When people have argued against marriage because they feel they couldn’t be tied down to one person for all of time – I feel I must interject, I haven’t been married to just one person. I dated and married a theology student, passionate about Old Testament History and ancient greek language. Later, I was married to a hard working miner, that grew a heart for, and cared so deeply for the hard, crusty coworkers he froze his butt off along side up on the tundra. As we’ve moved into more recent seasons, I’m married to an affectionate daddy and a pastor, passionate about structure and leadership strategy. All of these facets have been different, they bring out different sides of both of us and I’d be ignorant (and depressed) to think I’ve stayed static and the same this entire time.
In entering into this new season of starting full time work – I feel like I’ve just walked through this door of adulthood. Suddenly the title of “working mom” having to juggle a family, a job, and a few other responsibilities feels less like playing house and more like playing.. real life. Not that staying at home with my baby wasn’t real life, it was just different. We could shut the world out or be out in the world – whatever we’d like. We got to choose.
But I am learning something through this season; just as I have learned to love ever evolving Jordan, how we fit together as we continue to evolve and change, I am learning to love and flex with how I have changed. Specifically, how my needs have changed. Now that I work essentially nine to five work hours, my days, priorities and time feels so different. Suddenly evenings are precious jewels that I guard and give out sparingly. From the time I leave work to the time I put Finnley down to sleep, it’s roughly 2.5-3 hours.
I had a sudden realization how much things have changed last week. Our evenings are naturally very full and we had an event on a Wednesday night. Something that really, should have been “filling” for me, something that I normally enjoy. I was torn. I wanted to go because I normally love it, I love the people I’m with and the activities we do, but at the same time – my house was a mess and I missed my baby. I didn’t want to drag her to something else when she’d been out all day at daycare. Finally, Jordan said “Babe, please stay home. Put Finn to bed early and enjoy your evening.” He gave me the permission I needed to play hooky (and not feel bad) and he went with out me.
You know what was interesting? It was the most recharging three hours of my whole week. I put Finn to bed, I puttered, I cleaned, I watched a show on my iPad. I love my husband, but now with our jobs, we commute together, we work together, we grocery shop together. We spend a heck of a lot of time together. I needed a couple hours to just be alone, getting my house in order. I was so refreshed and peaceful by the time he got home I felt like I’d taken a long nap.
It has taken me a bit to realize, as your life changes, your needs change, the busy times, I need solitude and order in my house, the quieter moments of life, when I get that, I can look forward to entertaining and events and things that draw on my ‘reserves’. Just as much as I make it a priority to know and discover who my husband is and what he needs are, it’s important I do the same for myself. This new season means more time with people and less time at home, spending time alone, putting things in order from the previous evening’s busyness, just being with my girl. I used to putter around the house all day, cleaning, organizing, cuddling my little lady, looking forward to when Jordan would get home and we’d go off to some evening activity. Now we limit and guard what little evening time we have together because unfortunately, I still have not located those little elves that clean your house while you’re at work. And for me, I feel a great sense of peace and control over my life when my house is clean and my life feels organized.
I realize that’s not for everyone. Jordan can go to bed with the dishes not done and sleep like a baby (let’s be honest, Jordan could go to bed with the house on fire and still sleep like a baby) but as I continue on in life, I really do see the value in learning your own needs, because in order to be able to pour yourself out and spend a bit of yourself, you need reserves to pour out of..which, I do believe our society seems to push us to continue to run on empty fumes. I’ve learned working from a place of fulfilled contentment gets you a lot farther ahead in the long run, even though it means taking pitstops along the way.
Here are three “filters” that help me run through the activities of life and keep a balance of sanity in the busyness of life.
- Identity your fillers – these are the things that recharge you. These are the things that replenish and refresh you. For me, it’s spending time organizing my house, or a work out or quality time with my family. For Jordan, he likes to tune out and watch a movie, play sports or..I’m not even kidding “spend time thinking”. Like actually, he needs time to just sit and process his thoughts. He’s a lot more refined than I ..ohhh look! Laundry, I should do a load! (Seriously though, I could never sit and “just think”.) These are the things that bring us life, they recharge us for the busy moments.
- Identify your drainers – these are the things that you feel wear you out. They take energy, sometimes you have to work yourself up to them, or prepare for them. These are the things that we can’t just jump from one drainer to the next drainer without eventually burning ourselves out. It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a negative, it just means it is something you need to give yourself time in between from. IE for me – I love my job, I find it fulfilling, but it also takes away from some of my greatest fillers – my family. After I work, I need to intentionally spend time with my family because I miss them while working. Other things in this season for me that have now become drainers are cooking during the week (meal plans and crock pots for the win!), and too many social events in the evenings.
- Adopt an OR instead of AND mentality – Ok so this is revolutionary. Our pastor preached an amazing message on time recently. You can hear it here if you’re interested. He talked about we often try and cram a billion things into our schedule like “We are doing this AND we need to get that done AND we have this event AND we have this in our schedule” but our time is so valuable and precious – we need to adopt OR. “We can do this OR this – but not both”. Instead of running ourselves ragged, we need to prioritize what is most important and cut what often seems important – but really isn’t. This is a hard discipline, and not always an easy choice – but SO worth it. This theme seems to be coming at me from all angles these days – Jordan read this book recently and I’ve picked it up and it’s brilliant – Essentialism – The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. – Trust me – it’s one you should make time for.
These have been some helpful tips for me, as I learn to bring a new rhythm to my work, home, mother, wife, life balance – it’s a continued practice that will never achieve perfect balance (but hey, that’s one of the quests of life that keeps us moving right?) but I’m enjoying learning each new piece of me as I go and develop. If you have some tips on handling a busy life, I’d love to hear them!