Things happier parents know: you don’t really “have to” do that much

Photo by Kirsten LaChance on Unsplash

I have to get up at 5:00 AM tomorrow—to do all the things I want to do.

I’ve got have-tos in my day, of course. There’s a big block of work to be done that’s not optional, farm chores, and a business meeting. I would put getting my home ready for a family visit and prepping a couple of meals for that visit in the “have-to” category as well, although that’s arguable. We could eat take-out (like we did tonight). I could let the family member see what the room we use as a guest room really looks like (I really couldn’t).

Realistically, though, my day is filled with a lot of “want-tos”. I want to take my daughter to a store she’s been asking to visit. I want to work on the novel I’m writing. I want to exercise. I want to pick up the child who’s had a rough go at school lately rather than carpooling. I want to get my son after his soccer game (which I won’t be watching, because I can’t do everything). I want to ride my horse. And I want to get my hair cut.

I could dump all in the have-to category (except maybe the horse, although he’s very fat and could use the exercise). Then I could promptly stress about all the ways the various things overlap and intersect, making the whole day a logistical nightmare.

I choose not to look at it that way. Instead, I’m paying attention to the choices I’m making. Writing a novel, not reading one. Shopping trip for daughter over soccer game. School pick-up and haircut over getting ahead of my work. Riding my horse instead of cleaning the rest of the house. Exercise instead of packing for Friday’s work trip before I’m too tired to see straight.

Making choices about how I spend my time—and paying attention to the fact that I have choices—makes me happier.

One Response to “Things happier parents know: you don’t really “have to” do that much”

  1. Amy Haneline says:

    I just learned about you via Gretchen Rubin who I follow daily. I read your interview with her this morning and it was like reading my own story. I too am a planner…if I don’t have a plan, I feel out of control. I have the same exercise habits….get ‘er done first thing in the morning otherwise it’s not going to happen. My hectic life with family and a full time job forces me to sometimes choose one thing over the other and often feel ‘too busy’ to do it all, and have the associated guilt that goes with those choices.

    I appreciate your words and I am constantly trying to find ways to be a happier human and appreciate the ‘organized chaos’ we often are forced to operate in. Planning on following you from here on out and can’t wait for more solid advice so I feel like I have my head above water.

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