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?