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Are You a Parent Juggling Too Many Tasks? Try This.

By Lynn Jenkins - 4th April 2012

A few weeks ago I found myself a bit more disorganised than usual.  Among a multitude of jobs I had to do was buying green things for my eight and five year olds to wear to school for St Patrick’s Day celebrations.  I found myself standing in a shop asking myself what would be more inappropriate - sending them to school wearing plastic green glasses that look like jugs of beer, or a badge that says ‘Kiss me.  I’m Irish’?

These were my options because I was not being organised enough to get to the shops before all the good (and child appropriate) green things were sold to the other, obviously more organised, parents.

After deciding that both options were probably inappropriate, I started rushing around the shops ripping green clothes off sale racks.  All the while I was cursing myself for leaving it to the last minute again, and for not buying my kids more green clothes in the first place.  But no.  I’m a last minute gal and I obviously don’t favour green clothes.
While I was doing all this rushing and ripping, my baby needed feeding so I sat down to feed him.  While I was feeding, my builder ‘phoned to ask me whether I’d bought the lights for our new garage because the electrician was at my house to install them.  After telling him “Not yet”, my phone beeped out a reminder to buy a birthday present for my father-in-law.  I then decided to check my emails and discovered a few work requests sitting in the inbox.  

By this stage I was feeling like life was getting on top of me. I was feeling things like: ‘failure, not good enough and overwhelmed’. I felt like I was wearing gumboots and they were getting stuck in thick mud.  

But then I had a moment.  I sat still – immobile I think from the weight of all I had to do as well as from my own self deprecating thoughts and accompanying feelings.  I kind of hovered above myself and saw myself juggling my many metaphorical balls.   
This moment gave me a sense of clarity.  And I realised I was using my ‘observer self’ – a term that comes from a therapy called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy or ACT for short.  ‘Observing self’ is a perspective or viewpoint that  allows us to notice what we are doing, saying, thinking, etc.    

I found myself ‘observing’ all I had to do as opposed to being ‘in’ all the things I had to do – that ‘being stuck in mud’ feeling.  My change in perspective took me to a space where I didn’t feel controlled by my overwhelmed feelings. I could ‘see’ things, including my choices a lot more clearly. They weren’t so clear when I was immersed in them.
So, with my renewed clarity, I finished feeding my little man, picked up some green ribbon for my daughter’s hair and some green shoelaces for my son’s shoes and decided that was it.  

While I was having my moment with my ‘observer self’ I noticed that I was juggling way more than three things - the jugglers I’ve seen usually juggle only three things. I personally think that the juggling is what captures a little of the magic behind how mothers and fathers successfully function every day, but given we’ve only got two hands, the magic can turn to mud when there are too many balls in the air.

With this in mind, I made a decision to use my ‘observer self’ more often, then went home.  And what was waiting for me when I got home?

Two St Patrick’s Day hats!  Attached was a note from my mum: ‘Got them from Spotlight for the little Leprehauns'.  Hmmm - Leprechauns. Maybe they do exist …

image freedigitalphotos.net

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