Turning Shit Off and Finally Being Present
Turning shit off and finally being present is a huge issue for working parents. Whether you work from home or you go to the office every day, it is really hard, sometimes, at 5 or 6 o’clock to get your brain out of work mode.
It's hard to not continue to think, on your drive home or while you're making dinner, about how you can solve that problem that came up this afternoon, or different ways that you can make a report be clearer or go faster, or even just making the workplace better in general.
We enjoy our jobs, and we take pride in what we do, so when we leave work with something that still needs to be done, something still hanging, we have a natural tendency to keep thinking about it, and keep trying to solve our problem long after we left the office.
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Now back to it
What we think about at work
What we think about at work
When we're at work, we often think about what we want to do that evening. Whether it's tidying up the house, spending time with the kids, or spending time with your husband, we think … while we're at work... about how we're going to be present at home that night.
But, when it comes time to leave work we have the hardest time turning shit off. Many of us are almost incapable of turning everything off, we feel the need to multi-task everything, including our relationships.
Whether we go straight home or we have to stop and pick up the kids, and no matter how long or short our drive is, we’re usually still thinking about work. And then once we get the kids or once we get home, we're wondering why we’re so irritated, why we’re snapping at everybody and why we have such a “short fuse” even with the dog.
Maybe you spent your drive thinking about all the work you have to do tomorrow and planning out your day. Maybe you spent your drive talking to a co-worker trying to fix a problem they're having, or maybe you spent your drive talking to your husband, both of you talking about your day at work.
None of this is helping you. None of this is helping you to be who you want to be when you get home.
The Ideal Home Vision
The ideal home vision
Now, everyone’s vision of how they want their family to be is different. But more often than not, the constant, is that we want to be an actual family...not just people who happen to live in the same house and kinda look alike.
We want to be together in the evenings, not having to think about “what’s next”, not having to worry about tomorrow’s presentation, or that issue you couldn’t fix earlier, or that shitty manager they just hired who thinks s/he can tell you what to do when they barely even know your name.
We envision things like
The Monkey Brain
The monkey brain
I remember a church sermon once, I may have mentioned it in one of my early blog posts...don’t worry I’m not getting all religious here..there’s a point.
I remember a church sermon once where the priest said that our minds are like wild monkeys that just got stung by a scorpion.
Do you have the visual?
Your favorite monkey just got stung by a scorpion...it’s OOO-OOO’ing and AH-AH-AH’ing all over the place, going absolutely bat shit crazy (a lot of animal references today...hmmm). It’s running and jumping all around, with no regard for where it is or who or what else is around, just trying to ease its pain, trying to provide relief for itself.
That’s our brain...our brain is jumping from topic to topic, situation to situation, what-if to what-if. It has a really hard time focusing on one thing when we are bombarded by the bajillion things coming through our phones, TVs, computers, radios, tablets, and whatever other devices you have, every day.
What Are You Supposed To Do
What are you supposed to do?
How do you take all that shit, all the distractions, ESPECIALLY WORK, and turn it off so that the memories are there.
So that, when your kids are adults and think back, they’re not thinking about how you were always answering text messages or phone calls, and pulling out your laptop to fix other people’s problems?
So that they don’t say things like, “When I was a kid, Mom was there, but I could tell her head was somewhere else.”
Let’s do the easy thing first.
Make the choice…
Now, to actually implement it
Honestly, this is an area I’ve always struggled with because...workaholic. I’m am in the process of becoming a former workaholic, but it’s hard. It’s really hard when you like the feeling of creating things, when you get that selfish high from fixing other people’s problems, and when you have that voice in your head that’s telling you you NEED to be available for everyone else because...what would they think if you weren’t…
If you want to do this in an all-or-nothing kind of way, I’m behind you, I’m proud of you and I admire you! Go for it! Talk with your husband/significant other and make sure the two of you are on the same page and start tonight!
If you need to do a more gradual digital detox...please know there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m usually an “all in” or “all-or-nothing” kinda gal, but with this...with work and tech...I needed to start with the gradual detox.
Here's how you turn shit off
Here’s how you turn shit off…
Did you read my post about how many bags you carry having an effect on your mental and emotional well being?
Here’s the link if you want to read (or listen) really quick.
The reason I ask is because on the days you choose not to bring your laptop home, I want you to be conscious of a few things…
I can, with almost 100% certainty, say it’s going to feel refreshing, it’s going to have a positive effect on your entire mood for the evening.
And, in the morning when it’s time to leave, you’re going to feel physically lighter which leads to happier.
Emails...turn off the notifications when you get home. If it’s THAT important, someone will call.
Text messages...put your phone to silent, at least until the kids go to bed.
We are a society of instant gratification, we want everything now, in fact we want everything yesterday in a lot of cases. But no one talks about the flip side of that instant gratification.
There is someone on the other side of your “now” who is losing their mind to get everything done as fast as possible for everyone they feel obligated to.
And...this is you...this is you for all those people who you feel the need to accommodate.
They want their answers “now” and you’re losing your freaking mind over it...and you may be losing your relationships too.
Everything else can wait
Everything else can wait.
People say you’re going to miss this time with your kids...maybe...maybe not...I’m not going to miss repeating myself six-trillion times to pick up toys. I’m not going to miss the fits after school because they are so physically and mentally exhausted but they don’t know how to communicate it. I’m not going to miss asking if they washed their hands or wiped their butts.
But they also say they’re only young once...and THAT I can be 100% on board with. You want the memories, of course, but what’s more important is that your kids have the memories. That their memories aren’t consumed with mom and dad always at the beck and call of work. That the focus of their memories isn’t the way you would cut everything short with them and tell them “later” and “not now” for EVERYTHING.
We’re shaping our kids here, mama, how we treat them is going to be the foundation for how they treat their kids, if they choose to have them.
And, if your kids aren’t your motivation for turning shit off, then find something that is. Maybe it’s the relationship with your husband or significant other. Maybe it’s your relationship with yourself.
You have to find the reason that will keep you motivated, something that will keep you from falling back into old habits.
This can be hard, I’m not going to say it’s not, but once you get into the habit of turning shit off, it feels really good. It feels like you have your life back!
I'm happy we could have this time together today.
I’d love to hear how you started implementing turning shit off and how things have changed for you since you’ve been doing it.
Shoot me an email or we can connect on the socials. All the links are below.
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I look forward to chatting with you!!
Make it an amazing day!!
Hey, I'm Natalie and I'm an author, a wife, and mom of two kids and two dogs.
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