Yes, the asking of questions, the wondering how things work and why, the willingness to see life from a different angle or shift a part that can move… this act of being curious and asking myself better questions is changing the way I talk to myself and help guide other moms into solving their own problems.
We all deal with dread. “I’m dreading putting the laundry away.” This used to be me. I thought everyone dreaded putting the laundry away and I thought that was just part of life. After all, I think we’ll all be doing laundry until Jesus comes back, you know? Ugh. Hashtag #laundryprobs.
What I learned: when I figured out what I was dreading, I could go back and see what can shift in that area with a curious little conversation with myself…being a detective and problem solver of sorts. It sounds like this…
I dread putting the laundry away in the girls shared closet.
Why? I ask myself.
Because the clothes don’t fit. I answer back.
Hmm, so you need to make more space or buy a package of hangers or get rid of some clothes?
Ok, yes, precisely…let me look.
This girl needs more hangers for certain, but this girl has too many clothes altogether and they don’t fit in the closet or drawers when they are all clean….and now we are on our way to solving this problem!
Simply making sure the clothes fit in their spots is the reason why I was dreading putting the laundry away. This was a simple problem to be solved. A grocery bag of clothes that are worn-out cleared out and BAM, I have a spot now and the laundry putting away is being solved… (for today, that is).
The dread is good information, not bad information when I approach it with curiosity.
QUESTIONS that solve problems:
It might be waking up to dirty dishes or putting the laundry away or something else altogether.
But, a tiny bit of curiosity helps you to rewrite the story.
Make something new by asking yourself better questions.
Three questions that can solve a problem:
- What bugs me the most?
2. What’s the one thing I want to be completed everyday?
3. What am I avoiding and what is that telling me?
I’m beginning to focus on listening well and asking helpful questions when I talk to other women. I think the most helpful thing here is that I hope it clarifies and guides you into solving your own problems. I don’t know everything. I’m not the expert. You actually know more about your situation than I do…right?
It sounds like this:
A mom came over to my home after a Home Order class I taught.
She was a friend of a friend and was intrigued by some of the concepts I presented. She had a bunch of questions, so I invited her over to chat. Brittany told me about her struggles with her three kids under age five. I totally understood that stage. She confessed that she felt incredibly stressed all the time.
I asked her some questions about what she did in a day. (This was my way of hearing where the stress points may be.) It’s amazing how far a little curiosity can take you.
She told me all about what she was doing day-to-day.
I inquired of her, “What’s your evening routine?”
She responded, “Make dinner, eat dinner together as a family, give the girls a bath, and then my husband puts them to bed. Then we relax, chill, sometimes watch TV.”
Sounds pretty standard.
“When do you do your dishes?” I asked.
“In the morning.” she said.
“In the morning?” I probed, “As in the next morning?”
“Yes,” she said.
“How is that working for you?” I continued on (not a judgement at all, just a question).
“Well, I mean … it’s actually really hard. I’m trying to make breakfast and get the girls ready for preschool. I keep working at it throughout the day.”
“Had you considered doing your dishes after dinner?” I inquired. “It might be worth it to see if that helps you manage your stress throughout the day.”
We talked a bit more and I tried to encourage her.
It wasn’t but a few days later when she enthusiastically text me. “Brooke, I’ve been taking your advice. It has made my life so much less stressful. My husband even said I’m like a different person. I can’t thank you enough. Doing my dishes at night helps me wake up so relieved!”
Wow. It was just a simple physical act. A simple shift in her routine that was causing her to be a different person, the person she truly is. She became excited about life, ready to take on her day, beaming at the very idea that something could be better, different, less stressful.
As a way of approaching all the negative “I can’t”s I tell myself, I began wondering if I actually could…or if it required practice. Sounds silly, but it helped me tremendously.
CURIOUSLY, I NOW PRACTICE THE THINGS I NEED TO DO.
One time, I parked next to a van full of older women on my way into a local jewelry store. I was shopping for a special friend’s birthday. I did my ninja style strapping on of the baby carrier, I put my one year-old on my back, strapped him in, grabbed my purse, and locked car. Probably 2 minutes flat.
The lady next to me looked over and said, “Whoa! How’d you do that so fast?”
I laughed. “I know, right? I actually practiced.”
“You what?” they asked.
Internally, I had to celebrate these little practices that made life joyful, the curiosities that led me to practice efficiencies rather than complain that something wasn’t working.
I had crafted a mental game out of making life smooth and efficient. If something seemed cumbersome or impossible, I’d work at it. After all, it was just logistics…an impossibility waiting to be made possible through my willingness to learn.
OVERCOMING “I CAN’T”
I know so many moms who say, “I can’t strap the baby into the carrier by myself, so I can’t go shopping with him.” Or, “I can only use the stroller and now he doesn’t want to stay there for very long.”
“Did you ever practice?” I asked.
One mom told me how terrified she was to take her kids to DisneyWorld because she didn’t know if they could handle an all day outing. I asked, “What if you practiced?” We had this nice little conversation about taking the kids to the zoo and practicing staying out all day and asking herself questions like:
Did I like what I packed in my diaper bag? Did it work? What would I bring next time?
Did this kid or that kid like what they wore? Were the shoes comfy and good for walking?
Did it work to pack these snacks? Did the baby fall asleep in the stroller?
I think this works really well for road trips too…practicing small ones before taking on a huge one. Seeing where you can use the small opportunities to grow into the big ones.
I mean…you can’t control logistics. There will always be “Ha! I didn’t see that coming!” or “Oops, didn’t plan for that.” But, you can position yourself to be curious….as a means of being slightly more prepared or overcoming a fear….or being responsible…….it’s an idea for a starting point…or a way of thinking about it…
Once we had a blast and got really good at being at the zoo all day, we knew our family was ready to successfully take on Disney. And, that we did…confidently.
Maybe you forgot to consider asking better questions to see what can shift or “practicing” before accepting something was just so. Try a bit of curiosity and see if family life is full of tiny problems that can be solved.