Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Wider Margins

Transition time.

Those are often words that strike fear into the heart of any mom occasionally. Tranistions are prime and ripe for a battle of wills or temper tantrum.

We become experts at trying to get ahead of the curve. We give time warnings: "you have 5 minutes left to play before we have to leave." We make it a game: "it's time to clean up. The first one done gets a prize." We remind: "you only have 10 minutes so don't start a new game."

At one point when the Vikings were smaller and I was weary from being the focus of "transitional wrath," I finally got some success with carrying a timer everywhere we went. LOL "When the timer goes off, it's time to go" so it became the timer that was the taskmaster and not me.

But, big shocker, adults often have trouble with transitions too. Particularly those of us blessed with some non-linear, out-of-the-box thinking with ADD/ADHD.

Someone recommended to me "If I'm Diapering a Watermelon, Then Where'd I Leave the Baby?: Help for the Highly Distractible Mom" by Carol Barnier. it's a quick read of about 100 pages but it's full of ideas for helping distractible moms cope and excel with their particular gifts.

One chapter is on margins. Barnier's definition of margin is the space that exists between our resources (including time) and our commitments of those resources. And, she argues that we moms tend to live "every hour of every day so packed from start to finish that there is no margin for error or change or spontaneity."

I know I'm not the only one who struggles with this. And, this is where I see my problems with impatience the most.

Transition times are killer for me and, as a result, a big source of stress. I have a plan most days. And, even if I plan for some delay, inevitably there's something unexpected. For an ADD-er trying to keep a grip on life with a set-out plan to cover all the bases and make sure nothing is forgotten, a deviance from said plan tends to throw me into a tizzy. And, tizzy = impatience to get BACK ON TRACK!

So, at Barnier's behest, I'm trying to have fewer things in my day and greater margins. She has four main suggestions:

1. Shoot for early. If you know it takes 10 minutes to get out the door, set a timer for 20 because something WILL happen...a diaper will leak, something will be spilled, someone will forget something. And, if all DOES go well and you arrive way ahead of the others, you have found the added benefit of being able to be of service to someone else setting things up! But, even if your time is not needed in that way, you may find time for something unthinkable...time to chat, talk, tell jokes, or just visit!

2. Home sweet home. Barnier suggests we need to start worrying less about what our kids might be missing. We, as a parenting culture, are overextending them and their schedules to a ridiculous, un-keepable pace. I know it's shocking, especially with the community we just moved from, but my kids have never played soccer! Or any organized team sport. *gasp*

The question becomes where do you want to live? Do you live at home? Or is home just a refueling zone between activities? We have deeply found this to be true with this recent move. While I loved the activities and groups we were involved with in Michigan, can I be transparent and say, with all due respect, there was a wonderful lack of pressure and slower pace moving to Illinois. Not just because we moved to a rural community of 3100 people in about a 2 square mile town but because we had no commitments, no where to be, no watching the clock, no playdates, no coordinating schedules. My phone barely rings now - and when it does, it's either my husband or one of the grandparents checking in on us.

And, I've stumbled onto a trick of sorts. It works really well with my ADD. The big trick? I blame my hubby. LOL As someone who tended to get over committed on a regular basis, I needed a polite way to basically say "no" or "I don't know" or "can I check my schedule" without it seeming like an unintentional brush off. I blame it on DaHubby. And, he blames it on me. So, now when someone asks me to do something, I generally say "I need to check with (DaHubby) and I'll get back to you." And, I make sure I DO get back with them. I can barely keep track of what I'm doing this afternoon much less a week or month in the future. This way I have time to check my calendar and double-check with DaHubby that there's not something else going on that I've forgotten about or conflicts logistically with the request.

Barnier says "jealously guard your time with your family. And don't feel the need to apologize for it...Never apologize for putting your investments where they can make an eternal difference - in your family."

3. Learn to Love Boredom. I know this goes against most parenting advice out there these days but...our kids do NOT need us to keep them entertained every moment of every day. Constant stimulation is NOT a good thing. Everyone needs down time, time to reflect, digest, and contemplate. Barnier suggests declaring a Boredom Day - no computer, no tech, no TV, no friends over. They may whine initially but, she argues, sooner or later they will allow themselves to be motivated by the boredom and come up with some amazing and creative things. Learn to love boredom. Even seek it out.

4, Schedule laughter. Don't forget to stop and laugh occasionally. It's Biblical (the Proverbs 31 woman LAUGHS). And, it's medical (a Loma Linda Univeristy study demonstrated that the act of luaghing increased disease-fighting white blood cells by 25 percent). Set time aside to watch funny shows, play games, whatever tickles your funny bone.

All of these things are designed to give you some elbow room emotionally and spiritually speaking so you have great margins and more peace in your home.


Kari said...

Oh! I'd forgotten some of these! think I'm going to pull at my copy and flip through it during swim lessons this afternoon! Thanks for the reminder!

sara said...


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