Productivity and Parenting - How not to lose it in the holidays
Just a few days ago I was having the most productive period of the last few years. Waking up driven, being in a state of flow all day and then lying awake in bed, wired by the endless ideas and possibilities that such a creative spurt provides.
This morning I woke up with nothing. The drive was replaced with a desire to do…nothing.
Helpfully, I know what’s caused this despondency; I’m a freelancer, it’s the holidays, and I have children. More important than understanding this, is recognising the effect it can have on me at an emotional level. I’ve written a fair bit about the challenges of parenting and freelancing so I won’t go into that here, only to say that, in the holidays, maintaining equality on both work and parenting is like trying to eat healthily at Cosmo*. I may start with the best of intentions and a bit of sushi and salad, but thirty minutes in I’m plating up as much Indian and Chinese as I can, in a race to beat the message from my stomach to my brain telling it, for the love of god, stop.
As a recovering perfectionist, parenting, freelancing and, of course, eating, can trigger intense feelings of shame, and experience tells me that I’m not alone. To be a brilliant Dad, maintain productivity, earn enough to support my family and be healthy are goals that I’m sure many of us have. However, if we continuously try to achieve them to an unrealistic degree, our inevitable lapses can result in our questioning of our worth, value and character. Shame can be crippling and is often way more detrimental to our health than the behaviour that triggered it.
The key is for us to be aware of our current situation and work with what we’ve got. Sometimes things will drop off, but the most damaging thing we can do is feel shame about not doing something as well as we could if the circumstances were different - because they’re not. So know where you are, do your best, and don’t beat yourself up.