For the last couple of weeks I’ve had to stand down as (self-appointed) second-in-command at TinyOffice due to stress. We’ve had a massive project on and I tend to get caught up in the minor details, details that have nothing to do with me, but things I feel concerned about. I express these concerns with Matt, adding to his already ginormous list of concerns, thus making his job harder and upsetting myself in the process.

Rather than repeating the same behaviour that gets me (and Matt) all worked up I decided to change my objective. My ultimate goal (in TinyOffice) has always been to support Matt and help the business grow. Despite my best intentions, reminding Matt what he needs to do is not actually helpful, so I needed to step back and really look at what I’m good at and how my skill set can best be utilised to achieve my goal to ‘support Matt and help the business grow’.

This sort of self reflection can be challenging. No one really wants to admit that they could be doing something better or differently, especially if they have been doing it for years. The first and hardest thing I did was remove myself from the factory floor - mentally and literally. We now have three staff who are on the floor building TinyOffices. I don’t need to be out there. I don’t need to know everything that is going on.

Removing myself from the manufacturing process means that I can focus on my graphic design work 100%. I’m still volunteering at TinyOffice as we build our team so it's incredibly important that I keep working and making money to pay the rent. Letting go of not having to know everything has freed up so much energy that I can now redirect to my own work, oh, and to looking after the kids.

The kids are so often sidelined during these busy periods. This is a particularly hard pill to swallow. No one wants to think they’re being a shitty parent. I mean we all know we're a bit shit, but the resentment that I feel about the minuscule length of the school day is shameful. I don’t want to resent spending time with the kids! When life gets busy and stressful, the scent of resentment starts to waft in and things can get pretty thorny. 

This time, instead of letting the resentment take over, I changed my objective. I made a conscious decision that I was going to look after the kids full time while Matt got this project out. This simple switch in mindset means that I saw picking up the kids from school as a positive experience and not a burden. Instead of rushing in to get back to work, I’ve been enjoying letting the kids play for a bit longer on the playground while I catch up with other parents. I couldn’t do this while I was stressing about building windows.

I’ve enjoyed hanging out with the kids this week, even though they’ve been acting up because Matts not there. We’ve gotten into a routine, which success relies entirely on alternating the audiobook chapters of ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘The Last Kids on Earth’. Not surprisingly, the kids miss Matt big time, however being able to give them more focused attention, having changed my objective, has had this week flowing far smoother than I expected.

In fact the last few weeks have been quite good. I say this with caution as I don’t know if I truly believe it myself yet - a hangover from letting go I guess. I told Matt about my new position a few weeks ago and I wanted to be crystal clear to him, and myself that I was changing my behaviour. It wasn’t that I didn’t care about what he was doing, it was that my time was best spent managing the family and focusing on my paying clients, leaving him space to focus on his work.

Creating these boundaries around myself and Matt is quite new. There will be many of you reading this who will be thinking, ‘Jess, you're just doing the kids pick up and drop offs like the rest of us! Why do you need to write a 900 word blog about it?’ The reason is because it's given me a renewed sense of gratitude for our ever changing family dynamics. 

Running a family can feel like a pretty thankless job most of the time. Especially when you're doing it semi-solo. A friend rang the other day to check in on how we were going. After I finished decompressing from all of life's stresses, she said I was doing an amazing job. Much like us, their family has problems balancing caregiving, careers and personal goals. Hearing someone say that what I was doing was important was exactly what I needed to hear. 

What you're doing is important as well. 

Well done for doing what you had to do to get through the day. Picking up the slack when others need help or accepting support when times are tough. Everyone is running the same race at the end of the day. Choosing to run for myself and the kids, while Matt’s running for work will keep us all moving forward.

Video of the week
Why Smart People Think They're Stupid [The Dunning-Kruger Effect]
Podcast of the week
The Cryptid Factor: The Interrupted Issue (Part 2)
Font of the week
Radieuse: Font of the week by Simon Renoud-Grappin

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