When It Feels Like The Sky Is Falling Down

by Christine Organ
time management for parents
RapidEye / iStock

It feels like the sky is falling down.

Maybe that’s because the sky is actually falling down. And by “sky,” I mean the ceiling in our living room.

The ceiling in our living room is falling.

This is, as you might have guessed, not a good thing.

Our sky-is-falling debacle started a little over a week ago when I noticed water pouring into the living room from the bathroom above it—also not a good thing.

Plumbers were called. Temporary repairs were made. Instructions were given. And then, I forgot about it. And by “forgot about it,” I mean I added it to that ever-growing list of things that need to be taken care of sometime. You know the one. It’s the same list that has “clean out basement” and “donate old television” and “get the oil changed” on it. It stayed on that list—the to-do-just-not-do-now list—until the other night when large chunks of the ceiling started falling and then next morning when water was, once again, pouring into our living room.

Now, call me crazy but I prefer that showers stay in the bathroom and that ceilings stay above my head. I prefer that the sky does not actually fall. So plumbers were called, again. Contractors were scheduled, and the shower was officially declared off limits until the situation was under control—until, you know, the shower stayed in the shower and the ceiling stayed in the ceiling.

While I was making these calls and assessing the damage and imagining various worst-case scenarios, it dawned on me: This whole sky-is-falling thing feels a lot like my life right now.

Between the things that I want to do and the things that I need to do and the things that I think I need to do, there never seems like enough time—not enough time in a day, not in a week, not in a lifetime. Each night, I go to bed feeling like I neglected something, like I fell short somehow. Between homework and after-school activities, work projects and volunteer commitments, emails and meetings, grocery shopping and laundry, something always feels undone. Time management seems impossible. What did I forget to do? Who didn’t get the attention that they deserve? What am I neglecting?

Don’t get me wrong, the too-much-ness isn’t all tedium and chores. There are loads and loads of good things too—school concerts, basketball games, family dinners. Good stuff. Really good stuff. But sometimes the good stuff mixes in with the other stuff and it all just feels like too much.

And then, eventually, the sky starts to fall.

Part of this too-much-stuff-but-not-enough-time-ness is the continual adjustment to full schedules, heavy workloads, and heightened expectations. Part of it is simply bad timing, with several work obligations and social commitments all happening at the same time. Part of it is a prickly and painful awareness of just how brutal, beautiful, fleeting and precious life is. And part of it is due to the fact that life with young children is just too much of one thing or another sometimes, all the time.

Life gets too full, too heavy, too saturated sometimes, and we need to tighten things up, seal off the cracks. I know this, and you know this. But this doesn’t make time management any easier. I want to say “yes” to everything. I want to do more and be more and live more. I want to fill up on everything and everyone. I want to fill up my life on, well, life.

But what I am realizing is that each time I say “yes” to one thing, I am inadvertently saying “no” to something or someone else. And when I say “no” to something, I am intentionally saying “yes” to someone or something else. What I am learning is that when I tighten my life up a bit, life actually feels fuller and richer.

So I’m making some hard choices about where and how I spend my time. I’m trying to focus on my children and my husband and the people I love the most. I’m trying to be true to me and my strengths, instead of trying to fit into a parenting mold made for someone else. I’m trying to let go of the expectations and the shoulds. I’m trying to let go of the regrets so that I can pick myself up after the inevitable mistakes. I’m now throwing my hands up in the air now and then, surrendering to the chaos that is parenting.

Maybe if we all throw our hands in the air, hold on to one another and help each other out, we can hold the sky up. So that it doesn’t feel like it’s constantly falling down.