Less is More and the Two-Step Rule

If you’ve never taken the Myers-Briggs personality test, I’d recommend it. The actual test is extremely long and I think you have to purchase it, but there are several knock-offs around the internet. I took one last week and found out I am still an INFJ – that’s always been my result – but something I did not know was that INFJ is the most rare of all 16 personality types, being that only 1% of the population tests there.

A few afternoons after taking the test I found myself locked in the bathroom trying to soak away some of the day’s irritations in a bubble bath. Why, I was wondering, did everything seem to aggravate me so much? Why couldn’t I just be happy with my life the way everyone else seemed to be?

I’ll spare you the details of the self-analysis that followed, but what came to me was that, hey, I am a one-percenter! I am a unique individual and I have unique needs. What works for you may not work for me; what makes you feel happy and successful may not make me feel that way; and overall, I need to stop comparing myself to others and just be myself.

Ironically, this post applies to you, too.

Take care of yourselves, mommas. Don’t try to be the mother that your sister is, or that your best friend is, or that your mother-in-law is or wants you to be. God chose you to be the mother of your children because you are the mother they need. Now, be yourself! Find out what works for you and do it.

For me this week, that meant instituting what I like to call the “two-step” rule. I often find myself getting extremely irritated with my four-year-old and feeling completely overwhelmed by the number of things she requires of me every day. I so badly want to be a “yes” parent – not somebody who says “no” out of laziness or fear, but who gives their children every opportunity they can if there is no good reason not to. But adding her “mommy can we” and “mommy can you” requests to my own day’s to-do list ends in an explosion nine times out of ten because I feel under an enormous amount of pressure to get way too many things done.

Enter the “two-step” rule. Each morning I sit down with my to-do list and plan my priorities for the day. But no longer will I spend every waking moment of each day running through that list. I will look no more than “two steps” ahead. I will concentrate on step one: what I am doing now, and step two: what I will do next. Beyond that, I will remain flexible. If I am in the middle of feeding Squirt and planning to start a load of laundry when Noodle makes a request, I have two options: I can replace the laundry with fulfilling Noodle’s request, or I can explain to Noodle that I am about to start a load of laundry but she can ask me again later. I will no longer put a mountain of tasks to climb over between myself and satisfaction. Baby steps.

At the end of the day, this will most likely mean getting a lot less done. But the cleaning will be here tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow; my babies grow further from the nest every day. It is time to be satisfied with less productivity and more peace of mind.