Living the Desperately Optimistic L.I.F.E., Part One

March 22, 2010

For Sunday, March 21, 2010

Some years ago I was asked to provide advice for students with children by a local cable access television station. I’ve looked at what I wrote then and thought about the students with whom I now work and decided that this advice is still apropos. Much of it applies even if you don’t have children.

The title of my presentation, “The Desperately Optimistic L.I.F.E.,” comes from a comment my elementary school-age son made to me while I was earning my bachelor’s degree. I was running down all the things I needed to do on a weekend, including working on Friday night and all-day Saturday, completing a project for a theatre class, writing two papers, and making meals to freeze for the next week, in addition to some cleaning and grocery shopping. He looked at me and said, “Mom, you’re desperately optimistic.” I still am.

The Desperately Optimistic L.I.F.E.
Advice for Students with Children

by W-OZ

Every moment with a child is an opportunity to create memories.
• W-OZ

(Don’t put parenting on hold for anything.)

L stands for Let go: De-stress the household by prioritizing and letting go of as much of the rest as you possibly can. Decide what’s really important and give time to it.

• Studenting creates a strain on any household, and you absolutely must look for ways to alleviate it. The number one concern I’ve heard from other students, and my biggest challenge myself, is time. Letting go is the only way I know of to create additional space in your life.

• While you’re prioritizing and letting go, be sure to frontload as many of your school projects and other work as you can. Count on it: kids—or you—WILL get sick when big papers/projects are due or tests are happening.

• Nothing happens when you don’t dust for a really long time—although one of your children may talk about doing a several-years-in-the-future senior project about dust and begin to call the house his laboratory. Note: Things do happen (ants and other pests) when food is left about. This kind of mess absolutely needs to be dealt with!

• Beds don’t have to be made. Most people like to have them straightened out before they get back in, but even that may be a personal choice. Encourage your family to be creative about chores and other home problems. My oldest son invented “dryer ironing” and taught it my youngest. Put what you want to wear into the dryer with a damp cloth, give it a whirl for about five minutes, pull the clothing item out and smooth it out. Voila! Instantly “ironed.”

• Be merciful to your family and relax the “rules” you have about things like housework. Ask: does this HAV E to be done. If so, negotiate for who will do it, and limit the time that needs to be spent on the task. Neatness camouflages plenty of dust (but again—toss the leftover pizza, French fries, and apple cores).

What’s your best letting go advice? I’ll provide more of mine tomorrow.

Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.
• Henry David Thoreau, Walden


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