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You’ve Got 24 Hours, What Are You Gonna Do With Them? by Colleen Lindstrom

I have to tell you something, if there’s one thing I can’t stand hearing from people, it’s the words, “I’m so busy.” Not because I don’t believe that they are busy, and not because I don’t care, but because EVERYONE is busy.  It’s our cultural standard. You’ve got 24 hours in a day, fill ’em up!  I will tell you this, though, I didn’t truly understand “busy” until I had children.  When it was just me, I filled my “busy” up with the stuff I wanted to do, and the nagging stuff that had to get done FOR ME. As a mom, I’m still busy with all that stuff, plus everyone else’s busy.  If I allow myself to get caught up in the minutiae of that brand of busy, every day can feel  like groundhogs day.  The little Lindstrom ant farm will go marching once again when the sun rises.  That isn’t how I want us to live our lives over here in Lindstrom-ville, and if I may be so bold as to speak for you, I am certain you don’t want to live that way either.  Which begs the question, how do you create balance?

Balance. I am still not convinced that this concept isn’t a complete myth.  There are days when I am sure as the hamster wheel of life is spinning around me, that this “balance” concept is purely for acrobats and gymnasts. I’ll give it a good old college try, though.  Please understand that I am no expert, just a mom trying to make my way, but here’s how I try to handle this challenge in the day to day.  There will always be three categories of things in life, the things you want to do, the things you HAVE to do, and the things you really should do.  This will never change.  The “have to” list isn’t all bad.  Much of it can be good, like spending time with your kids, picking them up from events, reading to them, having dinner with them.  That list also contains things like go to work, pay the bills, do the grocery shopping, and other things that aren’t always met with such great joy.  The “should do” list is the stuff that often gets put off for later “when there’s more time.” It’s necessary, but not time sensitive.  Then there’s the “want to do” list.  That one is the first one to go out the window when the have to and the should do list take over.  Lest you take a moment to enjoy yourself or practice self care.

For me, I am the most pleased in life (and frankly, easier to deal with) when I get a little taste from every course of the buffet.  So, sampling from each list creates some balance for me.  I feel confident when I’ve taken care of the have-tos, productive when I tick off some of the should dos, and calm when I maintain mySELF with some of the would like tos. Sometimes, yes, I have to fool myself into making a “should do” into a “would like to do” (I do this most frequently with the Target trip. Who says that I can’t take a little detour into the home section when we really need diapers and milk?). Sometimes, I just plain have to realize that the world will not come crashing down around me if I put off one of the nasty “have to dos” in favor of a “would like to do.”  Balance may not be totally possible, but burn out is.  We don’t do service to anyone if we push ourselves to burn out.

Start your day with the list, and then pick from the buffet.  Try to get at least one from each list in your day.  Sometimes my “would like to do” item is as simple as “drink a cup of coffee in silence.” The “drink” part may turn into “chug,” and the “silence” part may actually mean “wearing headphones to drown out any extraneous kid noise while the hubby manages tantrums,” but the key is in relishing the moment, how ever short lived it is.

Now, please excuse me, it’s time for me to chug a cup of coffee while wearing headphones to drown out any extraneous kid noise while the hubby manages tantrums.

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