My high school Geometry teacher was Miss Tummers. She LOVED math and her excitement for it was contagious. She was young, fun and my friends and I looked forward to her class every day. (Well except for Christie, math really wasn’t her thing, but I digress.)
Geometry of course is “the part of mathematics that studies the size, shapes, positions and dimensions of things.” What I remember was learning formulas for how to determine the area of a shape. If you knew how big something was, you could figure out how much would fit inside. We learned area for squares, rectangles, triangles and circles. If you had a few key measurements, you could figure out how big the space was and there was always only one answer.
Tummers’s class was only one year, but I have great memories of her class (and she is still my friend on FB). However much of what I learned was thrown out with my spiral notebook when I was 15. In my mind, that was geometry. It didn’t apply to “real” life, unless I was planting a garden and needed to know how much dirt I needed.
Years later, when I was a new mom, career woman and wife, I trying to figure out how to do it all. My life was measured in hours and minutes. There were schedules to keep and deadlines to meet. I believed the answers were held in time management skills, prioritization and multi-tasking abilities.
On top of that I felt like I was falling short in all my efforts. I wanted to give 110% to my child and my career. When I delivered less than 110%, I felt like I was letting everyone down.
I might have gotten an A in geometry in high school, but I was failing at the geometry of life. I had forgotten a fundamental principle of geometry, I believed there was more space than there actually was.
Think about it, to find the area of a circle there is a formula, a measurement and a specific answer on the amount of space.
There is only one answer.
For years when I tried to calculate the “space” in my life and while I knew the clock had a set area (24 hours), yet I continued to try to stretch beyond its limits in order to give 110%.
I talk to moms daily who are struggling with this idea of giving 110%. It has become a subliminal cultural expectation and it is a dangerous message for moms. Just last week I was working with a mom who she felt she was not doing enough because she knew she was capable of so much more. I explained to her that this perception of giving over 100% is irrational.
We must stop expecting so much from ourselves. We must ask for help. We must reset what we believe and perceive is acceptable effort. Our lives and sanity depend on it. That statement may seem extreme, but if we don’t take it seriously, we risk burnout and health problems and then we won’t be able to take care of anything the way we want to.
In order to help us shift our mindset, I created a fun worksheet (which you can download by clicking on this link). I call it the “Mom-dala”. You may be familiar with mandalas, which literally mean circle, recently made more popular in adult coloring books. The Mom-dala is meant to contain all the pieces of your life. At the bottom of the page, assign a color to an area of your life, for example blue is laundry. Then color a piece of the Mom-dala blue that represents how much time you spend doing laundry. Continue assigning colors to things like work, cooking, exercise, time with family, friends, sleep and kid’s activities and color them in on your Mom-dala. When you are done, which colors stand out? Which colors do you want to stand out more? What would have to shift to make these changes?
I hope you’ll give the Mom-dala a try, if nothing else, it’s just fun to color and we all need more creativity in our lives. But, if you take the time to look at the pieces that are making up your life, you’ll see that each of them contributes to your 100%. This is what it looks like today. It is colorful, complex, multilayered and most of all beautiful just the way it is.
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I started writing this blog because I wanted to have deeper conversations beyond "How are you?", "Busy", with other parents. Over the years I've shared personal stories, articles, authors and topics to facilitate conversations with parents about the joys and the challenges of parenting.