I’m still looking for it. I used to be severely out of balance. I’m a little better now, but I still have a lot of work to do.
Before I quit my job to take on my new role as a trophy wife, I was feeling pretty overwhelmed. I hated my brain-sucking job, which I kept trying to fix, but I felt stuck as the one who could make the most money, the one to provide the family with good health insurance, and the one with a good retirement fund. Maybe if I had loved my job it would have been different, but I never felt like it was what I was supposed to be doing with my life. On top of that, I had taken charge of managing our family: managing our schedules (to the minute), our finances, our kids, and our home. And while it seemed like I was doing everything right, it felt like I wasn’t doing anything well.
So I quit my job, and the balance quickly shifted. It made a lot of things better, but far from perfect. Moving away from a highly regimented lifestyle takes some getting used to. Having a lot less money to spend (or save) takes getting used to. Being around your kids a lot more takes getting used to. We’ve adjusted pretty well, but the one thing I haven’t gotten used to yet is how to best manage my free time.
For six hours of the day, from 9am until 3pm, the kids are at school and I am left to my own devices. Those six hours always fly by, and while I don’t sit around reading magazines or watching daytime TV, what exactly am I doing with all that time?
I like to joke that I’ve become a trophy-wife, but let’s face it, I’ve actually become a housewife. Letting go of my old job was a huge release, and I don’t regret it for a second, but I wanted this transition to be more of a sabbatical than a permanent move to stay-at-home-mom-dom. I wanted to use my time wisely so I could figure out my true creative self, and harness that into a meaningful career – one that allows me a much better balance between my family and myself. Instead I have this perpetual low-level anxiety that I’m not making any movement; or worse, that I have no idea of what I should be moving towards.
I’m actually surprised at how comfortable I am being home alone every day. I thought I would be lonely, but I love it. Although the house talks to me constantly and says things like: “Fix me!” “Clean me!” “Organize me! “Weed me!” And I obey. But now it needs to stop.
For the past few weeks I’ve been tracking my time in an excel spreadsheet, color-coding the blocks of time. Green is time I dedicate to kids/family/home. Orange is time I dedicate to helping Todd’s business. Grey is time I spend doing things just for me – working on ‘The Suzanne Project”. Yellow is neutral time – time with the family, relaxing, having fun. Here’s what last week looked like:
Notice there isn’t too much grey? Notice all that green in the middle of the day? That needs to change. To me, this would be a more ideal week:
This ideal is not something to necessarily adhere to; it’s just an idea of what could be. It’s a way of thinking about my day differently, and organizing it to maximize ‘Suzanne time’. It’s too easy for me to fall into old patterns of feeling like I always need to be taking care of everyone else. Taking better care of me will only benefit everyone else. Right? I also need to let go of feeling like I need to figure out exactly where I’m going. I have a feeling that if I just allow myself time to focus on this journey, that a direction will begin to appear.
So I better get started maximizing this time I have for myself, because school gets out in 23 days, and all that ‘Suzanne time’ is about to disappear. That’s when I’m gong to really have to let go and enjoy the freedom that summer has to offer.