Life in the military with a large family is very much like a circus. However, the family size or makeup doesn’t matter when schedules, responsibilities and life in general start to overwhelm you. I’ve learned that the hard way!
In fact, I think numbers have little to do with it and the bigger question is, uh hmm… How the conductor of the crazy train is driving down the tracks.
I would love to point my finger at my husband and loudly proclaim him the conductor. However it wouldn’t take a stranger long to figure out the truth: I’m driving the train; he is just the engineer and caboose that keep us from derailing. I’m a powerful force and it is full steam ahead. I’ve been known to jump the track on occasion.
I don’t recommend track jumping by the way—only when absolutely necessary.
I am the author of the insanity in my world. I pile work on and multitask on my calendar, in my home and in my mind. I find when there is white space available anywhere, I have this crazy need to fill it. Most of the time I thrive in this setting, but on occasion schedules and life overwhelm even me. That’s when someone, usually that caboose I mentioned earlier, has to yell an all stop and suggest I put myself in time out. People like me—you know the type—sometimes need to be told it’s ok to stop, take a moment and drop the ball. In fact some might say, “PLEASE slow down; we insist!”
If any of this sounds remotely familiar, the following tips may help you reclaim your sanity, recover from any fallout and reenergize your troops!
Clear some time to clear your head. Whatever helps you bring back proper perspective. What that looks like is different from one person and situation to the next. All you need might be a walk on the beach, a hike in the woods or mountains or a brisk walk around the block. Sometimes a matinee movie, beauty salon visit for hair and nails or a relaxing massage is just the break in momentum that you need. I call this my “SKRRRRT” event. My teenage daughter one day held up her hand to her brother and said “SKRRRRT,” stopping him in his tracks and redirecting his intentions. Sometimes we need that same sort of moment to help us redirect our intentions.
Take some time to evaluate what is actually going on. Many times I find I may have delegated inappropriately, taken ownership and accountability of things not in my area of responsibility and set ridiculous expectations. I am also probably out of balance somewhere—physically, spiritually or mentally. At one point, one of my high school children was having a rough patch. We were not getting along and I was not getting through to this child. I knew we needed a “SKRRRRT” event. I called the high school requesting that my child check out and meet me out front. When this 16-year-old came to the car, I rolled down the window and said ominously “Get in.”
My teen looked at me suspiciously and asked where we were going. I said, “Well my darling that is up to you. I’m concerned about you, so I’m giving you a choice. You can either go to yoga with me or we are heading to the hospital for a psych evaluation.” This wonderful teenager did not hesitate. Instead my child threw up the white flag and said, “Well let’s go do some yoga!”
After yoga and over lunch, we were really able to talk about tender topics. We both expressed our concerns and more importantly, it helped put life in perspective.
A plan, to-do list or road map to help get back on track is always worth the time it takes. Sometimes the plan is as simple as taking a moment to breathe and get a fresh look at where you are in life and what is going on. Other times may require action—determining what you can take off your plate and give away, put off until you have the resources or just ditch altogether.
Sometimes we lose sight of our goals. They get lost in the day-to-day business of living and running a family. Operations have mission creep; well, I call this goal creep. Without realizing it, we become less effective in obtaining our goals because we get lost in all the other “stuff” that comes along. If you find this is happening, don’t be afraid to call in reinforcements to help you refocus or redefine your goals. Bouncing ideas off of family and friends is a great place to start. There are also great resources available from Military OneSource like the booklet, Giving It Your Best, or other Blog Brigade blogs like Keeping Your New Year’s Resolution and other organizational and goal-setting resources.
Once you stop, take a breath and start again, don’t be surprised if you have to repeat the process. That’s okay and allowed! I give you permission RIGHT NOW to Stop. Breathe. Repeat! It will be time well spent; you’ll come back from your moment of retreat ready to take on the world!