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Monday Mom challenge: Take something off your plate

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

Creating a less full schedule

For all we do as moms, organizing, planning, figuring it out, and just plain making it all happen, sometimes the plate gets over-full. Sometimes what seems like a small little addition or just a minor adjustment turns out to be the straw that breaks the camel's back. For all we want to do and can do as moms and as individuals, sometimes the best thing to to is to take something off your plate. To say no.

Woman Scheduling Day

It's so much easier to say than it is to do. We so often want to do it all even if we know it's not really possible - and sometimes end up doing it all, but none of it particularly well. Thing is, deciding what it is to remove can be even trickier than deciding that you need to remove something. And even while we are aware of and watch out for overscheduling with our kids, it can be hard to enforce those same guidelines with ourselves.

Something obvious

First things first, look for the most obvious item to take off. This could be just about anything. Did you pick up an extra volunteer activity recently? Agree to let your daughter try riding lessons a couple towns away? Try to implement a too ambitious cleaning out the garage schedule?

Sure, you want to do all those things, and you feel a sense of commitment but if you are feeling only pressure and no pleasure, reconsider. Commitment is one thing, driving yourself to be committed is quite another.

What can others pick up?

If getting to the weekly grocery shopping is making you crazy, can your partner pick it up? Or can you go with an online grocery delivery service? Can you find a replacement for that Sunday school teaching gig, or agree to a partnership arrangement for it?

Think of yourself as a manager for a moment and consider what you can delegate, delegate, delegate.

Keep the things that keep your sanity

If there are things on your schedule that are technically "extra," that you could remove with relative ease, but they are things that really keep you going - say, a monthly lunch with your closest girlfriends - try to keep those. Similarly, exercise may feel like an extra, and it might be hard to keep it some days, but the benefits to your overall health and well-being are bigger issues.

Look at the bigger picture

If after all this you can't find things to remove, try looking at the bigger picture. Is this a particularly busy time of year? Do things a few weeks off appear calmer and more doable? Can you just plow through until that point and then reconsider?

Everyone has busy times, and some times are busier than others. Actively working to maintain balance in such times by taking things off your plate is no shame - in fact, it's smart self and family management. Maybe one day it will be time to put those things back on the plate, but until then, you can say no.

For more tips on managing stress:

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