I just found this post I forgot I wrote. Ha! This is based on the Myers-Briggs personality typing system.
Do you have a kid who waits until the last minute to do something? It’s almost midnight, you have to leave for a family trip at 6:00am, and their suitcase lays open on their bedroom floor still empty?
If so, chances are your child is a Perceiver and they are not waiting until the last minute because they are lazy… because they are trying to drive you nuts… or because they don’t care.
They wait until the last minute because that’s when they make inspired decisions.
Perceivers see the world as possibility. They find stimulation in open-ended situations. Going on a trip? Let’s not over-plan. How will could we possibly know everything to make a decision until we get there, anyway? Once we arrive, the massive amounts of real-time data flooding over us will make decisions clear. What fun!
Judgers, on the other hand, prefer the opposite. Those with the Judging function like to close doors in advance, creating a clear hallway to walk. Ahhh, that feels good. So they often plan out their trips in advance, identifying potential problems and solving them ahead of time. And their suitcase? It was packed last week.
So what should you know about raising a Perceiver Child?
Their last-minute tendencies do not mean you have failed them as a parent. They also do not mean they will be unsuccessful in life.
Perceivers who embrace their last-minute function learn to work WITH it. They clear their calendar the day before a trip for that last-minute burst of energy. They relax the week before a trip and look forward to it, instead of spending the time feeling horrible about themselves and stressed out that they haven’t packed yet.
And they thrive with parents who understand and embrace their natural way of working too.
You can thrive too.
Whether you are a Perceiver or Judger yourself, communicating and setting boundaries ahead of time will give you the peace of mind you need to either pack last-minute yourself or get some much-needed sleep.
After all, just because they like to work last-minute doesn’t mean you have to be put out.
If they are old enough, talk to them about YOUR boundaries. When are you going to bed? When is the laundry room closed for the night? What do they need so they don’t have to wake you up asking you questions? And how will you both work together to get them up in the morning–nicely–regardless of how much sleep they did or did not get?
It’s amazing the teamwork that happens when we feel like there is nothing wrong with us.
And for a Perceiver packing last-minute, writing their paper last-minute, or giving you their Christmas list the night it is due there IS nothing wrong with them; they are just working with their natural gifts.
And that’s always something a parent can celebrate.
I’m walking with my three year old son and the puppy this morning, thinking about what I had gotten done that day in between “hold my hand crossing the street” and “don’t eat that”. It was 9:00am and I’d been up for 4 hours already. I think I put a load of laundry in the washer.
It might not be in the dryer,
I’ll have to check.
In the past I used to say “I didn’t get anything done all day”. In the past I would have chastised myself about, well, everything. But after three kids and a boat load of positive thinking training I know better.
Now I think:
What was I doing all day? Ask the babysitter. (And then I grin at my little joke because that would be me.)
Now of course I’m not the babysitter, I’m the mom.
But bear with me for a moment while I make an analogy. I think that’s right word for it. I’m at the library with all the kids and there is some crazy loud stuff going on here. We are in the kid section so it’s OK. Plus, it’s not my kid that’s making the noise this time.
So.... where was I?
When you hire a babysitter do you expect them to organize your closet, style their hair, address holiday cards, or fix a three course meal while they are at it?
NO. OF COURSE YOU DON’T.
You come back from your time away and you pay them, slyly eyballing them to see if they are still OK. “Hope it went well,” you might add with an air of sympathy.
Because you know that babysitting a wee one, a kid, a baby, a toddler, is a big job.
Wait, not just big.
IT’S FULL TIME.
So why did I fully expect to accomplish everything I used to do before kids once I had kids?
I have no idea.
Unless it was by watching The Brady Bunch AND FORGETTING THAT ALICE WAS FULL-TIME HIRED HELP.
Or because most of my childhood memories are from when I’m older and my parents DID have more time to get things done because I wasn’t dragging the chair over to get myself some water so I could make a puddle on the kitchen floor to dance in.
Think about that.
I’m just grateful I don’t do it anymore. (Not the chair dragging, the self-criticism.)
Because now I can take that walk and no matter what is left undone at home I smile knowing I’ve got a happy, healthy three year old boy scooting his blue rubber boots through the fallen leaves while his new best friend puppy wags his tail beside him.
I’m doing my job.
In fact, I’m doing a great job.
And, come to find out, the laundry WAS in the dryer, how about that?
So I'm over here all struttin' my stuff. Check me out, I've got the laundry caught up, and I can find the kitchen counter, and I know what I'm eating for dinner this week... I'm totally kickin' it. Uh-huh. Uh-huh.
What is my new program? I ask myself. What is the miracle I discovered that transformed me?
Nothing is new except one thing: My baby got older.
Suddenly, I find myself feeling more in control of my life and more aware of my surroundings. I am remembering friend's birthdays again and I'm often showered. I've got a more robust sense of humor. I'm smiling and saying hi to strangers across the street just because the sky is blue.
I'm Mary Poppins, Y'all.
Since my three kids are spaced four and six years apart this is the third time this has happened to me. One day I look up and think: Hello World, you're awesome. Where ya been?
And it is a wonderful feeling to look up.
To look up, look around, and not worry someone is going to dash into the street, dump a cup of water on the floor, or randomly eat something off the ground. The delicious feeling I had when I did dishes yesterday and there was silence. Not the dreaded silence because someone has found my purse or figured out how to climb on the counters but the calm silence because they are playing–even with the puppy–so harmoniously....
...I can't even describe the feeling but it's like a rainbow mixed with a truly funny meme.
I remember asking a dear friend of mine who had kids well before me how she did it. Her kids were closer in age than mine and her answer was immediate:
"I lived in filth for three years."
She said it so matter-of-fact it stunned me.
It was her calm in that moment that has helped me all of these years. She made it. So can I.
Maybe there are parents out there who can keep everything together in their own zen just like it was before their baby came into their lives. (WHO ARE THEY? WHO?!) But for me it's just a real-life blend of "aaaaahhhh" and "awwwww" and "whhhaaaat?" and "oooops" and "sweeeeeeet" during the baby and toddler years because it's so awesome and so hard sometimes and so loving and so frustrating sometimes until one day, before you realize it, that stage is over and you have clean socks.
Two of them. Paired up. They actually match.
Once again, dear friends, I have arrived and let me tell you–it was a messy ride but it was totally worth it.
"You're so... happy!"
Yes. Yes I am. That's because I clocked in to the sleep zone around 9:00pm last night. 7:30pm the night before.
Once again I am reminded of the balancing power of sleep.
You think I would have learned this by now. I have three kids, four and six years apart. Enough time to free-fall into the sleep-deprived baby and toddler years and then come back out, battle-worn and sweatpant weary, into blissful sleep at night once more, only to do it all over again.
This time, however, my baby has hair. Lots and lots of hair:
I wuv him!
The first month was, well, brutal. Loving and fun and amazing and cuddly and... brutal. We didn't know how this puppy-thing worked. He didn't know how we worked. All we both knew was that there was a lot of potty happening and not a lot of sleep happening. Sometimes in the yard. Many times in the house.
I weathered it well at first. I was invincible! Fueled by love and determination!
It took weeks before I looked in the mirror and realized I was un-showered, in the same clothes I'd been wearing since.... um.... I don't remember... an old pair of glasses sliding off my nose instead of wearing my contacts. I had to step over piles of laundry to get to the kitchen.
The pre-schooler was always doing things wrong. The dog was too jumpy. People weren't helping enough.
Diner was an afterthought. I didn't have time to play. I don't know what day it was.
And it was getting worse.
Luckily, we got a cold.
I could blame the play-place I took the kids to but I know better. Getting a cold means you are overwhelmed. So I shut it down, went to bed early for two nights and now...
The pre-schooler is doing everything well. The dog is awesome. People are so supportive.
Dinner is planned. I played all morning. It's Tuesday.
And yet nothing changed except me getting some much needed zzzzz's.
So mom and dads, before you wonder what's wrong with you, what's wrong with your kids, what's wrong with your life, what's wrong with your very existence, check to see if there is anything wrong with your sleep. If you can get some extra hours in the sack, do it. If you can't, put a sticker on your mouth while you ride it out. It will get better, I promise.
I have another baby so that means it's time to get cracking on organizing my life differently. By "differently" I mean "don't get all cranky because you can't get anything done".
Important Note: Don't let the word "baby" stop you parents of kids, tweens, or teens from reading this post. This To Do List Strategy works for parents with kids of all ages. I just happen to have a baby right now, OK?
Now where was I? Oh yes.
Take my To Do list.
(No, really, take it. Ba-dum-CHISH!)
In the past, it was great to have a running To Do List. It was all I needed. Skim the list, pick something to do, do it, check it off. It was so simple.
But then I had a baby.
Suddenly that To Do list was a huge, looming pile of "Can't Get Done's" - a shadow of shame and frustration hanging over me, weighing me down. Nursing, changing diapers, rocking, holding a baby.... all great times when my body was busy while my mind was free to watch the clock tick, the dishes pile up, the emails to go unanswered, my hair to grow split ends, the thank you cards to be unthanked...
I felt like I couldn't get anything done. I got frustrated when I was interrupted - again. It was stressful.
So I started playing with how to organize my time. First I tried creating a smaller, daily To Do list from my main one. That seemed like a great idea. I could just pick the top three to five things I would, (really, truly, would) do that day that were critical.
Except it didn't work.
Now I had a smaller, but even more pressing To Do list looming over my head throughout the day as I changed diapers, rocked, held, soothed... and I felt even more stressed out because it was a shorter list and I wasn't even able to get thatdone right away.
After years of research and trial and error I have found the To Do list system that works for me - particularly when I have a baby or a toddler. You know, one of those constant-interuptus little people who, bless their hearts, might not take a 2 hour nap that day when you need it.
My system is all about flow.
It's main design is not necessarily to get things done, but to keep me from feeling stressed out. Which, ironically, means I end up getting more things done. (Tricky, but true.)
Instead of assuming I have complete control over time, my To Do list works in a world where I don't have to. (You mean I don't have to control time? No! Yay!)
I will still pick the top three to five things that I really want or need to get done that day and put them down on paper, but instead of just making a list, I categorize them into time opportunities. Or, because I still have a daily paper organizer (in addition to my online calendar) I will pencil in the To Do near the part of the day in which they can - or are most likely to - get done.
What can I do while the baby is awake?
- Folding laundry. (He loves to play with the socks on the bed.)
- Light cooking. (He loves to be held and I am a one-handed wonder at the stove.)
What requires babysitting so I can leave the house?
What requires the baby to be home with me but occupied or asleep and I am OK to be interrupted?
- Digging out the garage
- Taking a shower
What requires the baby to be occupied or asleep at home with someone who can tend the baby if he wakes or needs something so I am uninterrupted?
- Email to a client
With this new framework I feel more flexible and generous about getting my own needs met.
I can actually do that while the baby is in the carrier and I'm standing outside.
Writing a blog post?
This good for my soul and my creativity but I don't need to write every day. How often? Weekly would be great. If I am feeling well rested and inspired, I am totally happy to write in the morning - and get interrupted to change a diaper like just now - but only when the older kids are in bed and it's just the baby and me. Right now at 5 months old he's still very quiet. ;)
Knowing this means I can look forward to one morning when it lines up. Because it does. I don't have to push it.
With this type of To Do list I can:
Once I stop fighting reality or stressing out, it all flows.
That feels fantastic.
And, incidentally, so does getting stuff done. :)
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Love, Love, Alora
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