The other day I texted these words to a mum-friend of mine: “Do what you can do, and nothing more.” The poor thing had been at the hospital the night before with her baby who has croup – and the next day she was frantically trying to reshuffle work and the nanny so she could look after him. She was fretting over her sick baby, but also stressing about how she was going catch up on everything.
“It’s times like these where you just have to do what you can, and nothing more”
There are times when we all need to scale things back and just focus on what really needs to be done. In this case, looking after her sick baby. While she’d pushed her work for another day, I knew she’d struggle to get it done within the hours she was getting paid for. But that week, she had to. That week, her employer didn’t get the usual ‘above and beyond’ from her. She just did what she had to do, and nothing more, so she could get back to her family.
But it made me think. Why don’t I heed this advice myself? Why does every mum I know feel like she needs to do it all, all the time?
Mums are the queens of multi-tasking
As mums, we learn very quickly how to do multiple things at once. We prepare dinner with a clingy baby on our hip like she’s an apron, no biggie. We stock the baby bag and make a phone call – while bub feeds off the boob. We put on a load of washing, in between peeling our toddler a banana and sending an email. We are so capable and just get used to doing it all and doing it all in the most time-efficient manner.
But how many balls are we juggling at any one time?
Sometimes we need to drop something
There are times when all the balls we have tossed in the air come crashing down, am I right? As my friend discovered, a trip to the emergency department with her sick baby was all the perspective she needed to make her drop everything in her life, bar her baby. She put off work – ball one. She cancelled catch-ups with friends – ball two. She didn’t call people back – ball three. She didn’t fold the washing, keep on top of the housework or pay any bills – ball four, five and six. I don’t know how many others she dropped that week, but I’m guessing the weekly shopping was also one.
Why it’s good to drop the ball sometimes
Dropping the ball is actually something we need to do from time to time. It means we have one less to juggle. One less on our to-do-list because, oops, it rolled off when we were looking at all the others we have flying in the air! But here’s the thing, sometimes we need to just focus on a few at a time, or even just the one. We need to just do what we can do, and nothing more.
The motherhood mantra I need to learn
As I write this I feel like a hypocrite. Right now the TV is babysitting my sick preschooler (it’s just a cold) because he had the day off kindy and I work from home. It’s been a juggle trying to do my job today with him also needing me and I don’t feel on top of anything. But I’m aware that I need to stop working soon. Any minute now my other son will come home from his day at kindy and race into my arms. He’ll demand my undivided attention and I’ll be wanting to give it to him. But I also know I need to start preparing dinner. Sigh, dinner. I haven’t even thought about what we’ll eat. You know what? I think I am just going to drop that ball. We can have takeaway tonight.
Some days you just got to do what you can do, and nothing more.
6 questions to ask yourself when you’re having a ball-dropping day
- How can I make this day easier?
- What are the things I absolutely MUST do and what can wait until tomorrow or next week?
- Who can I call for help?
- What things can I delegate to my partner, older kids or someone else?
- What can I do to recenter and re-group (such as go for a pram walk to clear your head or write a to-do list)?
- How can I take care of me right now?