1% of women have an ENTJ personality. 2.5% of women have diagnosed ADHD. Nearly all of my strongest strengths and weakest weaknesses are attributable to one or both. Often when I tell my stories, my friends say, "You should write a book." Well - I don't have near enough focus for that. Instead, what you have a here is a collection of anything that stayed in my brain long enough that I just had to write it down. Read on if you dare.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

This Week's Plate

Disclaimer: This post is intended neither as a complaint nor as a pat on my own back.  Please take it simply as statements of fact and accompanying reflections.

I've started a few different posts this year in which I intended to express some honesty over the struggles I've had the last few months, but I had a hard time putting it out there without sounding ungrateful.  My life is awesome.  I have an incredible husband, intelligent kids, a beautiful new house, a great job, plenty of friends, hobbies I enjoy... it seems completely unfair that I mention that some days I can barely convince myself to get out of bed.

But yesterday, my friend Amy re-posted a great article that helped me consider my exhaustion from a slightly different perspective.  Go ahead and read it here if you're interested.

Interestingly, I really don't find myself comparing my plate to that of others.  I have always firmly held to the following beliefs:

  • Everybody gets to pick their own priorities
  • It's totally okay to have different priorities than mine
So when somebody says, "I don't have time to sing in the Ward Choir," I promise I really don't think, "You don't have time? What are you doing with your 24 hours."  Because I know that I really do get to chose to put the things that are on my plate on my plate.  And I generally like having them there!

No, my problem over the last 10 weeks or so has been comparing my plate to my previous plates.  3 years ago, I performed in 3 shows, directed 2, and was completing my Masters degree.  And I felt vivaciously full of energy and like I could conquer the world.  I pulled all-nighters to get it all done.  I bounced right back and did it again!  I hiked.  I read.  I worked.  I blogged (a whole lot more than I do now).  

Now, I do the things I committed to.  Mostly.  I feel like I am getting things done, but not particularly well or in a particularly timely way.  I procrastinate terribly.  I do very little I feel I can be truly proud of, and there are piles of things that just don't get done.  Literally.  Piles.

My bedroom floor

What's wrong with my plate?

The other times I've tried to write this post, I didn't dare.  Every single thing on my plate is a good thing.  A thing that makes me happy.  A thing I want to do.

But I probably wouldn't sit down and eat everything on the dessert plate all at once.  [I say probably because I actually might.  But that would ruin the metaphor.]  I purposefully created the graphic to include things I love.  Things I have a really difficult time turning down.  But if I ate every single one of those, even over the course of a week (that's 2 desserts per day, folks), I would feel physically weighed down.  I'd probably get diabetes.  The doctor would probably tell me I could never eat frosting straight out of the can again.  And where would I be then?

I still don't know what's wrong with my plate.  Why it seems to have suddenly shrunk and refuses to hold all the desserts it once held.  But I don't want whatever the stress-level disease is equivalent to diabetes, that's for sure.  

To be honest, I'd rather fix the plate.  

But since that doesn't seem to be working, I may have to pass up a few desserts.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Default Parent Theory vs the Project Manager Approach

I read a pretty interesting blog yesterday.  To fully understand the direction of this post, you should probably read it too, here.  And then wander back to this blog to hear my take.

After reading this aloud to Kirk (omitting some of the words I don't like to say out loud), we agreed this "default parent" thing sounds exhausting!  We're grateful to have our own approach that, so far, works pretty well for us.  In the 22 hours since discussing our theory, the language has crept into our daily vernacular as we point out the parts of our kids lives over which we have become the "project manager."

Case in point.  Wednesday was Adam's first Pinewood Derby.  And, 6 days later, his big 4th grade castle project is due.  If we lived in a "default parent" household, one of us would be burned out and exhausted tonight.  Instead, Kirk acted as Project Manager of the derby:

And I headed up the castle project:

What does it mean to be the project manager?  The project manager is chiefly responsible for being aware of deadlines and requirements and should handle any logistics outside the reasonable scope of responsibility shouldered by the project-bearing child.  Trips to the store.  Power tools.  Brainstorming.  Re-focusing.  Motivation.  Scheduling.  Each of these duties fall to the Project Manager.

This is not to say the other parent is absolved of responsibility.  The Project Manager can delegate any portion of the project to the other parent who, as the other parent, is still required to be at least vaguely aware of deadlines and willing to help as needed.  I texted Michelle to arrange for red paint for the derby car's tail lights.  Kirk drilled the holes in the drawbridge.  I'm proud to say the Fife family acts as a team.

But as we discussed the internal workings of our household, we found that this Project Manager concept doesn't just apply to... well, projects.  We have each, over the years, stepped up and become Project Manager over the many tasks required of involved parents.

Kirk is Project Manager over daily homework assignments.
I am Project Manager over large school projects.
Kirk is Project Manager over administering medicine to sick children.
I am Project Manager of dentist appointments, well-child visits, and vaccinations.
Kirk is Project Manager of sports sign ups, practices, and fundraisers.
I am Project Manager of audition preparation, lessons, and rehearsals.
Kirk is Project Manager of making dinner.
I am Project Manager of meal planning.
Kirk is Project Manager of laundry.
I am Project Manager of new clothing purchases and meeting school uniform requirements.
Kirk is Project Manager of dinner.
I am Project Manager of breakfast.
Kirk is Project Manager of car maintenance.
I am Project Manager of home organization.
Kirk is Project Manager of throw-up and potty accidents relating to children or pets.
I am gratefully not involved in any way.  :)
Kirk is Project Manager of electronics, subscriptions, and utilities.
I am Project Manager of family pictures, traditions, and holidays.
Kirk is Project Manager of lost items.
I am Project Manager of keeping Kirk busy finding lost items.  ;)
Kirk is Project Manager of buying birthday party presents.
I am Project Manager of Christmas presents.

In our house, there is no "default parent."  Our kids generally go to whichever parent happens to be available for the solution to their dilemma, unless their question is specifically related to a clearly defined Project Manager.  For example, the kids would not ask Kirk a question about practicing the piano, and they mostly know better than to ask me questions about their video games.  We laughed when we read the part of the "default parent" blog that mentioned the calendar.  We both share a Google calendar that includes not only the details of our individual schedules, but also the daily obligations of each child.  At any given moment, we are equally aware of the schedules and commitments of our kids, and on any given day we are equally involved in pulling off the intricate plans required to get each kid where he belongs.

It can still be exhausting, for sure, but after contemplating what it would be like to be primarily responsible for everything on the list, I am grateful that the "Project Manager" approach works for us.