Parents and children alike, especially teenagers, are more stressed, over scheduled and overwhelmed than ever before.
This isn’t good for us and it’s not good for our children.
But what can we do about it?
This is a question I hear all the time from my friends and parents I meet everywhere.
I hear it from my children’s friends, most especially the high schoolers.
I hear it from people all over the country.
All of this stress and overwhelm isn’t good for anyone and it directly impacts happiness in a very negative way.
So today I’m going to give you three simple strategies for reducing stress and overwhelm in your life and helping your children reduce stress and overwhelm in theirs.
The strategies are simple, but just because something is simple doesn’t mean it’s ‘easy’. You have to actually put these 3 strategies into action if you want to get the benefit of them – and reduce stress and overwhelm in your life and help you children reduce it in theirs.
So watch the video, learn what the 3 strategies are and then DO THEM, right after the video!
Don’t wait until later today, or tomorrow or next week because you know what will happen! You’ll get distracted and overwhelmed with everything else you have to do and you won’t do it and instead just continue being stressed and overwhelmed and ultimately unhappy because of it!
So take out a piece of paper and take notes and then put what you learn into action today to start being less stressed, overwhelmed, over scheduled and ultimately happier instead!
Hi. Cheri Fogarty here, author of The Habit Gratitude Blueprint™ For Busy Parents & Families and Founder of the Best Life Blueprint™ for Busy Families, where we show you step-by-step how to teach your children to design, create and live their best lives.
Today, I just want to talk to you about something that I think every mom and dad out there feels; completely stressed, overwhelmed and over-scheduled. We feel that and many of our children do too. The question is, and I get asked this all the time; “What can we do about it?”
Nobody seems to want to give up anything. They’re on this treadmill, in this rat race and they don’t know what to do about it. They know it’s not good for them, they know it’s not good for their kids, but they don’t know what to do.
So today I’m going to give you three easy steps. Of course, I have trained on this and could train and teach this and write an entire book about this, and entire books have been written about it. But I’m going to just give you three super simple things you can put into action today to start reducing the stress and overwhelm.
- STEP 1: Prioritize & Know What’s Most Important
The first thing you need to do, and you know this, is prioritize. You have to ask yourself, and the answer is most likely “no,” “is everything you’re doing, is everything you’re children doing really, really important? Is it part of creating your best lives or is it just busy work and things that have to get done.”
Yes, I know, I’m a real mom and I live in the real world just like you. Dinner, dishes and driving need to get done. There are things that, yes, on a daily basis we need to do. That’s just part of the job, that’s just part of life. I’m talking about the bigger picture. If you list everything you do each and every day, at work, at home, both places, with the kids, for yourself, I know it’s extraordinarily long. I can’t even look at my to-do list. It’s overwhelming, right?
What you can do is start looking at that list and prioritizing what’s most important, aside from the things that have to get done. Ask yourself what’s most important in your life? What’s part of creating your best life?
Start asking the question when you have an opportunity or there’s something on your list, look at each thing and say, “If I only had two months to live, would I do this?”
The reason I say “two months to live,” is that I actually faced this. Eight years ago, almost eight years ago now, when I was diagnosed with breast cancer with four children under the age of 10. I had to ask myself that question, because I truly believed I only had two months to live for a variety of reasons. I had to ask myself that and I’ll tell you, I wasn’t going to do dinner and dishes anymore. I’m kidding. If I really, truly only had two months to live, I would have said, “Somebody else needs to do this stuff. I have other more important things to do.”
I have other more important things to do, because I knew what I would do with those last two months. If you’ve heard my description of my “Dear Girls” journals and things that I wrote and all the best life lessons and character development I wanted to teach. That was most important.
What was my legacy going to be for my children? I didn’t want my children looking back when I was gone, whether it was then when I actually did think I only had two months to live, or in the future. I don’t want my kids looking back and going, “Gosh, Mom was really good at dishes. She was really good at doing the laundry. She was, really good at nagging us to pick up things.” I didn’t want my kids to have that as their memory of me.
It was really when I truly believed I had two months to I’ve, I was like, “Gosh, you know, hm. Okay, I’ve done well at some things but not others. This is what’s important.” It really forces you, if you asked that question, and hopefully you’re not actually faced with the reality of it like I was, but when you ask that question, it puts things in perspective.
Yes, I understand again, dinner dishes, driving, a lot of the things in the home need to get done. There’s a lot of stuff that you’re probably doing, and I know that I used to do, I don’t anymore but that I used to do, that was busy work. That’s not part of creating my best life or helping my children create theirs.
This is just one example. I have always loved when they were little volunteering in the classroom. In the classroom with my children and, that I did. Now, I don’t volunteer. There are plenty of other moms that do. I don’t feel the obligation to because I spend more than enough time with my children. I’m glad that other moms do this, but something I say no to and I did before breast cancer but now it gives me an excuse is, I don’t go volunteer in the library or at the front office. If it doesn’t have to do specifically with my children and it’s not in line with my values and my priorities, I don’t do it. If the school absolutely couldn’t find someone else, sure I might step up, like I have to be room mom on occasion when no one else did. Generally speaking, I say no.
That brings us to the second thing. Number one, prioritize. What are your values? What’s most important to you as far as yourself and as a parent. That’s where it starts. If you know what’s most important, it’s easy. It’s easy, if you pretend you have two months to live, it’s easy. Would you do this, yes or no, if you only had two months to live?
- STEP 2: Learn To Say ‘No’
The second thing is you’ve got to just learn to say no. You have to, I love this and I don’t know where I heard it or maybe I made it up, you have to say no to the good, or the bad, so you can say yes to the great.
We only have so much time. Being a stressed, crazy, overwhelmed person is not good for you and it’s not good for your children, and it’s not modeling health and wellness, right, or happiness. You have to learn to say no to things.
Again, I was always really good at that but after breast cancer, I was a pro because that was a good excuse. People wouldn’t understand before when I would say no and I got tired of explaining that it was not in line with my values or whatever. I said, “Listen, after having breast cancer and knowing what’s most important, I am just not going to do that. Thank you for the opportunity.”
Women need to get better at that. I’ve read one of the most famous books ever, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I actually have three copies of it plus a digital copy because I just kept buying it when I couldn’t find it years ago. I have highlighted, read this so many times, and of course there are so many lessons in here, but there’s one in particular where Stephen Covey’s wife is saying something because she wished she’d said no to something and I’ve never forgotten this. I’ve highlighted it every time I read it.
It says, I’m just going to quote from page 156 in my copy: “Then she called one of her dear friends to ask if she would serve on her committee. Her friend listened for a long time and then said, ‘Sandra, that sounds like a wonderful project, a really worthwhile undertaking. I appreciate so much your inviting me to be a part of it. I feel honored by it. For a number of reasons, I won’t be participating myself but I want you to know how much I appreciate your invitation.'” It says, “Sandra was ready for anything but a pleasant ‘no.’ She turned to me and sighed, ‘I wish I’d said that.'”
Oh my gosh, I have used this, I can’t even tell you how many times! Thank you Stephen Covey, I know you’re no longer with us, but thank you. That was one of those pivotal things. I do that all the time. I use a paraphrase of that and I read it because I usually get it wrong. “Thank you so much for the opportunity. For a variety of reasons, I won’t be able to participate in that right now, but thank you so much for thinking of me.”
I mean, what can people say to that? It’s true and it’s from the heart. Again, you have to pick and choose. If it’s something really important to you and it’s great, and it’s part of creating your best life or helping your children create theirs, then do it. I’m not saying, you have to decide. I’m telling you, I’m giving you examples of what’s important to me and what’s not. You have to decide what your values and priorities are, right, what your best life is.
I’m just giving you a framework to work with, which is: know what’s most important to you, what your values and priorities are. Say no to the good, or the bad, for sure say no to the bad or the stressful, so that you can say yes to the great.
- STEP 3: Take Things OFF Your List
The third thing you have to do is just now take things off your list. First prioritize, then don’t add more if it’s not part of creating your best life. Then, you have to start taking some of the unimportant stuff off of your list.
A great way to figure out what those things are is if you look at your list and you see something on it, now again something that absolutely must be done even if you don’t want to do it, yes I get it, totally not talking about that. I’m talking about the things that you absolutely don’t have to do. You do not have to volunteer at your school library, or at the front desk. You don’t have to unless you have a school that makes you, and then that’s crazy as far as I’m concerned because when we grew up, our parents weren’t allowed in the schools. I don’t know what’s gone on that everybody now goes to school all the time. It’s crazy to me.
Anyway, that said, to me unless your school makes you do it, that’s a choice. Now, you can choose because maybe it is important to you to volunteer at the front desk. Maybe you get a lot of social interaction out of it. Maybe your kids like seeing you there. Whatever the case may be, if that is part of your values and priorities, do it. It’s just not part of mine. If I have the choice between volunteering in the classroom or volunteering in the front office, or not volunteering at all, but if I have the choice between those two, I will take the classroom every time because that’s what’s in line for me. It is a choice. Realize if you’re as stressed as you are, it’s because of choices, because we don’t have to do everything, we don’t have to say yes to everything. We can say no, like Stephen Covey’s wife wishes she had.
You say no, trust your gut and when you do you’re relieved. I tell my kids this all the time. By the way, you should be teaching these strategies to your children as well when they go down their list of things. Once you do this, do it with your children, please.
Kids are so stressed and overwhelmed these days, it’s ridiculous. I do this with my kids all the time and I’ll give you an example in just a minute of how we just used it. I always say, “If it causes you stress in your gut, if you look at it,” and again, if it has to be done, that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about choice things. More things are a choice than you think about, than you probably think are the case. Ask if you really do have a choice or not. Sometimes you don’t, but most of the time you do, even if you think you don’t. If it causes you stress in your gut, trust your gut. It’s another best life lesson. Trust your gut. If it causes you stress, that’s kind of the trigger I use. If it causes me stress, I don’t do it.
Here’s an example just from my life. I met with somebody the other day because I’m looking at maybe doing some media to help promote my products and programs. He’s like, “Oh my gosh, you have so much information, you have so much advice, you have so much of this. You should have your own TV show.” Now, he’s an expert in this industry, right. He would know how to put my own TV show together and do that and probably make it very successful. My initial reaction, while I was completely honored and flattered that he thought of that, I’m just sitting there and immediately, huge stress. No way, because I actually had thought about that in the past. It was like, no way would I want to do that. Why? Not because I don’t want to share my information, but I can share it right here, in my home so that in an hour from now when my kids come home, I’m here.
I work very, very hard, but I work on my schedule. Doing a show aside from the huge amount of costs I found out were associated with it which I’m not willing to put in, it caused me stress because of all of the commitments that go around that. I need to be flexible with my job. My whole business is teaching children to create their best lives and parents to create their best lives. How can I not be here for my kids when that’s my job. Not only is it my job as a parent because I’m home, but it’s my job as my business. I didn’t want that stress. There’s one example.
Now, my daughter the other day, my 15-year old, had a great opportunity. She’s very busy. She’s very smart academically and does very well. She’s had all these opportunities to do things because of it. She plays lacrosse so that’s a big commitment too. She’s a sophomore in high school. She got this invitation to do some elite math thing. I’m sure it would look great on her resume. I’m sure, and she said it would help her get into college. But it caused her stress. She thought she should do it, right, because gosh, that’s going to help her get into her dream school that’s pretty hard to get into, or it might help her. The more she thought about it, her initial reaction was stress.
We talked it through, she thought about it, and ultimately, long story short, after going through the process I taught, very similar to this, she decided that it was not in line with her values, she doesn’t want to go into any kind of field related to math, and while it might help her get into college, it might or might not, but even if it did, she was willing not to do it because of the stress, because of the added time it would take her and the stress it would cause next year, because there was an actual time commitment associated with it. With everything else she had going on, she said no. It was hard for her to say no but ultimately when she did, she was relieved. That’s another clue. If you’re relieved after you say no to something, guess what? Good choice.
Anyway, those are three things you should do yourself. Prioritize, and ask what are your values, just say no to the good so you can say yes to the great, and then get some of those things actually off your list.
Again, there is more to it than this but today you can start those three things and they can make a huge difference!
The next time, remember what Stephen Covey said in the book, the next time you have an opportunity to do something, somebody asks you to do something, and even if in the beginning it’s like, “Oh that sounds great,” if you get that little pit in your stomach and that little stress then say no. Just say no. Use the quote, rewind the video if you don’t have the book and use a similar, or the same quote and feel good about it, because you can’t do everything and be happy.
You can’t be completely overscheduled, overstressed and overwhelmed and be happy.
Guess what, if you’re not, your kids aren’t going to be either. You need to model your best life for them. You also again, by the way, kids are so stressed like I said, they need to go through this process. It’s really important to do. Ultimately, if my daughter doesn’t get into college because of that one choice, the college she wants, that’s okay. Is that likely to happen? Who knows, probably not. She knew that that may be a factor. Again, it doesn’t matter because it wasn’t worth the stress.
Hope that helps. A little longer than usual, but I just think this is such an important thing and I think so many parents, moms in particular, are so stressed and overwhelmed and pulled in so many different directions and I know for sure our kids are. I thought it was really important to talk about this today, to tell you some real life examples and to kind of let you off the hook. I do like my “two months to live” I know some of you may not kind of go with that. That’s okay. Come up with your own solution. I really do use that because like I said, I truly thought I had two months to live. Boy, it puts your priorities and what’s most important laser focused, laser focused. Again, however you want to frame it, frame it but do these things and model creating and living your best life to your children. Part of the way to do that are these three steps and being less stressed, less overwhelmed, and less overscheduled and helping your kids be too.
Thank you so much for watching and as always, thank you so much for being a mom or dad and for everything you do each and every day.
It’s a huge job. If you found value in this video and you think it might help other moms or dads or children, please share it with your mom or dad network so we can all be happier, so we can all create our best lives and teach our children to, too. Thank you so much for watching and I’ll see you next time.
p.s. Another way to reduce stress is to ask for help, something women especially need to get better at! We’ll cover that in a future episode, but feel free to get a head start and start asking for help when you need it!!
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