You are not the list! How to make yourself dispensable (lessons from lockdown)

Last year’s lockdown was a stressy time in our household. After the adrenaline of our emergency evacuation from France, and with so much uncertainty around the future, I worked early in the morning and late at night to complete a huge work project for a late May deadline.

During the day, I tried to homeschool 3 kids (or more accurately, just diffuse the constant arguments), while my husband bounced from conference call to conference call. There was too much grumpiness, too many arguments and not enough exercise, sleep or fun. 

Oh and that project that I sacrificed so much to complete on time? The launch got delayed 7 months until February 2021, by which time much of my work needed revising anyway. 

Lesson firmly learned. 

Since then we’ve had three more mini lockdowns, and now another, more substantial one. I felt the familiar stress of work and homeschool rising, but this time around I was determined to do things differently. Here’s how:

  • Commit to daily exercise. I’ve been using the Move it Mama 20 minute body weight workouts. Done and dusted by 630am every day. Add in a dog walk and I’m sorted. 
  • Set boundaries with clients.  As soon as the lockdown was announced. I wrote to all clients and asked for flexibility with time frames. I’ve continued to grant myself a lot of leeway and resisted the urge to over promise. 
  • Give flexibility to others. Then I wrote to everyone doing work for me, and extended their time frames, to ease the pressure on others  
  • Block out work hours. I negotiated set hours when I would get to work uninterrupted and my husband would be the go-to parent, then we swap over. I don’t have nearly enough hours, but it’s a clear head space I can rely upon.  
  • No late nights at the computer. Evenings were for Ted Lasso, piano practice, board games, bubble baths, novels and knitting. It didn’t matter if there was work waiting to be done. It would just have to wait longer.

And the one that’s made the biggest difference?

I stopped being the list. 

Much has been written about women and the toll of emotional labour – all those little things we tend to do that keep the household running, from meal planning to grocery shopping, kids sports, organising home maintenance, coordinating pick-ups and drop-offs and play dates and birthday gifts. 

In my case, lockdown was turning into one long string of ‘Where’s my Zoom link?’and ‘What time is my jiu jitsu class?’ and ‘What’s for lunch/dinner/morning tea/happy hour?

It was driving me insane. And  yet….

I was my own worst enemy. Because it was all in my head. And one day I was feeling so irritated by all the questions that I took a shower and as the water streamed over my head I thought ‘There must be an app for that.’

And you know what? There is.

Before I go further I’m going to let you know that this is NOT an affiliate offer or advertisement. This app has simply changed the dynamic in our house so much that I feel compelled to share it. 

It’s called Cozi and it’s a household management app. You can:

  • Sync your family google calendars so everyone can see who is where at what time, and what child needs to be picked up when and where the Zoom link is for the class meeting. 
  • Share to-do lists – so I can add tasks to my husband’s or children’s lists, and they to mine. We can all see when the plumber’s bill has been paid or the kids’ sports registration completed, because it’s been checked off. If one of us is out and about, we can see what things need to be picked up, whether it’s groceries, birthday gifts or items from  the hardware store. And we have greater appreciation for the tasks each of us is handling because so much of our household labour and family admin is otherwise invisible. 
  • Drag and drop meal planner. Add recipes to your recipe box by pasting a web link, click to add the ingredients to your shopping list and then schedule the meal. No more ‘what’s for lunch Mum’ or ‘What shall I cook tonight?’ or ‘Do we need anything from the supermarket?

My favourite words this week? ’Check the app.’

Or

‘You’ll find that in the app.’ 

And

‘Did you look in the app?

Game. Changer. 

My goal is now to make myself completely dispensable, so that the next time I’m heading away for a few days (someday? surely?) I won’t need to write any notes. 

Wondering where I’m off to? Or when I’ll be back?  I’m afraid you’ll have to check the app

x

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