This week I found this letter which I wrote to myself when my children were 4 and 5 years old (they are 15 months apart). Those were hard times, friend. And here’s my proof.
Dear Incredibly Nice, Selfless-Mother-of-2,
You are such a giver–volunteer of the year for sure! You are on the ball and we appreciate you. All of us do.
I am so thankful that you come and read to the class every Friday before lunch. Yes, that’s your day off and your chance to make yourself a nice, healthy lunch. But, that’s ok. Those kids need you! (don’t they?)
Thank you for putting together that spectacular event at the school last weekend. Everyone had a great time and we appreciate you spending your precious time on us. Maybe your family feels the pinch a little bit since you were too tired to read or play games for 3 weeks prior. Maybe you weren’t emotionally available to them. But, you really helped out the community!
It’s just amazing how you get it all done. Isn’t that a book “I don’t know how she does it!“?
Something has to give, right?
You can’t actually be doing it all.
So, what is it? I bet you haven’t even thought about it in awhile. Take three deep breaths and think, What are you avoiding deep down in your heart by running yourself ragged? What are you afraid to sit still and find out?
You haven’t done anything nice for yourself all week! How is that ok? Where did you learn to believe that you aren’t worthy of the love and attention you bestow on people around you? You give love and kindness to strangers even, but not to yourself.
When did the opinions of the other parents and teachers become more important to you than that of your own kids?
Your mom may have been an overachiever, too. Or, maybe she was a slacker and you are trying to make up for it.
Queen Volunteer, it’s time for you to sit down.
Lay down! Let your mind wander to the things you want to do. Read a book. Sleep more than 6 hours a night. Go to the beach and stare into the waves until the humming in your mind stops.
You are helping us out, yes. But, you are also making everyone around a you a little crazy with your hyper-activity and multi-tasking. When I talk to you for more than 15 seconds I need a nap.
I would never tell you this because I think it would cause serious mental trauma, but That stuff you run around doing all day... is optional Click To Tweet
While it is true that we appreciate your work for us, if you didn’t do it, no one would hate you. In fact, we might not even notice. And if I DID notice and actually confront you about it and you answered, “I just can’t keep up with all of the volunteerism I used to do. I have decided to take some time for myself to unwind.” I would probably hug your sweet neck and say, “THANK GOODNESS! I’ve been so worried about you!”
I wrote this letter to myself after I first read “The Not So Big Life” by Sarah Susanka which is THE BEST TIME MANAGEMENT BOOK EVER. (not a sponsored link)
Did you recognize yourself in my letter?
Are you avoiding quality time with yourself by volunteering, or by doing optional things for everyone around you all day long?
Are you afraid to say no to things people ask you to do?
What is more important than taking care of ourselves?
What is more important than hanging out with our kids each day? The dishes?! The book fair? Watching Mad Men? ummm….. no.
My parents, my partner, and especially my kids–they all need me to be sane and present.
Your people need you, too. What can you cut out of your day to make more room for self-care so you can be present for them and present with yourself?
I’m rooting for you to find something to say no to this week.
PS- I totally stopped volunteering in the classroom after I read the book, “The Not So Big Life”. And guess what? The school kept going! Without me. Amazing.
I also gradually stopped compulsively cleaning my house, because no one cares if it’s clean except me. I tried to stop watching Mad Men. But then I realized, that’s part of taking care of myself. yay!
Read more about self-care and saying no: