Tuesday, February 14, 2012

WRITE AT HOME MOM: Spreading it on Thick

USAToday Bestselling author and mom to four, Mira Lyn Kelly is all about maximizing the time there’s never enough of.

Are you one of the millions suffering from STTS?

STTS or SPREAD TOO THIN SYNDROME is a recurring condition most prevalently found amongst working mothers of school age children and younger. Common symptoms include but are not limited to:

The constant worry (often justified) that you’ve let something critical slip. A perpetual look of frantic desperation in your eyes. Frequent fist to the sky outbursts demanding or bargaining for more hours in the day. The certainty that you are scattered to the point, where collecting yourself is beyond contemplation.

If so…welcome to the club. Any ideas on how to get out?

Lol, okay, okay. So we’ve all been there…spread so thin that the threadbare fabric of our attention is disintegrating before our very eyes--and the ever watchful eyes of our kids, husbands, editors, etc…

It’s a bad place to be. One that I’ve found myself in more often than I’d like lately, and has me seeking the advice of experts (the working moms who have gone before) in search of solutions that will allow me to give the priorities in my life the attention they deserve.
What I’m finding are a couple of common themes running through most of the advice. 1st, GET ORGANIZED so as to not waste the limited time available, and 2nd, ELIMINATE UNNECESSARY OBLIGATIONS so of the time available, more of it can be spent on the things that matter most (family and writing).

Organization. Blech. I admit, it’s never really been my thing. I’m a creative soul. One who doesn’t like being pinned down by rules and schedules. But as it turns out, more than not liking being regimented, I don’t like dropping the ball, letting myself or my family down, or wasting time and energy I don’t have on trying to remember…well, everything. So organization it is… or at least, it’s what I’m working for. Where to start?

A tip from one of my working mom friends: Start an online family calendar.

Why it works for me: An online calendar is accessible to everyone with a computer or smart phone, and eliminates the need for me to be the household executive assistant. Now, both my husband and I get alerts to our phones about scheduled activities that may have otherwise slipped my mind if, say, I was caught up in trying to resolve a sticky conflict point. Additionally, it eliminates double bookings (which require ME to make that awkward phone call to reschedule) and that annoying time suck phone call from my darling, (pulling me out of the emotional turning point love scene I was just getting going on) to check if he’s free for whatever.

So the calendar was a good start for me, and once I was able to see what my obligations were, it was time to evaluate their importance and make some tough choices…because no matter how I slice it, there just wasn’t enough Mira to go around.

When it came to making those choices, what it boiled down to for me was WANT vs NEED. I wanted to attend my local RWA chapter meetings…but with our four kids all involved with sports scheduled at varying times and places throughout Saturday mornings, I NEEDED to help my husband get them all where they needed to go. I WANTED to be involved with PHS as an editor…but I NEEDED to spend the time I had focused on completing my personal writing goals. There were a number of WANTS to fall by the wayside, and a few NEEDS I realized deserved prioritization they hadn’t previously gotten. In the end, I wasn’t stretched quite as thin…which meant there was a little more of Mom available for my family, and a little more Mira Lyn Kelly for getting GET LUCKY closer to its finish line. And those are two things I can feel really good about…as opposed to being two of six thousand things I’m sort of trying to keep track of and will try to get to if I can remember once I get through all this other stuff…

PS - Have any helpful tips to share? Drop them into the comments… Here are a couple more I picked up this month...

Dinner done quick: Glazed Pork Loins this 3 ingredient, 5 min prep, family friendly meal is courtesy of Mandy Roth. In Crock Pot, pour 1 bag baby carrots. Top with 4 boneless pork loins. Spread with 1 8oz jar of apricot preserves. Cook on low 8hrs or high 4hrs. YUM!

Housekeeping in a hurry: The 1 Touch RuleAnything you pick up, gets put WHERE IT GOES when you put it down. Avoid moving things aside to “be put away later”. The mess gets reduced instead of simply redistributed.

Please join me the second Tuesday of each month to share tips, advice, and experiences as we take a Write-At-Home-Mom’s journey toward a better balance.

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  1. Always sweep the floor first when you're tidying up your place in the morning. Even if you never seem to get more tidying up done than that, your place will look and feel clean. And you'll automatically tidy up as you go along..

  2. Ah, yes. There simply isn't enough of us to go around. I feel as if I've been running for the last fifteen years, trying to keep up with my life! LOL.

    I'm a die-hard online calendar fan. The whole family can access it, and it's always available in the "cloud." And those little email alerts are my LIFELINE. I once thought I was flying up to work on a Tuesday. On Sunday night at 6pm I received an email alert. I was flying out the very next day. Oops! Without that alert I would have missed my plane and my first day (maybe more) of work. And as the sole financial provider in my family (my husband is building our house, saving us tons of money but not bringing in a paycheck) that would have been akin to a catastrophe.

    My other advice? A crock pot and a sense of humor are essential :) Most importantly, let go of the GUILT (easier said than done)And as you are already doing, seek out other working mom's. A sense of community will help with the humor and the guilt. So thanks for this column, Mira!!

  3. Crockpots are a must! Always swore I'd cook 'from scratch'...*snort* that was pre-kiddo. Besides crock pot cooking is from scratch, it just does the heavy lifting!

  4. Maria, that's a great start to the day. I know I get buggy when I walk into the kitchen and can SEE the crumbs. Ack!

    Amiee, as always, you are so amazing! And I LOVE it that your husband is BUILDING YOUR HOUSE!! Yeah, the online calendar has kept us out of trouble too.

    Kristina, And the crock pot...I love it. Though I'm not a fan of recipes where I have to do skillet work up front, or along the way. If I'm pulling the slow cooker out...I want to dump all my ingredients in...and forget about it.

  5. One more tip re: Online Calendar...you have to actually enter the info for it to work! (From the woman who answered door for Orkin man in PJs today--I blame my cold medicine hangover for not remembering to enter that he was coming...cause it couldn't just be me, right, lol!?)