I caught up with my friend Tiff recently. She’s a wonderful mate that I’ve known for nearly 20 years since we met in a backpacking hostel in Edinburgh. We’ve seen each other through coming of age bullshit, experimental haircuts and fashion choices, bizarre share house drama, relationships, illness, kids, relationship break ups, interstate moves, and all manner of things. And now, we live 10 minutes from each other, which is a huge gift because I love Tiff and her gorgeous daughter. But I hadn’t seen them since well before Christmas.
I’ve been too busy.
The first conversation we had, as we sat in the park and watched our kids frolic around together and have a grand old play like no time had passed at all, started like this:
Tiff: “How have you been? Oh, I know you must be so busy…”
And I just thought to myself: What an arsehole. What kind of boring person are you becoming, where your friends feel less a priority than all the other stuff you have going on?
Yes, I am busy. I have a whole lot going on. I have three kids, a job, a blog, a fledgling business, a husband, friends, family and other extra-curricular activities. But at what cost? At the cost of being able to spend an hour in the park catching up with a close friend? That’s bullshit.
Then I was dropping Miss 10 at school yesterday – the morning of her swimming carnival. I kissed her and said, “Good luck today. Remember the breathing technique we talked about for your butterfly race. I can’t wait to hear how it all goes.”
And she looked at me with her big blue-grey eyes and said, “You’re not staying?”
And again, I took a moment to reflect on the choices I’m making here. I’ve taken on extra work projects this month because as a dyed-in-the-wool freelancer, I feel pathologically unable to say no to work when it’s offered (the freelance life can be feast or famine).
But it’s time I did.
I have always said one of the great things about working from home is that I am flexible – I can go to events that are important to the kids, I can go for lunch with a friend, I can fit in all the things I want to fit in.
Perhaps it’s time I started putting my money where my mouth is and found some real balance. Keeping Up With the Holsbys has some great advice on coping with overload which I am planning on instigating too.
So from today I will be strategic about the work I accept. I will prioritise friends over non-urgent projects. I will go to my children’s sports carnivals and concerts. I will take the time to go out for lunch. I might even find the time to relax a little.
How about you?
Carolyn the hardest thing about being self employed (running a business, being a partner, mother, blogger etc etc) is you are a much tougher boss than any employer. What you’ve described was my life ten years ago…to my younger self I would say “you have permission to take some time out for those precious moments”…I didn’t x
Thanks Anna – I know taking time out is something I won’t regret. xx
Oh Carolyn, this is so true and exactly how I’ve been feeling too! I’ve been promising myself that once I submit a particular job this week that I’m rejigging my routine and priorities, let’s hope it sticks!
I think we need to do more than hope, Eva – I’ll take some time off if you will. (Probably can’t do it at the same time though!)
This is the third time I’ve responded to your comment – sorry if they all come up! WordPress is playing silly buggers with me.
Likey! Absolutely a paradox that’s hard to get around. And if you don’t go do stuff, you got nothing to write about, right?! I can’t believe you didn’t tell the ‘wig at livid’ story. 🙂
Ha! Yeah, that’s a cracker of a story – not sure it’s quite right for this post. 😉
Maybe you should start by not being so hard on yourself! That is said with love, not being nasty. I am 54, and honestly, as busy now as when my kids were little. It’s the damned if you do, damned if you don’t! I feel guilty not going to my granddaughters school events during the day 🙁 I am learning to say ‘no’ finally, with a lot of pressure from my partner, been too close to burnout lately. Wishing you all the best, Kathryn xx
Thank you, Kathryn! Absolutely taken in the spirit it was offered. Of course, you are right – we are our own worst critics, aren’t we. I think I just need to schedule in a few moments to stop and smell those roses occasionally. xx
I’m just trying to get everything done – and remember to breathe – right now. Some friends might gawk at me for scheduling catch-ups over a month in advance, but hey – at least I’m trying! Life IS busy. And as wanky as it sounds to say that, it’s true. I’d like to think we’re all just doing the best we can. x
I’m reasonably certain I would fail. #positiveattitude
I just commented on another blog about how much I love that she (Annette of I give you the verbs) is so good at self care. I am so rubbish at it. All the good intentions in the world don’t seem to make it happen.
I have some holidays coming up in June and I think perhaps I need to use them to press the reset button. I am actually too busy to press it at the moment 🙂