How do you deal with things when your ‘dropping a ball’ causes another person to be annoyed?  …The problem is that I then tend to go into a bit of a tailspin of trying to do everything ‘properly’ which of course isn’t possible and doesn’t do anything to help me get my priorities right  (“No children, I can’t talk to you because I promised to do XYZ”).  How do you reconcile the reality that not being able to ‘do it all’ will often irritate other people?

I think I must annoy a lot of people because man alive, I’m “dropping the ball” all over the place.  

I love the analogy of life being like a big pickle jar.  I wrote about it back in this post too (that post may help a lot on this question BTW), but here you go:

If you try to fill up your jar with big rocks first, you can fit in smaller rocks and sand in without much problem. The smaller rocks just filters into the gaps.  But if you try to fit those big rocks in after the sand and gravel you’ll find they just won’t fit. The big rocks have to go first.

In life we can choose what those big rocks are. If we let them be the fluff then the important stuff will never fit. But if the big rocks we choose to always put first are our families and our faith, other things will fit in as we allow them.

Because I am a “pleaser,” I worry too about “dropping the ball” all the time.  I don’t want to put anyone out, and I certainly don’t want anyone to get their feelings hurt. But I have wizened up over the years and realized that I will NEVER be able to please everyone.   No matter what I do.  Now, I’m not going to pretent that this is easy.  I hate to have people mad at me or to think that I may have unknowingly done something to make someone feel bad.  But I feel so much more calm these days when I remind myself that some of those things I worry and wring my hands about aren’t the big rocks.  Sure, I want to do them.  I want to bring dinner to everyone and their dog who needs help and I want to take tennis lessons with a friend who asks and I want my house to be spic-and-span at every moment.  Those are worthy goals, right?  But sometimes those don’t fit into my “big rock” category and I have to let them slide.   And with that, I have to be ok with the consequences even if they cause others to be “annoyed.”  Because as much as I wish I could “do it all,” I can’t.  

I think sometimes as moms we don’t feel like we should be allowed to draw boundaries around ourselves and our families (at least I do…and I have to remind myself over and over again that it’s ok to slow down).  We take on the world and then we are burning the candle at both ends and things start to fall apart.  

I know this from first hand experience.  

So I’m trying to adopt Dave’s sister’s new family motto: “Chill.”  

I love that.

My son is 4.5 years old. From the day he was born I decided I was going to be that mom.. the cool mom, that’s not only his mom, but his friend too. I thought It was a brilliant scheme. I mean, what mom doesn’t want to be the whole package? A few weeks ago though, I think it started to backfire. In his eyes I tell that now he views us as equals and that he thinks doesn’t need to obey me unless I in return ‘obey’ him as well. He won’t do a chore unless I’m doing it too. At first I thought, ‘oh, he just loves to do things together’, but now Im realizing that’s not the case. He hardly listens to me or takes me seriously. I’m afraid I’ve dug a huge hole here and while trying to just be the ‘friend’ mom, have lost all control of him respecting and listening to me. WHAT DO I DO? WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
I always ponder what made my growing-up relationship with my parents so great.  And after much contemplation I’ve come to realize this:  

My parents were not “friends” with me growing up.  

Sure, I trusted them enough to tell them anything in the whole wide world I was worried about, and I felt safe as could be with them in every way.  But they were always the authority…a benevolent “higher up” and because of that I respected them with all my heart and wanted to make them proud.  It wasn’t that they were all high and mighty, actually quite the opposite. They were SO down to earth.  But we had set boundaries and we knew it.  We had “family laws” and we had consequences for our actions if we stepped out of line.  And my parents were serious about the consequences so we knew they meant business.  

I’m trying my best to duplicate that.  I want my kids to have enough respect for Dave and me that they want to stay in line.  I think that comes from being there for them when they want to talk (like a friend), looking out for their best interests (like a friend), but most importantly, being consistent and not letting them get away with even an inch of disrespect or out-of-line-ness (I think I just made up a new word.)  

I think in this particular case you have to set some serious boundaries.  “Family rules” are awesome.  Let that cute little boy of yours help you make them.  And let him help you come up with consequences too.  i.e. if you talk in a disrespectful tone you are calmly directed to the “extra job jar” to do an extra job.  

{more on that back in this post and what I put in the job jar here…it works wonders for reals} 

Or if you do not do your “jobs” your bedtime will be moved up fifteen minutes earlier, etc.  Whatever works for your own family.  

This is the important part though:  if you are not willing to follow through with whatever consequences you set together, don’t even try them.  Because the key is in the follow through.  Is it hard to make your child stay home from an event they are looking forward to?  SURE IT IS!  But if that’s the consequence you’ve come up with then you better follow through with it.  It’s so important not to put too much emotion in it as well (something I’m horrible at, but am a firm believer in).  As parents sometimes we just have to be “durable objects” that help guide our children, not ranting, raving lunatics trying to guilt-trip them into doing stuff (been there, done that…a lot…and I know it doesn’t work…at all).

Do I sound like I’m trying to be a parenting expert?  If I do please ignore me.  I have no qualifications to answer these questions except what I learned growing up form my extraordinary parents and trial and error with five kids.  

Is it just me or is your son the new spider man? Looks just like him! The whole time I kept wondering “why does that guy look so familiar?” It dawned on me that I’ve been looking at so many pictures of your India trip and that’s where the familiarity hit! 

A while ago Elle laughed right out loud while looking at someone else’s Instagram account.  This is what was so funny: 

People do bring up that resemblance a lot especially now that Max’s hair is longer.  Maybe we should buckle down and actually go see that movie:)

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  1. Shawni,

    I've been reading your blog for a while now and wanted to let you know how much I appreciate posts like this. I grew up with a very loving mother but she was a single parent from the time I was 9 and struggled to raise us right. I think she did great considering the circumstances and want to emulate some things she did, but there are things I know I would like to do differently, but I'm not always sure how. Your blog has given me so many great ideas to add to my parenting toolbox.

    I know you are really grateful for your wonderful parents and I think it's great that you are paying it forward by passing along great advice an encouragement on this blog for those of us who didn't have those same examples. I know it must be stressful sometimes in your busy life, but I'm really grateful you do it.

    And now this comment is epic. Over and out!

  2. I share Anna's feelings (although my mother was not a single mom). Thank you for taking the time to write posts like these. I have bought many of your parents books and they have been a blessing in my life in the past few years.

    Your family is inspiring in many ways.


  3. Shawni,

    I really enjoyed and needed to read this post today. Hoping to email you some thoughts/questions I had. Could you please send me your email address, I don't see it listed here? Thanks so much!!

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