As an Army master sergeant, a safety manager, a radiation safety officer and fellow Nevadan, I would like to think that I have “my stuff” together. Spending 16 years in the military makes you a planner, a leader, and a subject matter expert in contingency planning and logistically living life to the fullest. When it comes to vacationing, I can probably plan it by the hour, know the hours of when and where to go, and figure out the best places to eat. Ask my family, they were subjected to two weeks of a Microsoft Publisher document scheduler printed out on business cards for everyone to keep track each day.
All of this is to say: I THRIVE on planning.
Well that all sounds fine and well when there are no kids in the picture. Now, as a mother to an 8-month-old, the idea of planning seems like a pipedream; or is it? A lot of well-intentioned family, friends and co-workers, always the first to tell me how it’s done, have said, “Well, once you have a kid, all planning goes right out the window!” Another one I’ve heard way, “You don’t know what it’s going to be like with kids…”. You’re right. You are right to tell me that before I had a kid, I had no idea that kids turn the world upside down and add so much stress that it physically adds a weight on your shoulders that you struggle to carry.
It doesn’t always have to be that way. Living the life right now, with a baby and two jobs, I still love planning. In fact, I would like to share that it is still possible to plan events, to show up on time and to avoid becoming a “soup sandwich.” Also, you do not have to be a genius to be a planner. Here are my lessons learned as a new mom and a planner:
- It takes time and practice to perfect. Just like Walt Disney once said, “If you dream it, you can achieve it.” Anything you want to achieve takes time and dedicated effort before you can meet a goal. And it doesn’t happen overnight. Think about your day, and then think about what you want to accomplish.
- What matters to you? What absolutely needs to get done? What are the different ways of getting the “must do’s” done as soon as possible? If one item or event matters more to you than other stuff, spend your time on that important priority.
- Knock out the hard stuff first. Leave the easy stuff last. Plus, you are more likely to get more done on your “list” than what you originally had planned (High five!).
- Backwards plan. This is one of those techniques they teach in the military. Think of what your “mission accomplishment” is. For example, if I need to be at the store before it closes at 6 p.m. with kids in tow, I will first start the plan with the end goal first, which is to be at the store at 5:30pm, and the next step is making sure I have the kids ready to go, diaper bag, stroller, and grocery list by 5 p.m. I will feed the kids their snacks and get them dressed at 4:15 p.m., and so forth, until you plan from the beginning. Nifty huh?
- Ask for help. Do you have a spouse, a significant other, a sister/brother, or an older child that can assist? Do it! Take advantage of the help if it’s there. No one says you have to do this alone.
With these six quick tips at your disposal, I hope you can visualize how planning can still work for you. Now, don’t forget to add some necessary “downtime” into the plan for you — even if that just means a hot shower.
About Rachel Cabanting
Rachel Cabanting has lived in Reno for more than 26 years. She also lived in Massachusetts, where she attended funeral school to become a mortician. Additionally, she spent a year in Kuwait and 8 months in Iraq. Rachel worked as a mortician before beginning a career in safety. She has now worked in safety for more than a decade and is currently a full time Environmental Health and Safety Manager. She also has spent 16 years in the Army National Guard and still serves as master sergeant. When she is not working, she spends her time with her husband and 8-month-old son, watching Disney movies, listening to Disney music, or planning an upcoming Disney vacation. Rachel also enjoys cooking, traveling, eating sushi, long hot bubble baths, Double-stuffed Oreos, finding fun opportunities for her family around town, and hanging out with friends.