It’s the plight of every mom. It’s impossible to accomplish any simple task without (oh, wait…here’s Peter asking for cartoons… hold on… ok, where was I?) getting halted a million times during the process. I’m convinced that all of the responsibilities I have would take me a fraction of the time if I wasn’t constantly interrupted (like this blog post). But that’s life.
The trick is learning to prioritize your tasks and stay focused enough to see it through to completion.
Get your priorities straight. Take a look at your tasks and responsibilities and create a mental list. (Hold on, here’s Peter again…. asking me about the time… ok, he’s gone...) Your list of responsibilities may look something like this:
(Ok, what Peter??? Oh, it’s snowing outside. I have to come check it out. Seriously…)
Now, look at your responsibilities and prioritize them based on your goals. If you’re like me, they all look (Oh man, Peter, really?? Ok, he’s on his tablet now. That should help for a bit...) important and non-negotiable. You can’t drop anything from your list. So then what do you do?
Slice and dice and push things to the top. Usually, meal planning and workouts get left at the bottom of the priority list. They get whatever time is leftover (which is not much, when we’re living a life full of interruptions!) But, what if we gave household duties and miscellaneous responsibilities the leftover time, instead?
If you have serious goals about getting stronger, losing body fat, toning up, and transforming your body, cleaning the bathroom may have to take a back seat for a while. You MUST push your workouts and the time spent organizing and shopping for your meals up the priority list. There’s no two ways about it.
My own priorities. If you’ve ever been to my house, you’ll know that it’s far from spotless. In a perfect world, I would have much more time in the day (and far fewer interruptions) so I can do all the things on my mental list, including keep the house clean. But for me, working out, taking the time to eat healthy meals, and getting my professional work done are much higher priorities. (Hold on… getting a call from a client…. Ok, I’m back. Where was I?) If the house gets cleaned, that’s a bonus.
If you feel like you fight for time to get your workouts and good nutrition accomplished, you may need to stop and re-prioritize your tasks. Push them higher up your list and learn to be ok if other things don’t get completed.
Dealing with interruptions. Now, how do you stay focused enough to get your priorities done, especially your workouts?
Let’s see if you can relate to this. The other day, one of the Strong Mommas Members posed this questions for our Live Q&A: “Do you have any suggestions for interrupted workouts? For instance, if I get through 2/3 of a circuit and my baby wakes up to nurse, or I have to break up a particularly tricky sibling conflict, and it's been 15 minutes... Do I just jump in where I left off? Start over? Do the warm up again?”
(Hold up, Peter’s screaming…. His tablet died, apparently. Total tragedy.)
It’s hard enough to (wait, he’s back…. Just a sec… Ok, “needed” a snack…) prioritize and get the workout to happen. But it’s even more frustrating when you’re interrupted 1,500 times during your workout!
Here are my tips:
1. First of all, make every effort to do your workouts when you will be the least interrupted. I finally gave up a couple years ago and sucked it up to wake up at 5:30 am to get my workouts done. That is literally the only time of day that I can guarantee zero interruptions. Otherwise, plan to do it during nap times or mid-morning when little kiddos are the least exhausted and tend to play more happily. Your very last resort should be late in the evening when they go to bed. Remember, you’ll be just as tired as they are and a workout will be the last thing you’ll want to do.
2. When you are interrupted, take a quick peak at the time. Your body will stay warm and activated for up to 15 minutes. So, if you’re halfway through a circuit, but you need to stop for 5 minutes and break up a fight, just come back and pick up right where you left off. If you only get halfway through an exercise (it called for 8 reps, but you only did 5), redo that exercise and move on.
3. What if the interruption is longer than 15 minutes? You will need to warm back up. You have a couple options here: you can repeat the full dynamic warm-up or go through the circuit of exercises that you’re working on with zero weight and slower movement. This will get your muscles firing again appropriately, and then you can pick up where you left off before the interruption.
(Garbage truck’s here!! Gotta go put out the cans… hang on… shoot missed it!)
4. What if you have to bag your workout all together? Sometimes this happens. You get started on your workout, and the poop totally hits the fan. (Perhaps quite literally. Maybe the baby suddenly needs a bath. Or you got called on the loud speaker from the childcare at the gym. Ugh.) Just close up shop for the time being and redo the workout from start to finish at another time.
Still worth doing. The most important thing to remember is that even totally interrupted and imperfect efforts are still valuable. We convince ourselves that unless it’s completed perfectly in an ideal fashion, it’s not worth doing. (Peter’s back… it’s still snooowing and I have to come see again. And he “needs” another snack.)
As a mom, interrupted and imperfect might be all you’ve got right now! You certainly can’t wait until the situation is ideal, because that time may never come.
Just like this blog post. How many times was I interrupted? It felt like a million times, and in fact it became quite comical as I decided to record every incidence. (Wait, phone call. Calvin’s school is releasing two hours early today. Awesome. Ok, where was I?) But as you can see, the result was hopefully still valuable. I saw it through to completion and got it done, albeit with plenty of jarring halts.
It’s just the nature of mom life, friend. Don’t wait for perfect opportunities. Instead, take some time to re-prioritize to make sure you’re working toward your goals. And then use the tips to know how to handle the workout interruptions when they arise.
(Yes, every interruption I recorded was 100% real and typical, and I'm sure you can totally relate!)
If we can simplify our tasks as much as possible, we will have more time to handle the interruptions as they arise.
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Megan P. Dahlman
Hi friend! I'm a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist, Precision Nutrition Certified Coach, Wife to Scott, and Mom to two crazy boys, Calvin & Peter. I train hard, eat well, rest just enough to keep going, and do my best to maintain a heavenly perspective. I'd love to coach you to do the same. Cheers!
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