Stretched Thin and What to Do About It

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Almost two years ago when I quit my corporate job, my wise aunt informed me that I would fill up my newfound time so much that I would wonder how I ever fit that job into my life. Nervous to be home full time with my kids, I had a hard time believing her. How would I manage the long, lonely days tethered to my children without the assistance of day care? Even though I desperately needed a change in my life, I was intimidated by the vast amounts of time awaiting me each week on Monday mornings when my stay-at-home-mom routine went into effect.

Filling up the calendar was a challenge the first summer I was home. I would schedule weekly activities on my Cozi calendar, write out daily craft ideas on a refrigerator pad, and have yet another place to list chores like grocery shopping and bathroom cleaning, in fear that I would run out of ideas for things to do. This system was my safety net, providing me with structure and security when I needed it. I was lucky to rope in a few moms to schedule regular-standing playdates, which really seemed to help my routine, and I tried to stretch out park playtime and water table fun as much as possible.

It’s hard to imagine that I feel stretched thin now, given that my life seems relatively similar to twenty-three months ago. I still have two little kids at home and am managing at least one of them at all times every week. Yet, despite this reality, I have added so much to my plate without even factoring in how I will accomplish it all with my limited free time. Unconsciously, I have created a sinking ship.

I am inspired to grow my editing and writing work into a dependable business and am energized to still have a career two years after leaving my reliable corporate job. But I am tasked to fit work into my already-packed schedule of ferrying children, arranging playdates, and completing chores. I’m also volunteering at church frequently and have added workouts to my calendar three days a week. While I want to “do it all” — raise my kids, have a career, and give back to the community, life has its limitations.

I didn’t realize this internal strife about time until this week. After working the entire weekend, which happened to be the first gorgeous one of the year, and receiving message after message via email and social media accounts of awesome volunteer opportunities and not-to-be-missed social dates, I started to agonize about the hours in the day.

As I went on a walk with a dear friend yesterday, I dumped these feelings on her as we meandered through our neighborhood. Her observations crystalized the thoughts running through my head, though I didn’t have the breakthrough until later that evening. She said that from personal experience, she’s only able to manage two things at once. After thinking about this breakdown of life’s many responsibilities and opportunities, I realized that I need to grab hold of the two things I want to focus on most and let everything else go. So, at this juncture, I am choosing family and my small business (which includes getting back to blogging!). Every commitment for the time being will have to relate to those priorities. Of course, I will work on myself too, but I am using this 50/50 rule to help reduce the feelings of overcommitment and stress in my life.

After breakfast this morning, I read a blog post from my feedly account called “How to Give People a Watered Down, Exhausted Version of Yourself” from yes and yes. Wow, how that post was the right message at the right time! Here’s an excerpt:

Being exhausted and overwhelmed serves no one. It’s better to be great at two things than shitty at seven. You deserve to actually enjoy your job and relationships; they deserve the best you have to offer.

Are you guilty of taking on too much and then doing a less-than-amazing job on all of it? Where could you cut back? If you’ve stopped overdoing it – what did you stop doing?

So, there you have it. The universe is telling me to stick to those two things that are calling me at this very moment. I’ll keep you posted on my progress in giving those things the best I have to offer.

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3 thoughts on “Stretched Thin and What to Do About It”

  1. Thanks for the compliment! I am aiming to have better posts as part of my focus on work. Hoping to move the more thoughtful posts over to a new blog soon — stay tuned!

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