I used to be organized.
That is until technology came along, invented things to make me more organized, and in turn caused me to be more scattered than ever.
In fact, a good example of that happened today.
As usual, my boys and I were rushing out of the house to arrive on time at school — me still fixing my hair and stuffing food in my face; them scavenging for snow pants, mittens and other essentials I assumed they already packed in their bags.
When I pulled up to what is typically a long drop-off line, I glance to my left and notice a desolate parking lot : Not one single car. A voice shouts from the back seat: “Mom, I told you we didn’t have school today.”
Ugh. It’s true. He did say this a few days earlier, but this kid is a known prankster and I honestly thought he was kidding.
Why would there be no school on a random Friday in January?
Lesson one: Listen to your kids. They know more than you think.
I’m sure the school did its part to communicate. Surely, there was an email or announcement on a calendar somewhere, right? But how would I know where to look, among my four e-mail inboxes, three social media platforms, two messaging apps and one digital calendar, which by the way, also displays about a dozen of my coworkers' calendars so I can “efficiently'' schedule meetings each day.
Does that stress you out to think about? Me too. Have I brought this stress on myself? Yep.
Lesson two: Sometimes less is more.
Another real possibility is the school sent a written notice home with the kids. After all, not all parents have access to technology. Granted, I never saw such a thing in my kids’ school binders, but I can acknowledge my disorganized, creative-minded, little boys don’t always get items from point A to point B.
I don’t entirely blame them.
What they feel and what I feel most days is probably the same thing: information overload.
There are so many more ways today to streamline our communication, calendars and lives. But the more of these I add to my life, the less engaged I am..
Major workplace surveys support the notion of information overload. When this happens, it is hard to know what’s important and what’s not. It also has a real impact on the quality and speed of our decision-making and productivity.
I am so in awe of parents who have it all together, in real life... or even just on Facebook. They are the ones with the color-coded calendars and checklists. The ones who religiously and effortlessly perform their Elf on a Shelf duties and whose kids always get where they are going, clean, appropriately clothed and on time.
That’s just not me, and I do feel a little #momguilt.
The overachieving 25-year old version of me would have been this kind of parent. The 40-something version of me has loosened my grasp. I’m still ambitious, but by now I realize I do not have unlimited time, energy or focus.
For one thing, I have a very different job today than I did at 25. I shoulder more responsibility than I did when I was just starting out. I imagine this leaves less room for other stuff.
But also, it’s 2020 and we are an always-on society, always on the go, wearing “busyness” as a badge of honor, and never more than a click away from anyone or any task. It’s both a blessing and a curse.
That said, I can’t get too hung up on what could be, would be, or should be.
Lesson three: Release all expectations - of yourself and of your kids - if you plan to survive parenthood.
As you probably assumed, the day off from school ended up fine.
My husband decided he could work remotely for the day and hang with the kids while I went to work as normal. The kids were thrilled to have a day off and the break from their own daily information overload probably did their brains some good.
As for me, I realize I have more work to do to simplify my life. This was, in fact, one of my new year’s resolutions.
Lesson four: Ask for help when you need it.
Please share any tips, advice, or even books or resources you’ve found helpful in the pursuit of simplicity and personal sanity. Send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. While you’re at it, please also feel free to share your very own #momfail with me. I would love to include some of your feedback and stories in a future edition of “On the Minds of Moms”.