I've had another email asking for help with ideas so, with the permission of the writer, I'm opening this up so we all have a chance to offer ideas, support and encouragement. Today's email is from Jo in the UK. To summarise Jo's email, her husband is working nights, her work hours have just been doubled and although she loves her job, she feels she has no time left for herself. Jo lives in semi-rural England with her husband and two chidlren whom she loves very much. Jo writes:
"while others try to out do each other with credit cards, latest fashions, flashy cars, we don't, we have an allotment ( you probably knew what they are) large piece of land that we pay rent for each year, its ours for as long is we want it, we have had it five years now, we grow all our own veg and fruit there, we keep chickens in our back yard, I cook from scratch even the dogs and cats food. We mend things, reuse things, recycle a lot. But recently I feel we have lost out way, got stuck in a rut that I don't like and don't know how to get out of.
I do like to be organized and I cant seem to relax, slow down or stop. At the moment .. I feel I cant take a look at what I am doing and change it, life seems to be going at 200mph and I cant keep up which makes me stressed, silly little things are getting me down, like not being able to refill the bird table every day, surely I should have time for this??, I cant find the passport forms, seems simple right, go to the post office and get new ones , but no for me I have to find the ones I have."
Jo, I think the mother in any family is like a wagon that loads the family aboard and keeps everything on track. Mothers do much of the housework and if you have an outside job as well, you'll have a lot, and maybe too much to do. Don't let the wheels fall off your wagon, ask for help, start saying "no", establish boundaries - for yourself and others, and give yourself time to relax and recover. You are not a machine, you need time when you can do whatever you feel like doing - be that reading, sewing, gardening, thinking or walking - or spending time with the family. But it has to be your choice and what YOU want to do. If you always do for others, you get lost and eventually feel resentment.
I think you might need to go back to your old work hours so you have more time at home. You said you've just paid off a lot of debt so I doubt that is a problem for you. You'll be able to do more, and organise yourself and your home in the way that suits you. You mentioned that you recently took on more guinea pigs and that your work hours were doubled. Those two actions sound like you're just going along with what others want from you. Be proactive with your life. You make the decisions and it's entirely your own choice what you say yes to. You have consciously decided to grow vegetables and keep chooks, you need to also consciously decide to balance the time you spend working with time you give to yourself. Not only do you need to invest time in your home and family, you need to invest it in yourself too. These two old posts may hold a message for you: When mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy and Learning how to say NO.
When you get yourself back on track, you might also think about changing various things you do in the normal course of your day. I often change things here so it stays fresh for me and I keep enjoying repetitive tasks. Those changes might just be rearranging my work spaces and changing how I do certain tasks, but those tiny changes keep it interesting and keep me going back for more. Learn new skills, that brings interest too. And take breaks, make yourself a cuppa and sit reading for a while. When you go back to work, you'll feel refreshed and that you are being looked after too.
Jo, you have got the basics right. There is no doubt about that. You love your husband and children, you're all working together towards being debt-free, you've simplified your lives and are living in a way that will enrich you and keep your family strong. But this is not suppose to be difficult. You make your own rules, you decide what it is you do each day. I think that if you ease off the accelerator and give yourself some time to regroup and organise your daily chores, you'll rediscover that joy you used to find in day to day life. Remember to take small steps and to find joy in small achievements. Look for the beauty in your lives and disregard what your friends and neighbours are doing. You've make some significant steps towards a happy future, all this is just fine tuning.
I hope you have some words of encouragement for Jo. If you do, please add to the comments. Thank you friends.