Over the years, I have found that the difference between being busy and being stressed lies in the level of control that I have over a situation. There can be deadlines and priority tasks coming out of my ears but as long as feel on top of it all I can sail over them like some majestic ocean-going ship.
But take away that element of control and suddenly it's a very different story. I feel myself starting to panic. I flick between the To Do list and the calendar without really taking in the details of either and my heart races at the impossibility of the task that I have before me.
March was a bit like that. I won't bore you with the details but suffice it to say that as a family we were over-committed and as self-appointed Captain of the good ship Clark I took it upon myself to steer us into calmer waters and land before we all got scurvy. ( Ok! Enough of the sea metaphors please.)
Today I am calm. Ok, there's still frost on the grass but the sky above me is blue and the birds are singing. I have finished my troublesome Life Writing Assignment without having to blatantly lie, I have got to the end of my highly productive but actually quite stressful Fast Fiction Experiment, school is shut and there is chocolate in every corner of my house. Ok, I have one child on crutches after a nasty operation, GCSEs hammering on the door and two more quite demanding assignments to write but I am in control and so there is no stress attached to them - today.
Time to take stock methinks and focus on lessons learned. The first thing is that we survived it all. It seems that having a strong foundation of routine in place means that when things start to get choppy ( oops - sorry!) we can fall back on how things usually run as we all singing from the same hymn sheet (that's a paper sheet - not a rope.)
I have also learned that when the chips are down, I don't actually have to do everything myself. My teenagers rose to the challenge beautifully, collecting siblings, cooking meals and generally acting as mini-mes when required. I probably need to relinquish control a little and expect more of them so that they can build on the levels of responsibility that they took up when I needed help
Finally, I should perhaps learn to say no to them more often. March would have been tricky no matter what but it was the added extras that nearly scuppered the ship. ( I give up! I can't help myself.) There is no shame once in a while, in the interests of self-preservation, in accepting that there are limits to what can be achieved.
But, then again, we took it all on, we didn't drop any balls and we have come out the other side in one piece. So perhaps biting off more than you can chew isn't necessarily always a bad idea. But don't ask me to do anything extra this month!