Lowering the bar
A few weeks ago, I put up a post on Letting Go and the lessons learned from my three-year old. My seven year old, never one to shy away from the spotlight, was quick to point out Joshie doesn’t have all the answers. (I have to admit she has a point here, otherwise our family’s chocolate consumption would be even greater than it currently is. Seriously, I can’t maintain eye contact with the supermarket checkout staff when Lindt is on special and we purchase bags full of the good dark stuff.) In any case, in Livia’s eyes anyway, it is high time that she featured on this blog. As it happens, I had been thinking the same thing, although with a different angle than I think she had in mind.
Of all my three offspring, Livia is the most nurturing and relishes her role as the only ever-so-slightly bossy big sister of the brood. After two and a half years of school she is convinced she knows nearly everything and certainly more than anyone else in the family. (Indeed she finds it quite mystifying when Mummy and Daddy contribute an occasional pearl of wisdom.) As the eldest, she fluctuates between enjoying the additional responsibilities and rebelling against the extra workload. What I think I can learn from her though, relates to her attitude to getting things done. In a word, she completes all her allotted tasks quickly. She is the queen of maximising actioning items with minimal exertion and effort.
In our world of hectic schedules and never-ending to-do lists, Livia has cottoned on to something it took me a whole lot longer to realise: If a jobs worth doing, it's worth doing badly. With some exceptions, it doesn't matter how something gets done (dinner, spelling lists) so long as it earns a tick on the to-do list. For example with Livia, her idea of cleaning her room is to opening the wardrobe door and shoving everything in there. Under the bed is also another very valid option. (She is, in this respect, very much her daddy's girl.) For a long time this bothered me. A lot. It did, after all, amount to nothing more than redistributing the mess as distinct from tidying per se. However, I do have to admit that while her innate organisational skills/domestic goddess inclinations are sadly lacking, the job gets done.
Perfectionism, while not something I would advocate striving for even when in peak health, is definitely an unhelpful aspiration in the context of adapting to life with chronic disease. Setting an unrealistically high bar squanders not only time - it can also decimate precious energy reserves and create extra stress. Pinterest, I'm talking about you. (For those that actually enjoy these sort of Martha Stewart-style shenanigans this does not apply. Kudos to you and keep it up.) For the rest of us who do it because we think we should and not because we want to, I urge you to liberate yourselves and lower that bar!
Staring down the barrel of a 3 year old’s birthday party with 30 guests? Instead of spending half the night before preparing tasty and tantalising treats for the two-foot tyrants, how about letting Chez Coles cater for the crew and being well-rested. Win-win.
Instead of fretting over the unkempt state of the house, set your sights on a more worthy goal of spending more time doing a favourite hobby. You will feel oodles better and the housework can always wait a bit longer.
So my readers, I would love to hear about how you have modified the way you spend your time post-diagnosis? Have you embraced new philosophies regarding how you spend your precious time and energy?
Image in text: Cover from Good Housekeeping Magazine, August 2008