Uncommitting to Being Overcommitted

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I have an ugly confession to make – now that I am a mom, I’ve become a side-project junkie. Time is my currency and Pinterest is my gateway drug. If projects were a household item for me, they would be a drawer full of mismatched koozies that multiply after getting wet. I can’t resist the temptation of jumping head-first into something that is time consuming, requires an unnecessary financial investment, and, for me, doesn’t come with an exit strategy. I’ve started searching for a new hit now that I’m 37 weeks pregnant and the kitchen finally has new hardware.

The Symptoms of an Over-involved Mom

I say “yes” far too often at work. I make commitments to learning how to do things that require more time and practice than I’m willing to give – like decorate a two-tier baptism cake when I can barely scramble an egg. I join committees at church which never fail to grow into a second job. I watch HGTV for one hour, and, after what I can only describe as a black out, I’m suddenly handing my credit card to the friendly cashier at Lowes.

One of my lengthier project indulgences came to me when my eldest son was around 2 months old. After hating every picture that I took on the expensive DSLR my husband bought me for Christmas, I began frantically reading on how to improve my photography skills. Every time he nursed, I have my iPhone in my hand, Pinteresting tips, tricks, and hacks to make my pictures look better. By Christmas, I was offering mini-sessions, setting up a website, and registering my side hustle’s name at the Clerk of Court. View some personal evolution below.

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So what accounts for this chronic illness of stretching myself far too thin? I fear not being busy. Filling up my days with unfinished business gives me a sense of control – I have complete power over things that could bring me satisfaction. I’ve dubbed this condition, “fear of being unsatisfied” or “FOBU” for you trendier moms. But like most bad habits, I recognize that there is a law of diminishing returns at work here. There is only so much satisfaction that these side projects can bring before the expense of time away from my family outweighs the takeaway.

I often chastise myself that I don’t feel like being a mom is enough – maybe, rather, I don’t feel like being myself is enough. I need to pile on more and more that will allow me to step back and say, “I did this.” And on the days when all of my extra commitments, projects, and self-proclaimed side hustles come crashing down on me, I make a new vow to change my ways.

I’ve made a plan to reclaim time and Marie Kondo my life so that I can refocus on my children, my husband, and my sanity. I’ve identified two things that might allow me to let go of project binging and enjoy the little things in life.

First — Go through extra commitment dry spells.

I was shocked at how cathartic it felt to place an away message on my business’ Facebook page as I prepared during the last weeks before my second little boy came. Why not have the same attitude toward those who seek me out for extra commitments? When I feel busy or overwhelmed, I’m going to give myself a time frame before I promise my time to anything new as though I have a mental away message. My mental away messages won’t be as pithy as they were in 10th grade. Probably less Blink 182 lyrics too.

Second — Affirm myself.

I’m not one to give myself atta-girls for daily triumphs. I have to go big. But what that leaves me with at the end of the day is a feeling that I have accomplished very little, and the little that has been done is inconsequential. Each day, I’m going to attempt to affirm myself in the victories of the day – grading a batch of essays, not allowing my boys to eat crackers for dinner, only watching Trolls twice before bed.

I think if there is any other mom who has every felt this way, we should start a support group. I will do all of the planning straight away.

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