Lowering Expectations

By: LUMO Leaders

- Publish On: January 20, 2022

Hello, fellow humans, and congratulations for making it through another week in the continuing saga of #Omicron2022.

On client calls with working moms this past week, I have found myself in conversations eerily reminiscent of the ones I was having in the fall of 2020. Conversations about the stress of daily unpredictability, ongoing pandemic fatigue, and loss of control. It is a really, really hard time to be a parent right now, and I believe that the only way we’re going to get through this is by giving ourselves – and everyone else – an extraordinary amount of grace.

This is a lesson I learned the hard way. It was October of 2020.  This was when a combination of virtual schooling, startup-launching, and global uncertainty caused my burnout to go up in flames. And yet I wondered what was wrong with me when suddenly the thought of getting dinner on the table was enough to make me scream.

The thing is, I was still trying to do business as usual when business was far from usual. I was still trying to live my life, provide amazing service to my clients, keep my house relatively clean, and cook my family a nice meal. All of those expectations were perfectly reasonable…in 2019, when fear and uncertainty didn’t occupy three quarters of my headspace. In 2019, when I could workout somewhere other than my living room; when I could go out to dinner with friends, or plan a trip to visit family without having to navigate fraught conversations about vaccination status, mask mandates and quarantine guidelines. In 2019, when my brain wasn’t exhausted from always being in two places at once – at work and at “school” constantly wondering if my daughter was paying attention to her Zoom classroom. 

This is when I learned about grace. And for me specifically, it meant lowering my expectations EVERYWHERE.

In real time, that looked like not giving a crap what we ate for dinner. Did we eat food? Yes. Was it healthy and delicious? Who cares, we ate.

It looked like a pile of clean laundry that lived in the middle of the upstairs landing. Want clean clothes? Help yourself. Want folded clothes? Feel free.

It looked like having a conversation with each of my clients, letting them know that my daughter was home and that I didn’t have childcare for her. That there was a chance that she would interrupt us if she really needed me. That I might have to call them back. 

It looked like checking my constant stream of consciousness telling me that this shouldn’t be that hard for me, that so many people had it worse than me, that cutting myself slack meant I was lazy or messy or not committed to doing my best.

It was hard, y’all. Hard to give myself a break. Hard to look at that laundry pile. Hard to eat frozen tater tots (sorry, but yuck.) I had to come face to face with my deepest fears.  I interpreted lowering my standards to mean something about me – that I was lazy, irresponsible, a hot mess. And I’m not.

I’m doing my best. I was then and I am now, just like you. Just like your neighbor and your boss and your kid’s teacher. Just like my clients, my coworkers and my family. We are all, always, doing the best we can with the tools we have. And sometimes, due to insane circumstances far far beyond our control (see: January 2022), our best looks a little different than what we’re used to. 

I hope this gives you permission to let yourself off the hook this week. I hope you extend a deadline, or say no to a commitment you previously made, or order takeout.  I hope you put your feet up amidst the chaos of your living room and close your eyes and breathe. I hope you ask for help, admit you can’t do it all, take the day off. It doesn’t mean anything about you except that you’re a human being who needs rest. 

Yours in leadership and parenting,

Kristin + The LUMO Team

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