The last three weeks have been some of the busiest, yet most fulfilling, of my life. However, these past 4 days have been the toughest. Between networking, writing resumes & cover letters, approaching people to be references, helping to settle a refugee family (the Rahma’s), hosting our Deacon’s meeting, hosting friends, “hosting” our Coffee Break, counseling distraught friends – I can full on say I’m burnt out.
(And that I seriously need to carry a calendar around so I don’t book so many things in the same week.)
I’ve had a few people comment on my busy-ness with lovely compliments like “superwoman” and “I don’t know how you do it!”. Well, it’s not without help and cutting corners where I can, so I think now’s a good time for transparency and shedding light on this:
- Cleaning Lady – We have made it a priority to invest $ in having someone else clean our house every other week. We’re very fortunate to have the ability to do this and while it relieves a lot of “visual stress”, it also gives us hours of additional time to spend with our family on the weekend. Note: I do spend an average of 3hrs the night before just to clear the floors, clear the counters and clear the dishes so she can actually clean. What can I say – we’re pigs.
- Daycare 3 Days a week – J has always been in daycare part-time during this maternity leave – progressively moving from 5 days to 2 days. That was a blessing because it gave me a chance to spend quality time with C and a chance to work on a variety of projects when she napped. When I was ramping up my career exploration it quickly became apparent that I could not effectively do this while watching C. She had some exposure to daycare when I volunteered at the Summit so I (very thoughtfully) made the decision to put both girls in daycare 3 days a week so I could seriously devote time to career things (career counseling, resumes, applications, networking, etc.). I felt like a sham parent, but at the same time I was so distracted by career-related things that I wasn’t 100% present when I was spending time with C.
- YMCA – Love it. On the days J isn’t in daycare we generally go to the Y in the morning. J goes to the preschool program for 2 hrs and C goes in the nursery while I either work or exercise. (Full disclosure – my initial thought is I must sound like a detached mother who doesn’t love or spend time with her kids. And I’m embarrassed to share this. But I also know that it’s so so so important that we do things that are healthy (like exercise) and take care of ourselves so we can be better parents. So whether we lean on grandparents, friends or child-minders – ain’t no shame in it). More full disclosure – other than a relatively pathetic 20min on the treadmill this week I don’t think I’ve personally utilized the Y facilities for like 3 months. :S
- Spousal support. I’ve learned the difference between give/give relationships and give/take relationships. Give/give relationships are those where one person gives and hopes/expects the other person gives. So I used to give of myself and hope the other side would say “Hey that’s great! Why don’t I give __ to her?” (I’m talking time, not monetary items). And then it wouldn’t happen because thinking that way didn’t come naturally to him, so on and on this went for 13 years. I’ve heard it’s a bit of a male thing and this isn’t uncommon. Then, somewhere in the last few months, I realized “Hey – I am responsible for my own happiness, and if I really want to see my friend out of town because it’ll recharge my batteries, then I should do it because I know my husband is capable of taking care of the girls. It’ll be a challenge – but he can do it.” So I did it. I gave of myself … and I also took. I took the time to volunteer at the Innovation Summit, even though it meant leaving my husband to fend for himself and his daughters for dinner and bedtime two nights in a row. I took a 24hr overnight trip to Toronto to have a quality visit with one of my closest friends. Because how many times have I gone through the same thing when his work was crazy, or hockey practice interfered, or there was a golf tournament? Listen – do everybody a favour and if your support/partner doesn’t already feel comfortable handling your “usual workload”, gently empower them to do it once in a while. It helps them stretch, it gives you time to honor yourself and “fill your bucket”, and it gives them a chance to bond with the kids on a level that’s hard to achieve when 2 parents are around. For the record – hubby did great and said (direct quote) – “It was easy.” Good to know for the future.
- I’ve stopped asking for permission or validation before I do things. Every person is unique. We all have different priorities, limits, emotional triggers, risk tolerances, comfort with change, etc. Instead of wanting to do something, wistfully sighing, and asking someone with a different risk tolerance than me “hmm…I think I want to do xyz …what do you think?” I’ve taken ownership for my own happiness (it’s a theme!) and said – “Tiffany – if you want to do it, and you’re not causing harm to anyone and still being a solid mom and wife, then do it!” I think it’s important to consult with the important people in your life, but ultimately you’re the one living your life, you’re the one choosing to think/interpret things in your life a certain way, and you’re the one who is going to make your dreams come true.
- Accept help when it’s offered. Tomorrow I’m visiting the Rahma’s to see how they’re settling and help them get school supplies. A friend generously offered to donate the supplies and talked about how great it is to be able to connect with them personally, so I asked if she wanted to come along for the visit. She did, and then I mused how it would be great to bring lunch, and she saw that I was frazzled with other things so she very kindly offered to bring it. Then she went and got them a potted plant…and a card…and is making a pictograph of school supplies to help alleviate the language barrier with the mom (who speaks little to no English) and give her some more independence so she doesn’t need to rely on her husband to translate during the shopping trip. (In case you didn’t already know, this friend is super awesome and brilliant.) So accepting her help took this visit from what would’ve been a “I’m trying to do 20 things at once, fly by the seat of your pants, let’s hope and pray it doesn’t bomb” outing to a legit organized, thoughtful, lovely and warm “welcome to Canada” visit.
So that’s it. I have been really fortunate to find ways to do things that are fulfilling and have stretched me more than I’ve ever been stretched.
But you should also know that I don’t do this by myself, I am burnt out, I have not been taking great care of my body (not enough food and sleep with too much go-go-go), and I’m feeling the effects of it.
More work to be done to find the right balance. 🙂
I’m happy and fulfilled with how I’ve been spending my time. I’m thankful for the opportunities I’ve had to do this work, for support and encouragement from my spouse and friends, for having resources we can lean on to share the childminding load, and for babies who (generally) sleep through the night. I’m also thankful for a note I received from a long-lost high school friend who shared her story of postpartum depression and the comfort she received from watching my interview – such a great gift to hear how it impacted someone else’s life. Wow, apparently I’m very thanksgiving-y. 😉 I’m hopeful that I will find the right balance, that I remember that too much of a good thing is too much of a good thing, and that I prioritize my health higher than I have in the past. I’m also hopeful that I prayerfully consider things more, because currently I don’t think I’m doing enough of that.