Note to readers: This post is part of the Word Carnival series of monthly blog posts. To read more posts on this month’s topic, “Parentpreneurs: What Being a Parent Teaches You About Business,” written by our Carnies, whip-smart entrepreneurs all, check out the fairway (aka “The Word Carnivals site”)!
Sometimes, being a Couch Warrior parent feels that easy. Mostly not, though.
I mean, it’s not enough I manage fifty-eleven bajillion brands on social media AND write blog posts AND put up websites AND coach clients AND try to find time to write my own fiction?
I have to run a house, too?
AND PARENT MY KID?!
Priorities. I Has ‘Em.
Breathe. In with the good air. Out with the bad. (I’m talking to myself here. I just worked myself up into a nearly full blown panic attack in less than 150 words, y’all. THAT’S HOW GOOD I AM WITH THE WORDS-PUTTING-INTO-SENTENCES-DOING THING.)
Here’s what I’ve learned from nigh onto eight years at the center of this three ring circus…
Do (Delete, Defer, Delegate) Or Do Not. There Is No Try.
You only have one choice to make whenever a thing comes across your task-consciousness. Seriously, that’s it. One choice, from among four very simple and mutually exclusive options:
- Do it (i.e., do it now and do it yourself)
- Delete it (i.e., don’t do it)
- Defer it (i.e., do it, but do it later)
- Delegate it (i.e., let some other sucker do it)
Parental Couch Warriors (PCWs) must get ruthlessly quick with this part.
The only — and I do mean only — things that go in box #1 are the things that absolutely must get done, and must get done NOW, and must get done BY ME. Here’s a hint: this is approximately 0.00023% of All The Things.
Everything else gets apportioned among the remaining three boxes. And here’s hint #2: approximately 99.99987% of the crap that doesn’t go into box #1 goes into box #2.
Simply put: we tend to overstate our own importance, and we also tend to overstate the necessity of All The Things. I’m here to tell you that the world will not, in point of fact, end should the dishes be done tomorrow morning instead of tonight.
Also? Your ten-year-old precious snowflake is entirely capable of doing those dishes, at least well enough to keep Child Protective Services relatively happy and out of your shit.
Which leaves all the rest of The Things, which come down to basically asking yourself three very simple questions:
- Would This Thing be useful, helpful, or brilliantly fun, at some point now or in the future? Yes? Move on to question #2. No? Dump it in the circular file, my friend.
- OK, This Thing being particularly useful, helpful, or brilliantly fun at some point now or in the future, am I the only person on the face of the ENTIRE PLANET who can POSSIBLY do this awesome thing? Yes? Move on to question #3. (Hint: the answer is almost NEVER “yes.”) No? Delegate that sucker, baby.
- NOW, This useful, helpful, and/or brilliantly fun thing being reserved SOLELY UNTO ME of ALLLLL the people on the planet, do I have to do it right now or in the next few days? Yes? Then do it. (Or put it on The List.) No? DEFER, DEFER, DEFER. (More on this in a later post.)
This? This simple-ish 3-question process? Resolves the vast majority of all PCW productivity issues.
Random Lessons On Productive Parenting Learned The Mo-Fo Hard Way
Take ’em for whatever they may be worth to you – but ignore ’em at your own peril:
- Your biggest enemy is out-of-whack expectations. Usually these are your expectations of yourself.
- Sometimes, they are also your expectations of your kids. They are not mini-adults.
- They are also not helpless infants. (Y’know, unless they actually are helpless infants, in which case just hang in there and try not to kill them – it does get easier.) They are perfectly capable of both (A) cleaning up after themselves and others, to an extent; and (B) entertaining themselves. Now, don’t get me wrong, here. THEY WILL LIE TO YOU ABOUT BOTH OF THESE THINGS. Just remember, they are kids (aka “lying liars who lie”) and must be Managed. With care, to be sure, but MANAGED.
- I PROMISE you: Nobody gives a shit if your floors are six days past the point they needed vacuuming, except you. Well, and your hyper-critical mother in law, but what’s she doing in your workspace ANYWAY, HUH?
- Communication is the key here. Well, communication and enforcement. Talk to your little darlings. Something like this, maybe: “OK, sweetums, Mommy’s got to work now. I’m going to work for 30 minutes in my office, and I’m setting an egg timer for 30 minutes. When that time is up, we’ll play our 29th game of Candyland today. Come inside my office before the timer goes off, without something being on fire or bleeding profusely, and I WILL SELL YOU TO THE METH GANG ON THE OTHER SIDE OF TOWN.” But – y’know, put it into your own words.
- Usually, I recommend estimating the time each task will take and adding on a 25% time buffer, to accommodate all those wacky little things that happen from time to time to suck up your attention and energy. When the thing doing the sucking sprang mewling and puking from your loins, however, that buffer should probably increase to about 150%. Act and plan accordingly.
There’s so much more that could be said, to be honest. I could write a whole book.
If I weren’t a parent.