parenthood

How I Stopped Procrastinating and Started Meeting my Goals

Photo by Brad Neathery on Unsplash

Photo by Brad Neathery on Unsplash

Procrastination at our house 

Over spring break I went on vacation with my family. When I go on vacation, I like to bring books. A lot of them! Mostly nonfiction and one good fiction book. I imagine myself relaxing and reading for hours on end...although this rarely happens. 

On this trip, I brought a book called Solving the Procrastination Puzzle by Timothy A. Pychyl. This particular book was not for me, of course, but for my daughter. You see, my daughter procrastinated her homework just about every night this past school year. Although she would eventually get her homework done that night, she would inevitably lose sleep doing it and would wake up the next day feeling exhausted. The whole cycle would drive me crazy! I would work with her on strategies to plan out her evening, making room for a mental break and then setting a time to get to work. 

Nothing helped. 

My book on procrastination was going to change my daughter’s life! What a helpful and dedicated parent I was! As I started reading about all of the things people procrastinate on - eating healthy, saving for retirement, reaching out to a friend, homework, writing a blog…it suddenly hit me...I am a procrastinator! This is not about my daughter at all. This is about me! Ugh! 

Why do I procrastinate?

What is preventing me from getting the things done that I want and need to get done? I often make excuses that it is too hard, I am not in the mood right now, I will feel like doing it later, I need to do other things first like clean my house, do laundry, declutter...I mentally dismiss my need for doing the task by saying it’s not that important, I don’t really need to do that, there is no rush. 

But deep down, I know I am lying to myself. When I think of doing something I don’t want to do I get a feeling of dread and overwhelm and before I know it, my negative self talk starts to take over. Procrastination makes me feel better by giving me short term relief from doing the dreaded task. 

I temporarily feel better! Only to feel worse later.

Is it really that big of a deal to procrastinate? 

What’s the big deal? Everyone procrastinates, right? The problem is that not only do these undone tasks hang over my head, they make me feel bad about myself and get in the way of my ability to live my best life. When I procrastinate, I am not achieving my goals. This takes a hit to my self esteem. I start to wonder  - why am I not living my life according to my goals and values?

Wow! When I really thought about it, I realized that procrastinating has a huge impact on my life and how I view myself. And I thought this was all about my daughter!

How I get motivated 

As a human and a trained therapist, I consider what’s going to help me get motivated. If I want to help my daughter and my clients, I need to figure out what’s going to help me. Here’s what I came up with:

  • Scheduling time. With a little bit of practice and diligence, I try to schedule when I am going to sit down to get started on a project. Whether it’s at a specific date and time or after a planned activity. 

  • Noticing avoidance patterns. I try to be kind with myself in my expectations and pay attention to what I am saying to myself about my ability to get this task done. When I start to go down the very deceptive path of procrastination...I notice my trigger thoughts of I’ll feel more like doing that tomorrow or first I need to walk my dog and use that as a reason to get started...even if it’s just for twenty minutes. 

  • Managing expectations. I take note of the negative emotions that I am associating with the task and remind myself that I don’t need to do the task perfectly, it just needs to be good enough. This gives me a break from unrealistic expectations. Then...I think of how great it will feel to have the task completed and my goals achieved!

For more tips on increasing motivation, here’s an additional article

What about my daughter?

Even though this has not been helpful in the slightest bit to my daughter, maybe the most helpful thing I can do as a parent is to lead by example. No wonder she procrastinates! I’ve taught her well!

Progress not perfection

Don’t get me wrong...I still procrastinate. In fact this blog was supposed to be done a month ago...but I am working on progress, not perfection!

If you struggle with the pressure to get things done and don’t know where to start, trust me, I understand, and I’m here for you. Let’s figure out what works for you. 


People+Bloom+Counseling+Redmond+Kristin+O'Hara+EFCT+Couples+Midlife+Crisis+Transitions.png

Kristin O’Hara is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate at People Bloom Counseling, a Redmond psychotherapy practice. She helps couples find love and connection in their relationship. She also helps people struggling with midlife transitions. She is thankful to have kids who help remind her to be the best version of herself.

Marriage Problems after Baby? 11+1 Tips to Stay Connected to your Partner

Drew Hays/unsplash.com

Drew Hays/unsplash.com

Cover your eyes if you don't want to read this: It's not looking good after kids

Are you having marriage problems now that your baby is born? You're not alone. My husband recently shared with me the CNN article about the steep decline in marital satisfaction following parenthood. I remember reading such research back in grad school, so it was definitely old news. However, it got me thinking whether the decline has to be this drastic.

Ready for your marriage to go down the toilet?

True, parenting is a major life transition, and this complicated by the fact that you don't know who's coming out on the other side and how their temperament might fit with yours, or not. Sleepless nights, little time to yourself, and a disruption to everything you've ever known. Is there still time and energy to connect with your partner?

I want to say yes!

Here are 11+1 tips to stay connected to your partner after baby:

  1. Use humor – if this is your first child, in all likelihood, a lot of things ring true in Brian Gordon's comic about parenthood. Laugh at yourself and with each other. Is it an interesting finding in baby poop that wasn't well digested? Your mismatched socks? Your partner's overgrown beard? Take time to laugh. Don't take yourselves too seriously.
  2. Admire your partner as a co-parent – this will be your first time witnessing your partner as a father/mother. How are they different with the baby? The same? Can you take a moment to watch the two interact from a distance? How does this make you appreciate your partner all the more?
  3. Make use of every moment – is it the first few minutes of your partner walking through the door or when you pass by each other in the hall? Share a touch, a kiss, a something that lets each other know you're still there. These brief moments of connection can go a long way.
  4. Do the little things – aside from sharing a moment in between feedings, what were the little things you used to do for each other, to show that the other mattered? Is it a quick text with Emoticons, picking up his preferred brand of toothpaste, or making coffee in the morning? When you're tired and your patience is thin, knowing that you're remembered keeps you going.
  5. Hire a sitter – take a break, go out, or do nothing. Time away from your kid and chores makes you a better parent, a better partner. If you must use this time to run errands, remember to grab yourself a little treat.
  6. Set up date nights early on – while it can no longer be every Friday, unless you have a plan, months can go by without the comfort and familiarity of time together. Go out for a movie, a nice dinner, a stroll in your neighborhood. While it may seem like you have left someone important at home, taking the time to connect with your partner can make co-parenting more enjoyable.
  7. Focus on each other during date nights – if you're not careful, topics around your kid's music lessons, her playdate with Sally or even how you've organized the baby's drawers can quickly seep into your date night. Set a rule to minimize business talk during your night out. How is the other person doing? What's happening at work? What did you used to talk about before the baby came along? Revisit that.
  8. Take turns baby sitting - “me time” and time with friends are still important, even though you're pooped and your priorities have shifted. Put it on the calendar that the 2nd Tuesday is your coffee night and the 4th Thursday is bball with his buddies. When you encourage personal interests outside of the home as new parents, you're cognizant of each others' needs as individuals. That's another way of giving to each other.
  9. Keep the conversation going – parenting brings out the worse in all of us. Things that work one day no longer works the next because the kid changes on you. Keep talking about expectations around roles, chores, and responsibilities. Be willing to adapt to the needs and preferences of the kid, and each other.
  10. Visit each other at work with the child – you don't have to wait until Bring Your Kids to Work Day. Set an intention that the visit is as much about seeing your kid and showing him around as it is about meeting with your partner midday.
  11. Involve your child – there are ways to be mindful of your partner while you're with your child. You can talk to them early on about mom's favorite food, dad's favorite color, and let the child pick up something at the store for the other parent. That's hopefully sending the message, “I love you and I'm teaching our child ways to love you too.”

And here's a bonus and my all time favorite:

  1. Use terms of endearment – it often pains me to hear partners be called, “mommy” or “daddy” following the birth of a child. What happened to “Babe,” “Honey,” “Wifey” or “Apple Streusel”? Okay, maybe not “Apple Streusel,” but you get the idea. As much as possible, call your partner the names they were once known for. It's a reminder that you were partners before you were parents.

Another bonus: if this is not your first rodeo, here's an earlier post about connecting with your child around bringing home a second baby.

Mitigating the loss

While I won't argue against 30 years of studies that show time and time again a decline in relationship satisfaction following children, I do believe there are ways to soften the blow. Let me know how I can help!


Ada Pang, MS, LMFT is the proud owner of People Bloom Counseling, a Redmond counseling practice in WA. She loves helping individuals and couples grow through life transitions, parenthood being one of them. She's usually overjoyed when her husband brings home the occasional dinner. She's a firm believer that we tend to remember the sweet little things.

Bringing (Another) Baby Home

arekmalang/stock.adobe.com

arekmalang/stock.adobe.com

I was recently asked to comment on how to prepare your child for the arrival of another sib. If it's true that nothing changes the lifestyle of a couple more than the addition of a first baby, then the birth of a sibling must be just as radical for the once-upon-a-time only child. You hear stories of jealousy and parents feeling guilty about not being able to spend as much time with the older child. Know that those moments will naturally happen, and there are also things you can do to make the transition smoother.

  • Keep them in the know: using language that your child would understand, let them know that mommy is prego and the family is expecting another wonderful kiddo!
  • The 9-month period is a process: in the same way you'd go for your ultrasound, go through body changes, and perhaps experience morning sickness, cravings, etc, let your child know that you went through similar and/or different things when pregnant the first time. Talk about your first pregnancy and what that was like.
  • Use other families as examples: talk about uncle Billy or family friend Susie and how there are x number of kids in the home and that makes them siblings.
  • Refer to books: there are a ton of helpful books for children about bringing a baby home. Examples include Babies Don't Eat Pizza, I am a Big Brother, I am a Big Sister, I'm a Big BrotherMy New Baby, and the classic The Berenstain Bears' New Baby
  • Talk about feelings: what is it like for your child to think about having another sibling? Use different mediums to express those feelings, be it drawing, storytelling, acting, etc. Validate all feelings, especially the ones that are hard. Share your own feelings about growing the family.
  • Increase involvement: how would your child like to help decorate the baby's room? What is one or more toy(s) your child would like to put in there? Come feel the baby moving inside mommy's tummy!
  • Anticipate challenges: explain that parents will be busy, sleep deprived and probably crankier, grandma will be over more, and your child won't get as much time with parents, etc. Nonetheless, it doesn't change how much your child is loved.
  • Propose a tentative new routine: bedtime story might be with different adults, 1:1 time to spend with your child might vary depending on the day, etc. Talk about the non-negotiables: your child will still get fed, need to brush their teeth, go to bed...
  • Go over coping skills: in non-urgent situations, and your child wants the attention of pre-occupied adults, what to do instead, for a moment? Color, build Legos, draw, play house...

Enjoy the journey, knowing that the chaos will only be for a while, until you establish a new normal...

Need more support? I love helping people through life transitions! Contact me!