How to Deal with Life’s Disruptions

Last week, I tried to be supermom. I know I’ve said that a MomME’s goal is not to be supermom (defined as the mom who thinks she can do it all and have it all), but ironically, that was what I did and ended up feeling totally defeated and drained.

What happened was, my son had a cold and the doctor advised that he should stay home to rest. So I took his advice and kept my boy away from school for a few days.

When you have a little one who’s sick and resting at home, it’s understandable that you are likely not to get much work done, right? Yet I stubbornly refused to slow down. I put on the supermom hat and thought I could still find a way to accomplish all that were on my to-do list while caring for my boy.

Needless to say, my attempts to work were inevitably disrupted by my 3-year-old who wanted me to play with him. I felt frustrated, then frustrations turned into anger and soon, I was scolding my poor boy for disrupting mommy’s work.

Almost immediately after, feelings of guilt rushed in. So I thought since I couldn’t get any work done, I might as well play with him. Yet when I was playing with him, my heart and mind would be somewhere else – work. I was quickly overwhelmed by thoughts of all that needs to be accomplished but couldn’t get done. Then I heard a voice in my head saying, “You are terrible! You can’t get cope with a sick child and look at all the work that’s left undone! Other moms can handle it, why can’t you?”

Does the scenario above sound familiar to you? Do you see the vicious cycle I put myself in, plus all that negative self-talk I was having?

Honestly, I didn’t realize what I was doing to myself until I had a chat with a mentor on the phone. The wise woman just asked me one simple question, “If another mom is in the same situation as you, what would you advise her to do?”

I went silent.

I would be understanding and ask her to focus on taking care of her child first. I would not tell her try to finish ALL her work, much less to criticize her. But I did all that to myself. No wonder I was feeling overwhelmed and stressed.

And I believe I’m not alone in this. It’s a common challenge moms face. So how can we deal with disruptions to our routines?

5 Ways to Deal with Disruptions

1. Accept that it is part of life
Accept that disruptions are bound to happen, no point trying to fight it. Acknowledging and accepting the disruption empowers you to deal with it better. Because when you are in a place of acceptance, you are less likely to be frustrated or stressed. This helps you to think more positively and be more creative in your problem-solving.

2. Make room for flexibility in your schedules
Having a routine or schedule is good but at the same time, we need to allow room for flexibility. How do you do that? One way is not to have a totally filled schedule. That way, you give yourself space to cope with unexpected events when they do occur.

3. Reprioritize your tasks
You are not a superwoman. When disruptions happen, time and energy will be diverted from your the tasks you planned on accomplishing. Reprioritize the items on your to-do list and complete the urgent ones first. See if you can also get some help as well.

For the rest of the tasks, reschedule them. Know this: doing it later doesn’t mean you are slacking or have gone off course (especially for the mompreneurs and WAHMs). You are still on track, working on the same tasks and towards the same goals. It’s just that it’s now put on hold. You can come back to it later and still achieve what you set out to do. You are not in a competition; you set your own pace.

4. Be kind to yourself
Don’t be hard on yourself and try to be a superwoman. Usually this happens because of some negative self-thought or we are trying to compare with someone else. But there’s no need for comparisons and there’s no grounds for comparisons. So be gentle with yourself and others around you as you deal with the situation. And sometimes, the small little disruptions could be life’s way of telling you to take a break, slow down, and refocus on the important things in life.

5. Focus on the positive
As the saying goes, there’s always two sides to a coin. In every situation, there’s always something positive about it, you just have to look. Once you find it, focus your mind on that. Remember, positive thoughts beget positive feelings, and vice versa. Would you prefer to be happy or be frustrated? It’s all a choice.

How did my story end? Well, my son has gone back to school this week and I accomplished 80% of the tasks on my to-do list in one day. I could have saved all of us the frustrations. What a precious lesson learnt.  And maybe the next time, I should just go and do this?

young woman relaxing in park

Let’s chat:
- How do you deal with the times when your child is sick and your work is disrupted?
- Do you often find yourself having negative inner dialogues? What are you most critical of yourself about?

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Images courtesy of FrameAngel and Photostock, freedigitalphotos.net

Comments

  1. I actually through that more often than I’d like to admit. Used to give me anxiety attacks. Luckily I have a husband who keeps my head straight and reminds me that no situation is impossible, given a little time and effort.

    But if I have appointments/assignments that I can’t break, I usually turn to my parents or my-in laws for help. They love my daughter and is always looking for an excuse to keep her with them and spoil her rotten. ;p

    But if they’re not available, I take the day off. Well, I force myself to take the day off. I turn off my WiFi and just focus on my baby. It’s hard but I keep reminding myself that I became a WAHM for her, not for work. Her welfare is more important than any job.
    Julia Jasmine Sta Romana recently posted…General Manager – April 18, 2013My Profile

    • Hi Julia, nice to have you here!

      I think in Asia, many of us are fortunate to live near our parents and parents-in-law, who are often very willing to help us look after our children. I do turn to mine once in a while too, for some help.

      I share your sentiment – that we choose to be WAHMs for our kids, so their well-being should be our priority. I’m still working on learning how to be more present and not get distracted by the mobile phone, which is the easiest way to plugin to the online world! Well done for your commitment!

  2. I can so resonate with this post. I do struggle with such internal conflicts when I have work to rush but yet, all Ally wants is for me to play with her. Especially when she doesn’t have a playmate at home. Sometimes, I do get frustrated and will tell her to go and play on her own, get Daddy to chip in his part if he is available or just give her an iPad which she can play alone for a long time with too. Of course, I know the latter is a bad solution and such decisions just left me grappling with Mummy guilt. I just feel so sorry for neglecting or simply hurting my little girl. I know at the end of the day, she is my priority and not my work. So now, I try to plan in advance my work schedule or spread out my work so I can accomplish a little during her nap time, and get things done by the dateline. It’s easier said than done and of course, there are times when things just don’t work out to my advantage, I would just remind myself what matters and put aside my work for awhile, and spend some quality time with Ally first before continuing my work later. =)

    • As moms, we will always have the challenge of trying to juggle a 101 things. These days, I keep reminding myself that my boy’s childhood is fleeting and if I don’t cherish the time now, I will regret it. I’m also learning how to focus my time and energy on what really matters in life and recognizing the distractions for what they are – with ‘noise’ all around us, sometimes we can get lost on that.

  3. Great tips! I’ve definitely struggled with this myself. I thought working from home would be easier but now that summer is here and both my husband and daughters are home full-time, it’s been a huge challenge.
    Charity Kountz recently posted…Committment to Having Something Important to SayMy Profile

    • Hi Charity! I used to think that working from home will only be a challenge for moms with younger kids but turned out even if they are 8 or 9 years old, they can still be clammering for your attention (something I learnt from my friends)! Nevertheless, I hope you and your family are enjoying the summer break!

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