Do It Now! How Procrastination Impacts Our Mothering
“Wow, Mom, you’re actually doing something when you said you were going to do it!”
My daughter was joking, but the words still stung.
It’s true. I am a chronic procrastinator. It is the ugly fruit of my other vice — perfectionism. It also stems from chronically OVER estimating how much I can do in any given period. I commit to doing too much and then inevitably can’t get it all done.
I’ve been doing this for years. If I had a dime for every time I told one of my kids when they were little, “In a minute …” “We’ll do that later…”
I cringe when I think about it. Through some painful realities, I am learning to push past my need for “perfect” and to embrace quick follow-through — even when it’s uncomfortable. Procrastinating has robbed me of so much joy over the years!
Here’s the thing about procrastination: It compromises our integrity when we continually say we’re going to do things — and we don’t. Our word becomes meaningless. Our intentions don’t matter to our children. Intentions aren’t the same as action. Our kids — and others — watch what we do, not what we say.
I can tell you from painful experience, that our credibility and our kids’ respect is absolutely vital going into the often difficult preteen and teen years. Without it, we are in for a very rough ride. (It may be bumpy anyway, but it helps!)
Procrastination convinces us that there will always be time later. Who says? I certainly don’t have a crystal ball. Proverbs 3:27 says, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.”
A few other things I wish I had known about procrastination:
That opportunities with our children are fleeting.
Sure, everyone always tells you, “The time goes so fast” from the time our little ones are born.
But what I didn’t fully realize is that there are specific stages in our kids’ lives where they are particularly open to our guidance and involvement (hint: the preteen and teen years are generally not one of these stages!). The issues and the timing of these “opportunity windows” is different for each child. Thinking I always had time to do or address things later led to me missing key opportunities to have an impact in important areas.
That “Do it Now” relieves so much stress.
That thing we dread. The one that keeps us up at night. The one we think we’ll have so much more energy and/or wisdom to tackle later? It drains our very soul. Doing it now — even if it’s done incredibly imperfectly — relieves us of the burden of unnecessary stress. Of course, in certain situations, God may be telling us to wait to act. I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about those things you know you should do, but you just don’t want to.
Let’s do ourselves a favor and do it now!
My kids would follow my lead.
This one breaks my heart. I feel grief at the thought that I’ve modeled procrastination for my kids. I unknowingly passed down the same patterns of procrastination that plague me: put off what I don’t want to do, panic, exhaust myself doing it at the last minute and then live with the knowledge that it wasn’t done as well as it could have been if I had just “done it now!”
I will always live with some regret. I can’t change the past. But I can do something about the present. I’ve been asking God to help me seize opportunities today, instead of pushing them off to tomorrow and risking they’ll disappear. It’s not too late to show my kids a different way of living, to let go of my anxiety. I may have missed some windows of opportunity, but I can seize the ones I see now.
Today is all any of us have. So let’s “Do it Now!”