I’ve been back at work for over four weeks and the pace of things feels… relentless.
It’s the perfect word.
From the minute I wake up until the minute I go to bed, every minute is scheduled, every minute is required for something, or someone.
I’m having a REALLY hard time carving out a space for myself. It’s obvious that I’m going to have to rearrange my expectations. Significantly. I want to do more than I have time for, and I’m trying to determine what is going to fall by the wayside.
Last year I felt like I’d found a decent balance, but I was kidding myself. The only reason I had time for what I wanted to do was because I was only sleeping five hours most nights. By the end of the year I was losing myself to sleep deprivation.
My schedule this year allows me to wake up an hour later, so I’m getting six hours of sleep most night. I know I need about an hour more than that, but I can get by on six hours a lot better than I can on five. I’m thankful to have that extra hour of rest, but I’m realizing that in gaining that sleep I’ve lost time for other things.
My schedule is very different this year. I get to work late, losing most of my prep period, and I can’t stay for very long after school because I have to pick up my kids. This means I can’t make time to get my work done and it’s very stressful when the obligations start to pile up and I realize I can’t come in early, or leave late to get things done. I told my husband that I will need an entire weekend day every few weeks to keep my head above water, there just isn’t any way for me to stay on top of everything without more time.
Of course it feels like I never have enough hours with my kids. It helps that I get to see them in the mornings and in the evenings, but time with them is always rushed by a need to accomplish something. Every one of the minutes I spend with them needs to be productive or the whole operation goes off the rails. There are only about fifteen minutes before bedtime when we can run around or wrastle or tickle or play around. It’s such a pitiful amount of time to actually enjoy being together.
In the evenings, after bed time, my time feels even more limited. There are chores to get done, quality time to squeeze in with my husband, and attempts at filling my own cup. I could never manage all three in one night, so it inevitably feels like I’m shirking my obligations around the house, or ignoring my husband, or not meeting my own needs. I have yet to figure out how to find any time to see my friends (more on that later).
Honestly, at this point, if I make time for one thing, I’m taking time away from another, equally, if not more important, thing. I’m constantly rearranging my priorities, determining what, on any given day, feels necessary. The problem is sometimes that rearranging comes back to bite me on the ass.
Like today, I ran after work and before picking up my kids, but I had to sneak off campus fifteen minutes early and pick up my daughter 15 minutes late to make it work. I did that so I could write here at night, instead of go on the elliptical, but when I chose to run I also chose not to stop by the supermarket which means I had fewer options for dinner.
Last night I was exhausted and passed out at 9pm, right after I put my daughter to bed, which means I didn’t get to spend any time with my husband, who I haven’t really talked to in three days. I also didn’t pick up around the house, which is reaching a level of chaos that really stresses me out.
I feel like I’m trying to fit four hours worth of responsibility into two hours of time every night, and that time is being interrupted by my daughter who still takes 90 minutes to actually fall asleep.
It’s just hard, and stressful, and when I constantly feel like I’m avoiding one thing to accomplish another, none of it feels very satisfying. Exercising loses a little of its ability to relieve stress when I know it’s keeping me from being with my kids and/or my husband. Folding the laundry can’t be a mindless task to be enjoyed in front of the TV when I know it’s causing me to lose precious sleep. I want the time with my husband to feel extra meaningful when it’s keeping me from writing. I feel like everything I do is at the expense of something else, and my cup is becoming a sieve.
When there isn’t enough time, there is no right way to spend it.
I’m feeling so haggard from it, and it’s only the first month of the school year. How can I make this sustainable?
How do you manage everything when there aren’t enough hours in the day? How did you determine your priorities?