What is really stopping parents from looking after themselves?

I started this blog to keep myself motivated and accountable in spending more time looking after myself. Because since becoming a mum years ago, I’ve certainly not been giving self-care enough attention. But through my blog and the connections I’ve made, I found that I’m not the only one. Putting self-care at the bottom of our to-do lists is actually quite a common thing for many.

So I’ve been asking other parents a few questions, mainly to be able to understand where people are on the self-care scale.  One of these questions was: “Given the opportunity and the time, what would you like to do more of?”

The things we’d like to find more time for

But also…

Would you have thought that tidying up and decluttering were one of the first things that came to people’s minds if they had some time to spare? Is that your idea of relaxation and fun?

Probably not. And neither is mine.

But I wasn’t surprised to see these things popping up. Because having a messy house or ‘stuff’ lurking around and cluttering a to-do list that you never get to the bottom of, is stressful. It can be mentally draining. And removing that stress from your life and your mind is definitely a form of self-care.

That made me curious. There must be other things that people feel they have to do to but would like to get rid of to feel more able to relax more. So I asked: “What things do you hate doing and always find yourself procrastinating on?”

The things we hate doing and procrastinate on?

  • Filing, admin and paperwork. There seems to be so much of it! It piles up and calls for decision-making. What to keep and what to get rid of? Where to put it? And then you also have to shred or destroy.
  • Accounts, budgeting and anything financial. Paying bills and invoices, budgeting, keeping track of accounts etc.
  • Planning meals and doing the shopping. And for some this also extends to cooking!
  • Cleaning the house, and in particular showers, bathrooms and windows!
  • House work like hoovering, ironing (which a lot of us have struck off our lists for good), folding laundry, sorting it out and putting it away where it belongs.
  • Gardening
  • Comparing prices for suppliers and insurances – isn’t this the biggest pain of all? You sign up with a provider just to know that when the renewal proposal comes a year later, you HAVE TO switch, unless you want to waste a fortune. Whatever happened to wanting to retain your existing customers??
  • Decluttering and organising wardrobes – it’s interesting to see how this comes up amongst the things we’d like to have more time to do but also amongst the things we hate doing and procrastinate on.
  • Along the same lines is sorting out outgrown children’s clotheshave you thought about selling them?
  • Searching and booking for holidays – everyone wants and needs a good holiday of course. But having to look for it is a big chore, especially if you’re travelling as a family and have particular requirements.
  • Planning for the future. For example by setting up a pension fund or writing a will.
  • Booking and going to appointments. Dentist, optician, haidresser, or taking your pet to the vet also feature in this list!

And when it comes to the digital world:

So what does this tell us? 

That we procrastinate on tasks that we find mundane, boring and repetitive. But also on tasks that we feel are too big of a job. So we leave them and leave them. Until they become so big that they start to stress us out. We anticipate and dread how long they’ll take us to complete. And the stress keeps mounting. 

We procrastinate and our houses fill up with clutter and undone or unfinished tasks. And then our minds get cluttered as a result. They cause us stress.

And whilst part of dealing with that stress is to try and not let thoughts about these things bother us (here’s where mindfulness can help), the other part of it is to try and just make these things go away. And if they can’t go away (because they come back every day or every week, like cleaning or budgeting or planning for meals), then we have to find ways to make these things easier and less stressful for ourselves.

Because ‘mental clutter’, as I call it, is real. Just like a drawer full of messy paperwork is. And it keeps us from relaxing. All these things eat up our time and energy and stop us from looking after ourselves instead.

So how about, together, we look for ways to either make these things easier or go away, so we can free up some of our time and fully dedicate it to ourselves? How does this sound?

Is there anything you’d add to the lists above? What would you like to have more time to do? And what is it that you hate doing and procrastinate on?

But also, do you have any tips or solutions to make those dreaded things easier and quicker? Or even better, make them go away?  

 

2 Comments

  1. 17th April 2017 / 5:21 pm

    I read in Gretchen Rubin’s book ‘Better than Before’ that she scheduled a power hour each week to blitz through these mundane tasks. It worked for her but I haven’t found a way to implement it in my own life!

    • Sara
      19th April 2017 / 9:30 am

      If we include all those in the list, an hour a week doesn’t cut it, does it? But if I had done my admin and paperwork an hour a week for example I’d be in a much better place now!

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