Remember when you used to have time to read, catch up on your favorite shows and meet your friends for dinner? Yeah, neither do I.
I barely have enough time to schedule my kids' dentist appointments, return library books, referee disputes over sofa positioning, and go to the grocery store. I mean, how is it possible that I'm out of toothpaste, but we have three open tubes of kids' toothpaste in my sons' bathroom? I need four more hours in the day (or 12) just to get some sleep!
Here's the thing. I go to work in the middle of the night. I'm the morning anchor for the NBC station in Washington, DC. News4 Today goes on air every week day at 4:26 am. Not 4:30. 4:26. And believe me, those four minutes count. By the time I get home in the afternoon, I have a small window to do everything I need to do before I pick up the kids from school. Then we start homework, soccer practice, dinner and clean-up. When they go to bed, I need to go to bed. Ask me how many times that actually happens? Granted, the early morning schedule allows me to be home with my kids after school. For that I am grateful.
But my insane work schedule means I'm not home for the morning mayhem at my house. This is a fact that is not lost on my kindergartner, who when reminded that mommy is home with her every afternoon replies, "But you don't eat breakfast with me." (We'll talk about mommy guilt another time.) My husband manages mornings like the rock star daddy that he is. But come on, even Bono would have trouble wrangling three kids out of bed and off to school every day. To save time and minimize stress at our house, we try to plan ahead. Every night before bedtime, we make sure the kids have their homework in the right folder, inside their backpacks...clothes picked out...sports gear packed and ready to go...water bottles put in the fridge. (Water at room temperature? You'd think I was asking them to drink Windex.) We also talk about any plans for the next day, so they know what to expect.
This routine goes for me too. I pick out my outfit the night before, program my coffee maker, pack my breakfast and look at my calendar. These may seem like small, simple steps but they save me precious minutes as I'm getting ready for work in the dark. The day I forgot to pack my shoes the night before, I arrived at work the next morning with two different shoes--one open-toed and one closed.
The reality is no amount of expert planning or painstaking scheduling can prepare you for the curve balls life throws your way. Think snow days. Yes, I program my coffee maker and put out my thermos. But how about the morning I didn't close the lid tightly and all the coffee spilled into my bag on onto my dress. I don't think the viewers noticed. The bag has a stain and still smells like coffee though. Oh and the clothes we laid out the night before...well as you know, kids change their minds at the last minute.
Here's the other thing. No matter how stressful your day is today, you get a brand new day to look forward to tomorrow and you can make it better. When your busy day gets the best of you, channel Annie. The sun will come out. Sing it out if you have to. That will relieve some stress too, by the way. I tell my kids all the time, you don't have control over your circumstances, you don't have control over other people, you don't have control over time. You have control over yourself. Live with gratitude and compassion. If you focus on what's good (like new socks), the bad stuff won't seem so stressful.
In peace. E