Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Trying to Keep to Limits Requires Mindfulness

This is a follow-up to yesterday's post: Reasonable Limits.

I wanted to make it clear that I think this issue with setting reasonable limits is key to a few things.

1. First, to not over-commit to tasks or appointments, say no to doing things, space out medical appointments, and decline some volunteer positions that I'm asked to do. I am trying not to set myself up for failure.

Keeping priorities in mind is important. For example if tempted by the doctor's staff to book the appointment on a certain day which would mean we have two doctor's appointments in a day and also trying to get all the homeschooling done, if homeschooling is a priority then only book one appointment that day and complete both things successfully. Leave the second appointment for another day when again doing both homeschooling and the appointment is attainable.

2. Second, have a lower expectation of what can be done in one day so that the things planned do get done and success can be felt, goals can be achieved instead of always failing. That applies to things like what homeschooling lessons can be done in one day, what lessons can be done that day plus the outside appointments, what household tasks can be done that day in addition to the rest of the day's plans and so forth.

3. Limits as to how much new stuff gets brought into the home. Does the kid really need more LEGOs? How many pairs of pajama pants are adequate? Yes that t-shirt is cool but he already has 40 that fit now. Is that new lovely skein of yarn necessary since I already have three skeins of sock yarn waiting to be knitted up?

4. When in the home, on a daily basis when going around the house AND when doing decluttering projects, ask yourself about limits. The kitchen drawer is overflowing and is hard to get stuff out of; do we need that many specialty gadgets? The cabinet is crammed; do we need four different types of blenders? The pencil cup is overflowing with over 30 pens; do we ever need 30 pens at once? When cleaning a son's room, are 15 bouncy balls mostly from birthday party goodie bag gifts really necessary to keep and have rolling around the floor underfoot every day? I brought in today's newspaper and added it to the 'to be read' pile. There must be 45 papers there unread, will I just add to the pile or read some today or just grab some of them or grab the entire stack and put them in the recycle bin?

This asking yourself about your limits can be done throughout the day as an awareness thing and taking little steps here and there randomly is good. When doing something like getting a new bottle of shampoo from the closet if a mess is spotted why not take five or ten minutes to quickly tidy up and declutter it right then and there? Don't put off small things to be a big decluttering project done some day in the future.

Don't say, "This pants drawer is overflowing, some day I'll go through all my clothes." Why not take a few minutes and go through it right now instead? "Oh there is a pair of pants that is so uncomfortable I never wear them and those are too small and those seem to be worn only to funerals so why not hang them in the closet instead and use the drawer for pants I wear daily instead?"

5. When tackling a big decluttering job try to be as realistic and brutal as possible about limits. Set limits and make yourself stick to them. It would be great if we all had a friend or relative to help us declutter that can be a voice of reason for us but if that is not possible (or if your helpers actually wind up encouraging you to keep stuff), then you have to be your own voice of reason. Keep telling yourself over and over about the limits you decided upon.

6. If you feel you can't get rid of something try to figure out the root emotion behind it and tackle that.

One example I have about that is I find it hard to get rid of picture books my kids have outgrown. I have figured out that I had such a great time mothering my kids at those young ages that I'm putting too much emotion into the books themselves rather than knowing that I have an intact memory of many good times that will remain even after I let go of the material possessions.

The thing is I am saving some books that are not even their favorites. I somehow transferred the love of our favorite picture books into liking too many picture books. I don't have shelf space to keep all these books out and they are in boxes. They do no one any good in boxes. If they have to be stored in the basement or garage they risk being ruined by mice or heat or maybe dampness and mildew, so what is the point of keeping them? Wouldn't it be better to let them go now and be used by someone else in this good condition rather than keeping them and getting rid of them when they are ruined in the future?

I also have my children who are alive and growing up. Instead of over-focusing on the past or focusing on how I loved a certain stage of childhood I should be celebrating my children today, the stage and age they are now and enjoying them thoroughly right here and now. I believe this is part of practicing mindful parenting.

1 comment:

familyfun said...

This is an excellent article and one that isn't talked about enough with parents. I have been wanting to write an article similar. I will tweet it to get the word out. Keep up the great work!