“Blessed are the flexible, for they will not be bent out of shape.” I chuckled at this proverb that felt fitting for my role as a busy mom of tiny humans in this season of life: Always bending, responding, and flexing to save the day!
For someone who likes to get things done (and might even be a little more “type-A” than I care to admit), exercising flexibility often feels like I’m sacrificing my productivity. Sure, being open to whatever happens sounds great on paper, until that paper still holds the list of tasks undone because I opted to live “in the moment” instead of hustling to finish something.
Maybe you can relate…
Flexibility is much easier than it sounds and harder than you think. It requires a release of expectations, a willingness to be in the moment, and an acknowledgement that you cannot (and should not) control everything.
As the last few weeks of summer melt into fall and the hustle continues, let’s take this month to consider how to approach living with more flexibility, starting with how we relate to what happens…and what doesn’t.
Being the Flexible Parent
In parenting, this manifests as being the “flexible parent” rather than the “frustrated parent” when things don’t happen the way we planned or desire (which, in reality, is almost every time when raising littles!).
Your toddler doesn’t nap.
Your kindergartner refuses to eat his healthy lunch.
Your sister forgets that she’s babysitting.
Your laundry (still) does not fold itself (okay, well maybe that’s just wishful thinking!)
Whatever occurs (or doesn’t), we are always at choice.
We can react and get frustrated at the situation or we can intentionally respond and choose a perspective that aligns with who we want to be, even if we can’t do what we hoped.
Let’s put these scenarios to the test:
Your toddler doesn’t nap. Choose the opportunity to read more books together or play a game.
Your kindergartner refuses to eat his healthy lunch. Take a trip to the grocery store together to pick out healthy food he will enjoy eating because he chose it.
Your sister forgets that she’s babysitting. Call her and make sure she’s okay. Then reschedule!
While these flexible responses do not change the immediate circumstances, they DO change how you show up and set an example for your family and surrounding community. Going through life disappointed and frustrated when things don’t work out doesn’t have to be your default. Do what you can to get the results you want, then leave room to be surprised by the outcome.
Flexible Parenting looks like:
Balancing your household tasks list with the desire to be in the moment with your kids
Providing options for toys they can play with and then letting them get creative
Exposing your children to new places, communities, and ideas and observing how they respond
Going on a family walk with no set destination in mind and noticing what’s all around
Staying curious about the things that excite your children and asking them questions
Allowing you child to choose between two dinner options, not whether they eat dinner
Viewing interruptions as invitations to reconnect and teach your child
Giving yourself space and time to do things for YOU, while your children do things they enjoy, too
Plan the Event, Not the Outcome
When I was a freshman at UCLA serving on our residence hall leadership board, one of my advisors shared something invaluable: “You can plan the event, but you can never plan the outcome.” Her wise words still echo in my head whenever I catch myself trying to control situations or cling too tightly to my expectations for how something (or someone!) should be.
As long as you’re attached the outcome, you remain a victim to circumstance. You give your power away to the unknown of the future, instead of reveling in what can be experienced in the present and the wisdom and lessons from the past.
What would it look like to plan the event, not the outcome?
How often do you base your success on a certain outcome instead of the effort you put forth? Consider how this makes you feel about your work.
What environments or relationships do you find yourself trying to control through your expectations? Take a moment to realign with your values and release your desire to have things happen in a certain way.
Instead of being a victim of circumstance, how do you want to choose to live? Name one thing you’re willing to change now.
Interruptions Are Invitations
As a parent, entrepreneur, and business owner, I feel like I’m constantly juggling #AllTheThings and must keep all the balls in the air. So when I choose to stop and be present, the balls suddenly drop, and then I have to pick them up and start tossing all over again.
But what if, instead of dropping, the balls simply FROZE in mid-air? So caught in the moment, without leaving anything more to do?
Imagine what would happen if we chose to view the many daily interruptions as invitations to reconnect with the present, allowing us to hit “PAUSE” to reconnect, rather than disconnect.
That is how I’m learning to embrace more flexibility, while still valuing productivity.