The Harried Woman’s Guide To Not Losing It

“How do you do it?”  That’s a question I often get asked, right up there with “what’s for dinner?”  Sometimes, especially when I’m feeling super stressed, I ask myself the same thing.

Raising kids while managing a career and keeping the romance burning is daunting for any woman.  Hopefully, over time, we all learn how to make it work, or at least, work on most days.  I’d like to share with you what I’ve painfully learned over the past 27 years of being wife-mom-nurse-entrepreneur-volunteer.

Don’t beat yourself up. You’re not perfect.  I’m not perfect.  Yet often, I am my own worst critic and push myself too hard.  This area is a struggle for me.  Sound familiar?  A good friend once gave me great advice, paraphrasing from St. Augustine:  do the best you can and leave the rest to God.  And learn to let it go.

Be organized. In our house, I keep track of the kids’ activities using a big bulletin board and a wall calendar/planner.  There’s a chores list to avoid arguing over who’s doing what job.  I have a menu for the week’s meals, a corresponding grocery list, and a roster of quick, usually healthy weeknight meals.

For work, I rely on my daytimer for each day’s appointments and to-do list.  There’s a big whiteboard calendar on the wall next to my desk that shows the entire month’s appointments at a glance.  I have user-friendly software for bookkeeping, and am diligent with filing and documenting.   I don’t let myself get behind in tasks such as sterilizing my instruments, restocking supplies or even laundering my scrubs.  I know that I’m very fortunate to be able to fit my work around my family’s needs.  That’s the beauty of being in business for myself.

On a related note, you won’t catch any diseases from my house, but you’ll know you haven’t stepped into a magazine spread.  Martha Stewart, I’m not.  And that’s OK.

Develop friendships with other women. Who else can you simultaneously overeat and talk non-stop with?  Who’s going to bring you meatballs when you’ve just had a baby; burgers when there’s a death in the family; make you crazy just because?

Cultivate romance. OK, so he doesn’t look like the 22-year old I saw across a crowded room, but then I’m not my 21-year old self either.  We’ve had our moments over the 31 years we’ve been together, 27 years of them as husband and wife.  Through all the diaper changes, sleepless nights, disagreements, misunderstandings and pettiness, we’ve managed to carve out some time for ourselves, if only for a walk or a date night in the dining room once the kids are asleep.  We don’t always have to go to a restaurant.  The important thing is we make the time to be present to each other with no distractions.

Say “no.”  About 2 years ago, I told my spiritual director how guilty I felt for turning down a volunteer position at my church.  Wise Friend peered at me through his glasses, folded his hands on his desk and said with slight exasperation, “may I remind you that you are very busy already and have more than enough to do.”  He went on to point out that my primary responsibilities are to my family first and to my business second.  It’s wrong to put the needs of my community or church before my family and business and he warned me  not to  stretch myself too thin.  Now, the only volunteer position I hold is the Catechism teacher for the First Communion class at my parish.  Recently my pastor asked if I would volunteer for the RCIA program.  My answer?  “No.”

Look after your physical needs.  A bad back is an occupational hazard in the nursing profession and I have been plagued with one since nursing school.  The fear of crippling back pain, coupled with vanity, motivates me to maintain normal weight, strength and flexibility through a healthy diet, regular exercise and yoga-style stretches.  As a nurse, one of my roles is health-teaching patients to live a healthy lifestyle; therefore, I need to practice what I preach. In trying to keep myself healthy, my family is healthier too.  We all benefit.  Find what motivates you and do whatever it takes to be healthy.

Look after your intellectual needs.  Studies show that keeping your brain active can safeguard against Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.  But that’s not the only reason for giving my brain a workout.  Reading, writing and taking courses when time allows makes me happy.  What keeps your brain synapses firing?

Look after your emotional needs.  This isn’t easy, I have to admit.  Sometimes I bottle things up and then explode.  Not a good idea.   I’m constantly working on this one, and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone.

Look after your spiritual needs.  Find a good spiritual director, if you can.  At the very least,  talk to someone with the proper theological background to clarify and correct any faith questions you may have.  That’s very important because spiritual growth influences all the other areas of your life.  Read the Bible as well as the writings of the saints and great theologians.  Go to church every week.   Pray constantly.

Have fun.  I enjoy getting together with friends.  I love being with my family.  I like my own company.  Laugh!

Be grateful.  Life is a blessing.  Everything is grace.

Most importantly……..Trust the past to the mercy of God, the present to His love, and the future to His providence.  (St. Augustine)

Deo Gratias

This entry was posted in big family, Catholic, Catholic woman, children, Christian mom, family, large family, parenting, wellness, working mom and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to The Harried Woman’s Guide To Not Losing It

  1. SR says:

    I love this! “How doooooooooooo you do it?” My hat is off to you as another woman, mother, and wife. I love all the great advice you gave, as it all can be used regardless if one has 8 kids or not living with them. There is much to learn here, for all of us who have a hustle and bustle life. I also love the quote from St. Augustine. Great one! God Bless, SR

  2. cherrytf says:

    One thing I’ve learned from my sister-in-law, whom like you has 8 kids, is to delegate: to her husband, her older kids, and sometimes to me and my husband when she really needs help. And we’re glad to pitch in whenever we can. And yes, an organised life certainly helps heaps. God bless!

    • Yup, delegating is necessary for peace of mind. That’s why we made the chores list, oh so many years ago and it’s in a state of evolution as older kids’ schedules change and younger kids being capable of doing more.

  3. dgcree says:

    Love it !

  4. reinkat says:

    So much wisdom here–for men and women alike. So many good reminders of what is important in life–and what gets lost in the hustle and bustle of daily routine.

  5. I read this on the morning I’m returning to work after the summer holiday…such good advice!

  6. Be grategul is really what it is about, isn’t it. Thanks for this post.

  7. lilyboat says:

    Great post! I am going to translate this and share with my sister!

  8. Mr. V. says:

    Great post.

    I sympathize with your back pain. I had some back injuries as a result of jobs and work I did many years ago. Now every once in a while I’ll be doing something like reaching up to a shelf, or reaching to scrub my back while in the shower, and out goes my back and it’ll be a week of pain.

  9. You are amazing. I don’t know if I could raise kids, run a successful home business, or be romantic, never mind all three at once.

  10. Great post. Real tips from a real household trying. Most awesome. The reading and romance thing i was going to give another example to to add something to your already great thought. The reading can be taken care of with an mp3 player and an audiobook. What else is there to do while driving or excercising. Sure i love music too but ive put aside that to use that time most effectively. Wife packed me a lunch yesterday and threw in a surprise note of love and blessings. So lets not forget the little things for our spouses. That one gesture alone had me wrapped in a smile all day after. Thanks. Great post

  11. Little things done with great love… added some great examples. Thank you.

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