To-do lists can get long. Choosing a priority can result in uncertainty. Typically, in such a situation, the human response goes one of three ways:
- Ostrich: bury the head in the sand
- Energizer Bunny: look really busy doing not much of anything
- Balanced Bird: prioritize in order of time sensitivity and importance; chug along at a balanced pace of movement and relaxation.
In the Educational Kinesiology work, options one and two are considered unintegrated while option three is called integrated. When I’m stressed, I often vacillate between the first two. I may try really hard and then I’ll give up. For example, when packing for a trip, I create lists and piles (food, clothes, herbs, more food). All of that prepping makes me tired. I might bark orders at those around me before I mentally check out (head in screen parallels head in sand) and surf Facebook or Pinterest, neither of which are priorities.
Preschoolers do this all the time. In my Montessori preschool, dressing for outdoors in the winter demonstrated these states beautifully. Inevitably, at least one child threw mittens at others, bounced around like Tigger, and talked a blue streak instead of getting their dressed for the outdoors. There was always another child who couldn’t handle flying mittens, bouncing bodies, and excessive noise; this child, with his head “in the sand” so-to-speak, was last to get dressed. He couldn’t start with all of the sensory distractions. A few children mastered how to dress while filtering incoming stimuli; they modeled integration. They could move and think simultaneously; likewise, they could stop and politely request help when necessary.
Teenagers model these behaviors in all areas of their lives. Socially, they may give it their all-trying hard to fit in. When that doesn’t work, they may then give up and hibernate in their bedroom. Academically, it is similar. Those that struggle with a subject or two may feel that trying is futile. They may not do the homework or submit it. Those that try to persevere may get emotional. Sometimes our teens even resort to toddler-like behavior. Tantrums anyone? It can be a joy to work with teens who are willing to move through stress and learn from it. Recognizing, naming and choosing are key elements.
Choosing a Priority
How do we move through un-integration to a place of integrated choice-making and prioritizing? We are not born with these skills. They have to be taught intentionally. Some of the best learning is through personal experience. Name the state that you and/or others are in. “Wow, your shoulders are slumped. Are you overwhelmed?” “Hmmm, my heart is pounding and my words are hurtful. Why am I feeling this way? Is it because of XYZ?” The more we practice reflecting and naming, the better we get at moving from un-integration to integration. As we reflect, we may even find patterns of what works well for our individual personality.
Practically and personally speaking, Google Calendar is my lifesaver…it tells me all of the details about my speaking schedule (date/time, title of talk, organization, stipend, location, and more). It also contains color coded calendars for each of my kids and for hubby’s business. Visually, I can instantly see the big picture of our family. Having a calendar is one of my soothing strategies. (It does not work for everyone in my family, though.)
Besides a calendar, dry erase boards are messenger tools in our house. I write notes to myself and my kids about what needs to happen. It can be color coded by person and/or event. There is great satisfaction in erasing the board throughout the week. The weekend is often time for celebration.
As I look at my calendar for the rest of September, the priority is apparent. Family. Historically, I have “tried” to be mom while also “trying” to do all of the other tasks of running my business. I am learning that everything ends up sub-par. So I’m shifting priorities and letting the business wish list rest on the shelf. If this is my last post for September, I’m ok with that. Why? Kids don’t stay kids for long.
My to-do list for the next week is to seamlessly work out the homeschooling new-year kinks, prep food and pack for two weekends of statewide horse competitions. As I reflect on my priorities, the answer is brief: the KISS principle. Keep It Simple, Sweetie!
My goal is to be joyfully present.