Jody Walton explains what this is and suggests ways to recover from it
I recently came across the concept of ‘time sickness’, which is described as
- Waking up in the morning and feeling anxious with all you have to get done that day
- Never feeling that you are on top of your to-do list
- Sacrificing your own needs in order to ‘get stuff done’
- Feeling that there are never enough hours in the day
- The belief that time is slipping away
- A general feeling of lack (of energy, time, money)
I would say all parents experience these feelings at some point, if not often. Time management is one of the major tasks that parent face day to day, as they organise family life as well as fulfil home and work duties. To add to that, our children these days have very busy lives too, with numerous parties and activities to attend – the social calendar is well and truly overflowing!
While we may love and appreciate all we have, our busy, modern lifestyle can leave parents struggling against the clock and suffering the pangs of guilt, believing they are spreading themselves too thinly and not spending enough quality time with their children, partners or friends.
As we tackle a vast number of tasks each day, forever battling with a to-do list, life can feel mediocre, as we are always doing, but never feeling like we’re getting it all done. All of this can lead to a host of health issues: physical problems, stress, anxiety, insomnia. I have experienced this myself, having developed digestive and hormonal issues following a stressful period after the birth of my third child.
And how many parents sacrifice their own hobbies, passions and self-care routines? We decide to put off doing what we love until the children grow up. We have conditioned ourselves to accept that this is just the way it is – ‘one day’ we will have time for what we love.
We need to change our approach. We need to start resourcing ourselves, taking things off our plate and nourishing ourselves in a way that leaves us full of energy to live our best life NOW.
Sometimes we will have to get the babysitter that we put off paying for, so that we can take up our much-loved hobby or connect with friends – yes, other adults! Sometimes we will have to say no to attending another child’s birthday party that week, or no to booking our child onto another activity, even if it’s something they really want to do.
Sometimes it’s OK to buy a good-quality ready meal instead of cooking dinner from scratch and spending hours in the kitchen.
Sometimes we must put the children to bed early despite their protests and spend time with our partner so that we can reconnect and remember why we are together, doing this thing called ‘family’.
Here are six helpful ways you can start to create more quality time:
Get clear on your ‘why?’
Tony Robbins, a world-renowned life and business coach, says: “Activity without purpose is the drain to your life.” It’s so important for you to attach meaning to your to-do list!
Tony stresses the importance of remembering “What’s my outcome?” and “Why do I want to do this?” rather than just “What do I have to do today?” It’s a better way of thinking that produces better results. For example, “I’m washing the floor today because I want to have a clean environment for my family and me to live in. I feel good when I walk in and see my house clean and smelling fresh.”
This is a great way to make mundane chores meaningful, by remembering they serve a purpose for you.
Ditch the phone
Leave your phone in another room while you complete tasks. The constant ping of notifications and messages stops you in your flow and breaks your focus. It’s very distracting and you easily get led down the rabbit hole of social media. Not only that, but it activates cortisol and adrenaline, putting your nervous system into fight-or-flight mode, thereby compromising your decision-making and mental clarity.
Research into wellbeing has found that people are at their happiest when they are completely absorbed in an activity. Whether you are completing your chores or spending time with your children and partner, try to be fully present in the moment.
Get outside once a day
It’s easy to spend your days inside the home or office, rushing from one task to the next. Try taking short breaks in between tasks; get outside for fresh air and to see the sky. It will reset your body and take you with greater focus to the next task. Taking 10 deep breaths of fresh air will also calm your nervous system and dispel built-up tension.
Get the right planner or diary for you
Get a good diary or planner to use as the central place to capture ALL of your activities. Having to keep thinking about chores in your head, or having different tasks written on bits of paper all over the place creates inner stress. If all your tasks are in one place, you feel the relief of knowing everything is recorded there for you and easily accessible. You can take the mental load off.
Next, categorise your tasks. For example:
- Home – get a new kitchen light bulb, pick up dry cleaning, do laundry
- Child – book the dentist, do homework, pay for football training
- Me – book yoga class, buy new shoes, book doctor’s appointment
As you chunk your chores, your mental stress will lessen. You no longer have one endless list of things to get done: you can compartmentalise.
One of the fastest, most effective ways to reduce stress and the feeling of time slipping away is to meditate every day, even if only for 5 minutes. It reduces the internal mind chatter that slows you down and makes you unproductive, and it reduces your heart rate so that you can feel calmer and less anxious. It will bring you back to the present moment and help you connect with your children and family better. Try the Heart Coherence Technique from the HeartMath Institute, which balances your brain waves and heart waves quickly and effectively.1
Remember that consistency is key, as the results are cumulative. So don’t over-commit – it’s better to do 3 minutes every day rather than a 30-minute session every couple of weeks.
Life happens, things go awry, and you may need to move things around and change your plans. Learning to go with the flow and being flexible with your day and tasks will give you a good advantage as well as benefit your mental health.
By introducing these six strategies into your life, you will begin to feel better about the time you have, you will feel more productive, and you will have greater opportunities to do the things you love and that nourish you – NOW, and not in the distant future.
Jody Walton is a mum to three rambunctious little boys. After working as a quality analyst for 12 years in a corporate environment, she decided to leave and set up her blog to help other busy parents focus on their own self-nourishment and wellbeing. She has a degree in psychology and has gone on to train in nutrition, Reiki and energy healing therapy. In her spare time, she loves to be outdoors with her children, or doing something creative. lovelifeandlittlefeet.com
Illustration by Jo Berry www.joberrydraws.com