Categories
Life Work

Confessions of a recovering workaholic.

The path to succeed is never linear.

Let me start by saying that I’ve been feeling extra guilty for not being able to update here much lately. Work has taken a big chunk of my time, leaving little wiggle room for much else for me, including things like sleep and showering. Our first family vacation is just around the corner now, and I’ve been scrambling to get the last little bits of stuff together before we drive away and shut the world out for a week.

But I’ve been here before. Actually, I’ve been in worse situations, where there was too much work and not nearly enough down time. Not too long ago, I managed to graduate college debt-free by taking 18 credit hour semesters, working three jobs, and actively participated in two other student organizations. All while helping a family business get off the ground.

Now that was hell. 60 hour work weeks feel like vacation to me now.

There will be periods of time where I’ll have a sort of mini existential crisis. This is when I’ll wonder what the hell I’m doing with my life (not fully utilizing my bachelor’s degree is one example) and whether it is beneficial to me in the long run. Sure, things can get depressing while pondering the above, but it is an important thought process for me to have.

You see, people like to think progress is like A, then B, then C. When in reality it’s basically jsGjdkslHkdnskd- (literally slamming my keyboard) then maybe you get money for it. God, if life was really that predictable and stable looking, I feel like people wouldn’t be freaking out about nearly everything as much.

Running out of money and dealing with severe burnout was not in my master plan of obtaining a bachelor’s degree. I don’t think anyone finds any pleasure nor strives to work themselves to the point of sleep deprivation and forgetting to do things like eat, sleep, and neglect basic hygiene things like showering. No wonder people are all smelly and depressed these days. Fortunately for me, the resulting crashes from overworking myself had positive outcomes. I learned to slow down to stop and smell the roses without feeling guilty about it.

Growing up, my work ethic was born out of necessity (for things like eating) and at the same time trying to keep up with the kids that had money to do extracurricular things. School field trips, social activities, club fees, you name it. Sure, I could work long hours and suck up the pain associated with that, but I was smart enough to know in the long run that working this way 24/7 is just plain unsustainable. But I wanted a lot of things. And the only way at the time to get myself those things was to work my ass off for them.

While it takes a certain degree of madness and dedication to accomplish any big goal in life, the best advice I can give anyone with a full plate is to make sure to come up for air every once in a while. All the work, bills, and general chaos that is life will still be waiting for you after that much-needed break. Don’t let the little things kill you.

Now here’s the part where you really came for – How to not die of burnout? Maybe you’re in the thick of it and need some tips on how to manage when breaks are apparently not an option? Now let me stress this – please take time to take care of yourself. You are useless to others if you don’t put on your own oxygen mask first.

Anyway, here are my somewhat embarrassing and sometimes nasty things I did to get by during the worst of it.

1. Be resourceful and find many uses for everyday things.

Is it day 7 of dirty hair and the dry shampoo decided to run out? Baby powder to the rescue. Don’t have the money for shaving cream? Conditioner works wonders. Not only does this save time and avoid stressing about the little things, it is also very frugal and can save money down the road.

2. Be efficient about time management.

Use notes. Calendars. Reminders. Auto-payments. Anything that can help clear up some mental capacity in your head is great. I’m not ashamed to say I will always use calculators to check my work when crunching numbers. I don’t always trust my math skills, and it saves brainpower for worrying about other silly things.

It is also known that simplifying parts of your daily routine helps to keep that mental space clear. School and work uniforms actually do us a favor – they require little effort or thought in the morning to throw on, and they help reserve that mental energy for working or studying.

3. Don’t be picky.

If things don’t go to plan or play out like you’d like them to, don’t fret. Also, don’t spend your precious energy force to fix things that were perhaps never meant to be fixed in the first place. Focus on what you can do yourself. Don’t allow the actions of others or anything else outside of your control make you feel stuck in a loop.

This is something that is also easier said than done for me. I’m still learning how to let go and let live. If this starts to overwhelm me, I give myself a mental “time out” and start to focus on my actions and how I react to certain situations.

Taking a day off for a breather isn’t the end of the world either. Those things that need to be done or conquered will still be there the next morning. So please rest if needed!

4. Start saying NO.

Imagine you’re sitting at the dinner table during the holidays with some distant relative who keeps insisting you haven’t had enough to eat, but you’ve eaten enough to feed a whole village in one sitting and you just can’t take anymore. You politely have to decline or risk your stomach rupturing.

Simply apply the same visual in your work, your personal life, or whatever when that plate is overflowing. Those who mind won’t matter and those who do matter won’t mind. Your health and sanity is what matters most at the end of the day.

Categories
Children Life

How to handle the question – When are you having more kids?

I know this is often asked with the purest of intentions. Or maybe someone was just trying to make conversation to get to know me better. This is not written towards those people who don’t know better – this is aimed at people whom I may love dearly that continue to ask these kinds of questions without thinking. Even after I have said my piece and ended the discussion with “Someday, but not right now.”

This is also for people who don’t know me personally and then will read a sentence or two of text online before jumping to conclusions and then judge me with the intensity of a thousand suns. Y’all gotta chill.

I’m sorry to report this to those who don’t have kids yet – the question about whether you’re having kids or not doesn’t seem to stop until maybe you get 3 or 4 of them. Then after that, you get comments about how you should stop having kids because 7 is too many. Hey, if that’s your thing, you do you! Why are these people so interested in your kids, anyway? They’re not the ones who will be paying for them.

Sydney Kleinman from Scary Mommy came up with some fantastic responses to this question, and I can still relate to how uncomfortable that pressure to procreate can be.

Sure, you can fumble around and find something polite to say back if this kind of question throws you off guard. I usually do this most of the time. But once in a while, I will resort to a death glare if the question is brought up one too many times.

Here are some of my favorite responses to use for three scenarios I usually face:

“You got grandkids money?”

Remember when you tried to convince your parents to go through a McDonald’s or something because you were hungry and got tired of the food at home? Well, the response above is perfect karma.

I love my mom. I also love my in-laws. Almost immediately after our wedding ceremony was finished, we got bombarded with this question, especially from the hopeful grandparent candidates.

This was probably most often done at this point in jest, but it really started to annoy me. I realize that there are some not-so-great expectations that guys have to deal with from society in general, but the one where I’m supposed to be in misery for several months and then experiencing permanent changes to my body? That’s a big┬ádeal to me. Not to mention the amount of time, money, and resources that will be needed to support such a great venture.

So if you catch me with a cup of ramen noodles, do NOT even go there.

“I have to focus on me for a bit.”

Sure, this one may make me seem selfish, but I think if you take anyone though the physical and emotional pains of labor, make them sleep deprived for several months, and give selflessly to a completely dependent being, I think even the most rational person would tap out from exhaustion.

People seem to forget sometimes that moms are people, too. We have needs to be met as well. I do a whole lot of “nothing” around the house that somehow manages to keep PJ safe and happy for another day. Just because the laundry or dishes didn’t get done doesn’t mean I wasn’t hard at work.

I was one of those women climbing the corporate America ladder before I fell pregnant. Work outside the home is important for me too (because money!) but when I returned to my job at the time, I was overloaded with breadwinner duty and baby duty. There was too much on my plate, and I crashed after trying to maintain everything for about 4 months straight. What I was doing was not sustainable for my health.

My career path has definitely changed up a bit since having PJ, but I believe the change has been for the better, even if it’s a bit delayed. However, I think a sibling for PJ should wait until I can take a few more steps in the direction where I want our family to go.

“Nah, I’m good.”

I realize this isn’t very easy to say in some cases, but it is OKAY to tell someone that kids are not your thing. You really don’t need to explain yourself to anyone. Like for me, I just don’t want another one right now. PJ is enough.

Simple.

…No really, I just don’t want more right now. Maybe later.

Maybe. Now leave me be!