Focus On What You Can Control

June 17, 2020

By Meghan Greenwood

Listen to this blog:

While control often gets a bad wrap, sometimes it’s all that we have. Kids thrive on being in control. They feel independent, productive, and meaningful. Parents almost always have to take a step back at some point and let kids take the reigns. It’s hard when you want the best for someone (and don’t want to see them choose poorly), and even harder if you are a control freak.

As adults, the same tendencies apply. While some of us are certainly more controlling than others, a bit of control is necessary for us to function. We want life to be smooth. And ideally, we have at least some control over our jobs, homes, and well-being. But what if the day throws us curveballs? How do we handle ourselves when things aren’t in our control?

Rewind to the beginning of the pandemic. I recall seeing the email pop into my inbox that basically let me know daycare would be closed indefinitely. Instant panic set in. Are we susceptible to the disease? Has it spread to our area? How will I be able to manage the kids and my full-time job? Will I still have a job? What would my everyday now look like?

While we were luckily not directly affected by the disease, our lives were certainly turned upside-down. I spent the first week remaining in control by thinking of the positives: less chance of exposure if we stay home, more time for hospitals to prepare, no calendars to keep, time to work in the yard, time to organize the closets, saving money on gas and extracurriculars, etc.

Fast-forward 2 months, and I found it harder and harder to stay in control. Work was piling up, the kids were becoming harder to appease, the house was in disarray, and my self-care routine had disappeared. I was sleep-deprived and feeling less and less excited to exercise.

There were several days I was on the edge. I either wanted to hide under blankets or scream from the rooftop. Talking to friends & family certainly helped, but their kind words weren’t enough. I missed our schedule, I missed our outlets, I missed having time for myself. I resorted to junk food.

Fast-forward another month. We have now entered a green phase and daycare has reopened. I’m slowly getting my head above water with work, but it will take a long time to re-organize the house and shift back into a consistent self-care routine.

And that’s ok.

If there’s one important takeaway from this experience (besides the obvious need to pump more money into R & D to prevent future outbreaks), it would be to stop using my energy to focus on things I can’t control. As a parent and worker, the energy I do have is precious. I should have set a pandemic schedule from day 1, I should have penciled in daily outdoor & rest time for me and the kids, I should have delegated more of my small work tasks, I should have cut myself more slack for letting the kids sit in front of the TV and eat snacks for hours, I should have gotten into a better diet & exercise regimen, and I should have reached out more to friends & family.

I am certainly type A, but I hope this experience has softened my expectations or at least, given me a new perspective on how control affects me. Awareness is always key.

Now when my kids are home sick from school or the client fails to send me a critical email until the 11th hour, hopefully I can brush it off and realize, this too shall pass.

How do you handle things that are out of your control?


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