As I held my toe in woe two Wednesday nights ago, I could only think the worst: It’s totally broken. How will I be able chase Max (4) and Conrad (2), who regularly require physical guidance to stay on track? How will I get us packed for our eight-day trip to Europe? How will I make it to the airplane on Saturday, and then again on Tuesday, and then again the following Sunday? The answers lay in a series of actions that would also benefit my normal life, if only I’d put up my feet and relax.
I called my orthopedic surgeon step-brother who told me I could wait until the morning to see a doctor, so I popped a sleeping pill and prayed I would wake up recovered. Of course, I didn’t, so I grabbed my computer and hobbled to the Emergency Room. While there (and with my feet up), I caught up on emails and work, and wrote a few girlfriends. By the time I was ready to leave, it was Thursday at noon, and I had worked through my newfound situation. I was clear headed and at peace. I put my plan into action:
I cancelled all optional activities.
We skipped the last swimming lesson, I cancelled a lunchtime playdate, then cancelled dinner with some girlfriends. I kept a family dinner on Friday with our closest friends.
I put up my feet.
While Conrad napped, Max watched videos for two hours straight while I sat next to him and worked with my feet up.
I played with my kids.
When Conrad woke up, we all went in the playroom and played until my husband came home. I didn’t even try to do anything else.
I got help.
I booked our sitter to come in on Friday morning to play with the kids while I packed. By the time she left, I was nearly done.
I accepted chaos.
Instead of continually trying to get my three problem areas in my home under control (the desk, the bar, the top of the chest by the door), I accepted them way they were. Messy. I exhaled, and moved on. I spent time straightening the rest of the house and got it in great shape.
I put up my feet again.
We went to our friends house for dinner on Friday evening and I put my injured foot on her dining table and drank wine. (Not to worry: I took it down before dinner.)
By the time we got back from dinner, we were relaxed and almost ready. My husband and I went to bed at a reasonable hour, and had a stress-free morning followed by a stress-free trip. Sure, I hobbled, but the umbrella stroller made a perfect walker.
Without paying much of a price (a broken toe is inconvenient, but not much more), I learned some valuable lessons about living a lower-stress life. Of course, now that I can walk normally again, I’m annoyed by the desk, the bar, the top of the chest by the door. I’ve accepted a lunch playdate I could do without. But I’m spending more time putting up my feet and working on ways to do more by doing less.
Sarah Western Balzer grew up in Tampa, FL and worked in the music industry in New York, Washington, DC and London before she got married, started a lifestyle relocation business in London, and had a baby. Now she lives in Toronto and is a mostly full-time mom, but still oversees the Lifestyle section of London-based financial news website, Here Is The City . She and her husband, who is German, have two sons, a Brit and a Canadian.