Confessions of an Overplanning Mom
Exhilaration from Planning
Even before becoming a parent, I was always one who felt excited receiving my Student Planner while in school. The layout of calendars and lines for to-do lists gave me thrills. Then as a teacher, the thrill was first purchasing my Lesson Plan book and color coding the subject headings. As a homeschooling mom, I continue to feel the excitement with my plan book, and our family calendar. Now before you think how dorky this may be, I will let you in on a secret, that although I love planning, I do need work on fulfilling all of the plans! As an overplanning mom, I am enthusiastic about many goals but may have the tendency to overbook or have too idealistic goals. I cannot tell you how many times I have to edit the date of my tasks on my planner app to tomorrow. Or how many times I draw an arrow in my hard copy planner to the next day.
The Desire to “Do it All”
I confess to wanting to do too much. It’s not that I purposefully want to stress myself out and overbook my day. I just want to accomplish many things. I see something that interests me and I want to try it.
In another sense, I know life is short, so I also just want to be able to do all that I can while I am able to. There are activities that appeal to me or look like great opportunities for my family. I guess there is that sense sometimes that I don’t want to miss out on this chance.
The Need to Fill in Time
On quieter days (which I must admit are rare to come by) my usual pace of go go go comes to a halt, and it feels oddly empty. So sometimes I feel antsy not having something lined up to do. Then I end up coming up with activities to fill in that gap.
Don’t get me wrong, I do love those “lazy” days and appreciate them, but after first getting over the initial shock of realizing there is nothing on the schedule. Depending on my energy level and the kids’ mood, I may or may not embrace the lazy day. On those days when the kids wear me down so much, I will definitely say YES to those quiet days. And the only thing I want to list on the planner is to relax with a movie or sleep.
The Distraction of the “Shiny New Object”
I confess that I feel a sense of curiosity and enthusiasm for many things. Social media does not help much with this. I love social media because I can see what is happening with friends, family, and people or businesses I follow. But it can also be a major distraction. Let me illustrate my point further. I could have three goals for what I want to accomplish in the day. As I’m trying to get to task one, I hear a notification from my phone or see the red circled number calling out to me that there is a new event in the area. Of course, it looks like fun, so I want to add it to my calendar. Then while on social media, I see adorable pictures of a lesson or craft that someone is doing, and again, of course, it looks like something I want to try out with my kids. I sometimes feel like that dog from the movie, Up, who gets distracted by squirrels. I’ll be in the middle of one task, and then “Squirrel!” Another idea distracts me and I move off course with my original task, and it doesn’t get completed.
I am learning that this can pose a problem for myself because I have only added on to my wish list of goals, making it less attainable to accomplish them all. It can also cause a feeling of insufficiency or lack of success when little to nothing was done.
Not accounting for unscheduled events
As much as I can map out a day by the hour, there is no way to account for anything that can go wrong or that can shift events in the day. As a parent, it is natural for things to go off course because not only are you monitoring your own timeline, but there are also the kids’ events and time table. I can guesstimate the number of potty breaks and have a good idea of how long it is to dress up and to eat. But, one can never tell how many sibling quarrels there will be, or one cannot predict that a piece of a toy will be missing right when you’re trying to leave. One cannot determine how many meltdowns there will be. So even with the most perfect plan, things can go differently than expected. Then those items will be moved to another day.
Reflections and Moving Forward
Moving forward, if I want to remedy the overplanning mom syndrome, I need to try to implement the following:
- I need to cut back. This does not mean forgetting about my goals and cutting them out completely. It means I realize the need for realistic and attainable plans. I need to start off by asking “What can I really accomplish today (this week or this month)?” and have clear actionable steps with an appropriate time frame.
- In addition, allowing a buffer time for unforeseen events will be helpful. Instead of thinking I can finish these five tasks today, I will plan for three or four with the thought of something popping up. If nothing comes up, then even better. There is some additional free time in the day.
- Moving forward, I will need to remove as many distractions as possible, and try to stay focused on the task at hand. That means I can allow for a time to check my e-mail, or look at Facebook. There can be the tendency and addiction to check the phone so many times throughout the day, which can be unnecessary.
- Accept that I can have a lot of goals, but they do not all have to be done right now. I have a “brain dump” area in a notebook that I can pull from when I’m ready to take on the next project. Closing that notebook is key so I don’t see all of the things I want to accomplish, distracting me further from what I’m doing at the moment.
Hopefully soon I will go from an overplanning mom to a “just-right” planning mom. What are some additional tips you have for planning your day?