But there’s just so much to do all the time

16513694_sSo many of you got so much out of yesterday’s blog where I felt annoyed/angry frustrated with my kids and how I investigated further, that I thought this next one might be helpful too. Again it comes from my personal experience of frustration this evening, getting overwhelmed by all the housework I need to do, combined with the non-household related work I needed to do and my ultimate desire to just sit down and do something for me.

My husband is working away at the moment and I am it, so after 4 months of this, it’s taking it’s toll, so I have plenty of opportunity to practice what I preach, that’s for sure.

I actually found this one quite tough to get to the core belief, but I finally got there and I think many of you will relate to it well, especially you achievers.

Here’s another rendition of how the conversation went in my mind (and I am writing it as I’m thinking it). Remember, the whinger me is in italics and the wiser me (the coach) is in bold.

I’m back again and I’m annoyed again.

Why?

There’s always so much to do all the time. Look at this place. It’s feral. There’s shit everywhere. It’s disgusting. There’s shoes and food. The dishes are pile up. I’m tired. I’ve had enough of doing everything in this house. I just want to sit down but I can’t. There’s still so much to do. I shouldn’t even be writing this blog. I should be sending photos to the in-laws like I promised them two weeks ago and Steve (hubby) has been onto me. I’ve just had enough. Why do I have to do everything? No one cares about what I want. No one cares that I might need to sit down and relax, nooooo. I have to be responsible for doing everything. It never ends……

Are you finished?

No, I could go on like this forever!!

Is it helping?

What do you mean? Helping what?

Is it helping you to get everything done?

No.

So why are you doing it?

Doing what exactly?

Rolling around in what’s not happening?

Because I just wish that I didn’t have to do it?

But reality is that you do.  So What is it about your to-do list that you don’t like?

There’ just so much on it. I can’t do it all and my wants seem to go by the wayside.

Really?

Yes.

Hmm, I beg to differ.

What do you mean?

Well, time is not about time, it’s about priorities.  You are making everything else a priority.

But if I don’t do it, it never gets done.

So?

So we live like pigs and it just piles up all the time.

Doesn’t the housework just come back?

Yes all the time.

So if you constantly keep making the housework a priority instead of making yourself one and the housework just keeps coming back, you never make yourself a priority do you?

Well, no I guess not. Okay so I have to include myself in as priority too.

Yes, you do. So there’s one aspect solved. But I want to go back to the frustration you started with though. How helpful was it to keep going on and on in your mind about how bad things were? How was it making you feel?

More and more frustrated. There came a point where I started to getting quite emotional and I could feel it in my chest, my breathing was getting shallower and heavier.

Do you think that was because you had lots of work to do?

Yes.

Really? So if it was the list of work you had to do causing these feelings, wouldn’t that mean that everyone with a long list of things to do would feel exactly as you do?  Is that accurate?

I know, I know.  It’s my thinking that causes me to feel this way.

That’s right, so what were you thinking?

I shouldn’t have to do all this. Why am I the only one doing it? I don’t want to do it. Why can’t the kids respect theirs/my stuff and keep things tidy? 

Remember all stress is a conflict between belief and reality. Is your thinking in alignment with reality?

No, I guess not. The reality is the jobs are there to do and I, being the mum and the sole house runner at the moment, have to tend to these jobs.  The reality is that the kids are still learning respect for things and it is predictable that they will not make it a priority to clean up their things and respect them. This is something they are learning.

And what does that mean about you and your life?

Okay, here we go again – an interruption to my life.

Is it though?

No, there is no interruptions to MY LIFE. There’s just experiences that come and go – highs and lows, wanted and unwanted, enjoyable and unenjoyable.  I’m just doing what I need to do as a mum to look after my family and my home.

While that is a good upgrade, it’s just not enough to change things for you is it? Tell my, why is it always your priority to choose housework over spending some time for yourself?  What’s that about?

No, you’re right. It isn’t enough.  Hmm, that’s a tough one.  Because I want the house to be neat and tidy. Because it  piles up and I would have to do it anyway. Because I want to get it out of the way so I can have me time.  Geez this is a vicious cycle isn’t it…because it keeps coming back, so I never actually get to that elusive goal of finishing it. Of course, sometimes I do, but I just turn around and it’s all back again tomorrow.

So what do you think it means about you to have the house a little messy?

I don’t know. I just need to keep the house hygienic at least. If there’s crap all over the floor and dishes to be done, I can’t just leave it.

Why not?

Because that would be disgusting and irresponsible. I cannot live this way.

{at this point, I’ve literally got back up and continued cleaning up the kitchen which I had stopped doing to write this blog because I just couldn’t handle leaving it the way it is. Only when the kitchen was done could I allow myself to continue this blog. The reason will become obvious as you continue.}

Then that is the priority. Why? What do you get from it when it’s done?

Satisfaction that it’s done. I feel organised. I feel better. I feel like I now I deserve to sit down.

So before you didn’t deserve that? 

I guess so. Hmm, okay, it’s coming to me now. I think it’s all about finishing things. I need to achieve it and finish it in order to feel good about myself. I feel I need to be rewarded for achieving it (like allowing myself to sit down and do ‘me’ things, only I don’t feel like other areas of my life are finished either and feel like I have to tend to that too, so the frustration continues).  That actually makes a lot of sense.

I am the achiever and I have attached my self-worth to finishing the job, getting it done and feeling the satisfaction of a completed job. Only nothing ever feels finished because the list keeps getting longer. Housework just keeps coming back, so I get frustrated that I never complete it and hence never feel that self-satisfaction that I have obviously attached to achieving.

That’s also why I make my ‘list’ a priority over my time out. I have held the belief that I need to finish what I’ve started (ie the housework) before I deserve to finish it

And is that reality?

No, not at all. The reality is that the housework will continue. The dishes will get used again and need washing up. The washing will pile up, need to be folded/ironed/put away and then it will come back again. The floors will get washed, dirtied and washed again and as per usual, EVERYTHING will rise and pass away.

I am reaching for an impossible goal and have incorrectly attached my self-worth to it.

But in reality there is nothing I need to do or achieve to increase what I deserve. It’s okay to take some time out for me without feeling guilty. It all comes down to my priorities.  Maybe I need to set smaller goals for myself and look at what I want my priorities to be instead of what I feel I need them to be in order for me to feel validated.

Like for example, sure, do the dishes and sweep the floors, but I don’t have to have the entire house tidy, fold all the washing, do my Parental Stress Centre work, send photos, have me time and vacuum the floors all in one night. It’s okay to spread it out, and as it is, the weekend is coming up and I’ll have plenty of time to do it then AND have some time out too. So what’s the point of stressing?

That’s right. All this rolling around in your story about how wrong it is, how it should be different, what you’re missing out on etc. is only going to cause you to feel badly, but this feeling is an indicator of what you are really thinking and underneath those feelings was you believing that you need to always have the house clean in order and finish your list to be valuable, but that in itself is in conflict with reality because your list is never really finished, because housework alone is never finished.  It will always just keep coming back.

So take some time to relax. Life is okay with a bit of mess. You just need to pull back, set smaller goals, be realistic about your expectations, but above all, keep mindful about why you are making what you are a priority and keep checking whether this priority has that underlying thread of needing to finish and achieve again in order to prove your worth (or deservability of fun times).

The reality is that life is a journey that we are here to experience everything, not just achieve our goals. Goals set life in motion, they don’t define us as good or bad, valuable or not. They help us to do life, to learn and grow and continue on to have other experiences. Goals are really not about the actual end achievement at all.

Furthermore, throughout your journey, whether you get the goal, don’t get the goal or anywhere in between that you are always valuable and so is you life. There is no destination that you need to get to in order to prove your worth. Just by being alive, you are worthy because you contribute to the world around you and help others to experience and learn.

Human value doesn’t lie in whether your house is clean or not or whether you have nothing on your ‘to do’ list.

If you would like to learn more about how to think differently about the demands you have upon you and would like to learn how to add more ME time into your life, check out A Parent’s Guide to Balance and getting more YOU time and our Give Me Back My Time Program
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