Welcome back! We hope you read last week’s blog and have started working on your very own self-care plan. This week’s blog is inspired by a conversation I had with one of my close friends. We were talking about the difficulty of trying to juggle so many demands and how guilty we feel when we disappoint someone. Then my friend shared a saying that her sister often says to her: “Practice disappointing someone every day.”
Wait, what? Disappoint someone on purpose?
Now, I don’t know about you, but that sounds exactly like what we’re all trying to avoid. But, after we talked about it some more, this saying made perfect sense. It’s all about being intentional about what you agree to do and setting boundaries so that you do not take on more than you can realistically handle.
Since the beginning of the year, we’ve been talking about things like setting priorities, making small intentional changes, recognizing how amazing you already are, and taking time to care for yourself. Underlying all of these topics is the recognition that we cannot be all things to all people all the time. It’s just not possible to perfectly balance all our responsibilities in life. When we take on too much, we end up juggling too many balls and, inevitably, we drop some. Sometimes we drop them all.
So, how do you avoid dropping all those balls you’re juggling? You practice disappointing someone every day. Instead of trying to juggle too many tasks, plan which ball(s) you are going to drop. When you make decisions on the front end about what you will and will not be able to do in a given day, you are able to have conversations with the people who will be affected and help them make arrangements to have their needs met.
For instance, let’s say you have to get two kids to two different activities that start within 30 minutes of one another. Instead of racing around trying to take both kids to their activities, what if you go with one and arrange for your spouse/partner to take the other? Or maybe both kids carpool to their activities and you run some errands (or even stay home to take some time to yourself). When you plan for this in advance, you can talk to your kids about the plan. This reduces disappointment because your kids are not expecting you to take them to their activities that day. You feel less rushed and stressed and you don’t end up feeling guilty because you let your kids down. As a bonus, you can also let them know when you will be able to attend their activities in the future.
Really, this quote is not about letting people down or making them feel disappointed in you. It’s about prioritizing what’s most important and figuring out what you can handle at any given time. It’s about communicating with those who depend on you so that they know what to expect. Practicing disappointing someone every day actually leads to less disappointment in the long run because you are setting realistic expectations for yourself and for everyone around you.
The other key here is to make sure you’re not “disappointing” the same person all the time. Things that are priorities in our lives need time and attention in order to thrive. You’re not going to miss all your kids’ activities. You’re not going to skip spending time with your spouse or partner all the time. You’re not going to leave work early for every event at your kids’ school. You’re not going to put your own self-care last all the time. If you “disappoint” the same person all the time, that relationship suffers. By alternating who you “disappoint” on any given day, you will be able to be more present in the activities in which you choose to engage. You will have more energy to put toward your priorities. Most importantly, all the areas of your life that you have intentionally prioritized will receive enough of your time and attention to flourish.
Feel free to peruse our blog and see what Sarah and Lisa had to say about topics related to your needs as a busy parent. We will talk about everything from parenting values, to life hacks, to realistic self-care.