“It’s not the load that breaks you down; it’s the way you carry it.”
-Lou Holtz, American football player and coach
One of the most common issues stepmoms have is overcoming overload. I’ve found that stepmoms are overwhelmed with trying to balance their stepmom role with their work life and social commitments. It’s impossible to do everything (and to feel like you’re NOT dropping the ball in some areas), so that’s why it’s important for you to protect your energy for those areas where you really want to show up.
I’d like for you to take a moment to visualize how you spend your days and your energy. To get an accurate picture of this, take a paper plate and use a marker to divide out how you spend your day. Be honest with yourself as you are outlining your day.
What’s draining you?
Who or what is an energy drain?
Identify those activities or people who are draining your energy.
When you look at your plate, maybe you see that you’re spending too much time on Instagram or Pinterest. If it is your phone that is draining you, leave it in the car when you get home from work. Take a 1-2 hour break from looking at your phone and checking your notifications. Eat dinner and spend quality time with your family. Then get your phone after dinner.
Set boundaries and learn how to say “no.”
Maybe you feel a sense of obligation and you just can’t say “no.” One saying that really helps me when determining what I want to do is “Every time you say ‘yes,’ you say ‘no’ somewhere else.” I have to tell myself to pause, and be intentional about when I say “yes.” When I set boundaries, I have more energy for the people and things in which I want to invest.
And guess what? Warren Buffet has found that saying “no” actually contributes to a person’s success. Buffett says, “The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”
What fuels you?
Now, as you are looking at that plate, think about how you would like to spend your time and energy. What would you say “no” to? What would you spend more time doing?
Decide what makes you feel good and do more of that. This may sound simple, but it’s hard to do because you may feel guilty, like you are abandoning your family when you’re having brunch with your friends. However, the opposite is true. If you are doing things you love, that means you are taking care of yourself. If you’re operating from a full cup, you’ll have more energy. You’ll be better able to show up for your family.
Now, it’s time to create a visual reminder of how you want to spend your time. Take another paper plate, get your marker and divide it up according to how you would like to spend your day. Then hang it up so you can see it every day. The next time you’re feeling overwhelmed with activities, invitations, and errands, look at your plate to remind yourself of how you need to protect your energy.