taking my time back

If I had only ONE resolution for the New Year, it would be just that.  I need to do some serious taking-back of my time.  MY TIME.  (I think my husband has been trying to get me to do this for a long time, and I’ve either not understood or chosen not to listen. ) 

Since taking a full-time job back in August, my life has gotten real hectic, real fast.  I truly do not know how everyone else–with young children, ambitious workout routines, major volunteer commitments–manages to work full-time and NOT go crazy.  I realize I began my job thinking I’d be able to continue doing all the things I did before, which was unrealistic.  It took me about two months to figure that one out.

But here I am, four months into the job, and I don’t feel like it’s really settled down all that much.  I try not to stay as late at work (meaning I’m working two-ish extra hours a week instead of five), but it’s been a MONTH since my last blog post and I barely made it through Christmas, not to mention the loads of missed workouts along the way.  I’m still having trouble finding balance, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I must TAKE BACK MY TIME.

A little while ago, I wrote down all the things I did outside of work in a given month:

Twelve things. TWELVE THINGS!  And some of those things are big time commitments, nor does it include th eobligatory house-cleaning, food-prepping, etc…).  I’m definitely one of those ‘yes’ people, and when I wasn’t working, it was easy to do a lot of little ‘onsie-twosie’ things a month that didn’t take a lot of my time and allowed me to volunteer and/or help others, especially in a nutrition capacity.  But now that most of my time each week is spent at work, I soon realized I needed to give some things up.

So, I analyzed my list:

*”COOK!” is on the ‘to-add’ list.  I love cooking, and I desperately miss it.

I crossed-off some things that gave me no joy and highlighted the things I most wanted to do.  (Clearly I haven’t mastered the art of doing what I most want to do, since my workouts and the blog are the things suffering!)

Then, I wrote down how much time each activity took.  Writing my nutrition column for the paper doesn’t necessarily bring me joy, but it does bring me a little money and it doesn’t take a lot of time.  French, on the other hand, was a four-hour commitment one day a week, and that didn’t include studying.  Sadly, I realized this wasn’t the season of life for me to continue with French if I couldn’t put the time into it that it deserved.  God provided a way out of the Nutrition ROCs program; my intern at work, who is interested in pediatric nutrition, expressed an interest in picking up the program from me one day while I was venting about having too many things in my schedule.  PTL!

Overall, I can’t say that I’ve seen a big change…yet.  Just as I off-loaded some of these activities, the holidays hit in full swing and I could barely keep up.  I can honestly say that this was the first year I didn’t enjoy doing our Christmas cards, which made me very sad.  Other years, our tree and decorations might already be put away; this year I’m in complete denial the holiday is over and am continuing to enjoy the lights and using my Christmas-themed mugs.  Perhaps next weekend.

But I do have hope.  With Christmas and NYE behind me and fresh planner pages ahead of me, I’m determined to be more vigilant in how–and to whom–I give my time.  January might still be tough; I still have some scheduling issues to work out, but I’m approaching this year with a whole new mindset: MY TIME needs to be important, too.

Until now, I’ve lived my life constantly working first, relaxing second.  (And I can tell you that most days, there is no time to relax before I crawl into bed, often too late.)  As a child, I always did my homework before I played.  As a college student, I couldn’t sleep the night before PT because I was too stressed, knowing I had to wake up early.  Now, I work at work AND I work at home and I’m lucky if I get to ‘relax’ by checking my email once a day.

I married a man who relaxes first and works second, at least at home.  (This is not a knock against him, he just approaches housework differently than I do.) This has also caused great strife in our marriage.  Recently, he’s cleaned the entire downstairs before our Christmas Eve party, and today, he got the dog to the groomer AND cleaned our bathroom–including the shower (!!!)–perhaps the two most dreaded tasks that have been on my to-do list for, like, months.  He sees that I’m at my wits’ end, and he steps in.

But he also wants me to learn from this.  He wants me to learn to not over commit, to not spread myself too thinly.

In this New Year, I want to prioritize what’s most important to me: my relationships and my health.  First, we’re going back to church.  We’ve gotten lazy and tired and overwhelmed, but that’s no excuse for not going.  We’re ready to connect to a new church family and are already looking forward to next weekend’s service. Second, I’m de-cluttering my schedule so that I can prioritize exercise.  I’ve always been active (heck, I ran a marathon this year!), but this last month or so, my workouts have taken a real hit.  Time to TAKE THEM BACK.  Third, I’m prioritizing nutrition, starting today with Day 1 of my January Whole30.  I’ve done Whole30s before, and while they’re kinda faddish and my dietitian heart balks at eliminating whole food groups, I truly believe it’s the best program to maximize nutrition, form new habits AND address unhealthy relationships with food.

I wish you all the best in health and happiness this year, and would appreciate thoughts and prayers right now in this hectic season of life Andrew and I are in.

And, lastly, if you typically receive a Christmas card from us, have no fear!  They did get completed–letter and all–and will be at the post office tomorrow.

4 thoughts on “taking my time back

  1. Great idea to work on balance. I’ve found that bullet journaling has helped a ton. Keeps me organized and the idea of journaling and planning is a relaxing creative activity in and of itself. Have you tried that? I see your lists already.
    Also as a working mom, prioritizing is most important, and second is asking for help. I love a clean house (which also caused strife in my marriage) but found I loved working more than cleaning, so we bring in help every other week to handle the cleaning tasks that we used to fight about. (She’s a miracle worker, laundry, cleaning, dusting, bathrooms, deep cleaning chores)
    I can’t say I’m great at it but the ongoing self reflection reminds me it is important to find balance, a job that has the right hours (most of the time) and prioritizing my non working hours & energy doing things that always bring me joy.

    Good luck on your quest,

    1. Thanks and welcome! I’ve struggled with the idea of hiring a cleaner and having a big dog is part of the issue (both causing the hair problem and making it more difficult to bring someone in). Ultimately, I had to learn to let the house cleaning go a bit, but it’s really stressful. What is ‘bullet journaling?’ I’m definitely a list-maker, so it sounds like something from which I might benefit! Please share!

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