Whether I'm thinking about carrying all the groceries from the van into my house in one trip, increasing the number of courses I teach, or tackling that final load of laundry for the evening, I generally have a "can do" attitude. Normally this is an admirable stance -- one infused with gumption and optimism, right along the lines of Rosie the Riveter's "We can do it!" and Bob the Builder's "Can we fix it? Yes we can!"
The problem, of course, is that sometimes I can't do it. I can't add more to my schedule. I can't take on more work. I can't pour out when I'm empty myself.
We all recognize the importance of life margin, so this week on the blog I'm exploring how I can practically reclaim some "white space" in my schedule and life. (Friends, I need it, and based on feedback I've received, it's becoming clear that some of you are in the same boat.)
So, without further ado, let me share the first strategy I'm implementing to improve my life margin: Seek and Accept Help.
Two weeks ago I placed a desperate call to a young woman in my church and asked if she could babysit for the afternoon. I was treading water with work, staying up late each night to grade, and convincing myself that what didn't get crossed off the to-do list today would surely get done tomorrow even though I knew the mushrooming tab of "tomorrow's work" was larger that I'd be able to pay.
This lifestyle has taken a toll. Physically, I'm burned out. Mentally and emotionally, I'm spent. Relationally, I'm not the best wife, mother, or friend that I could be.
But my pride balked at admitting defeat. Since the birth of my oldest daughter (now nine years old), my husband and I have worked opposite schedules and juggled childcare primarily by ourselves. We've managed for nearly a decade! On top of that, this is the last year before our youngest daughter enters school. Can't I just keep going? Can't I just suck it up for one more year?
I honestly considered those questions. The answer was NO.
I've finally accepted my limitations. I've acknowledged that I can't healthily finish my work unless I call in childcare reinforcements for at least several afternoon hours each week. I've also accepted that there's a trickle-down effect; I can't be the the type of mother I want to be (patient, thoughtful, fun, creative) if I'm continually frazzled and overworked.
Perhaps most importantly, I'm accepting that there's no shame in this. It's okay to seek and accept help.
Which leads me back to my babysitter, whose name just might be translated "lifeline." She's going to watch the girls on Wednesday afternoons so I can work, uninterrupted and without guilt. I gain time. My girls gain a few hours with an awesome young woman. (Incidentally, I used to babysit her when I was a college student, which boggles the mind.) My babysitter gains spending cash. Win-win-win.
It's a small step, but I feel more hopeful when I enter the week simply by knowing that I've scheduled hours when help is on the way.
What about you? Do you ever find it difficult to admit that you need help? What's one area where you could seek and accept help this week to improve your life margin?
Image compliments of Patrick (flickr.com)