You know that stress that's not upfront and center? The kind that's just kind of always humming in the background no matter what you're doing? There's the obvious stresses that go along with taking care of two kids and a husband and myself and financial stresses. I don't want to minimize that . But there's this other, more insidious kind of stress that saps whatever little energy I have left after everything is done. This stress is kind of sneaky and you really have to focus on it if you want to alleviate it.
The most apparent background stress that was getting to me was Z1's homeschooling. I felt like I wasn't getting enough done with him daily. At least not as much as I felt he should be doing. So I posed the question to a homeschooling board I'm on and from the responses, I realized that I had not been prioritizing his homseschooling. Now, I knew it was pretty important to me but I had to ask myself what was more important. The question was promptly answered: getting the boys out to activities, playdates, and the like. They're young and Z1 is still pre-school age so technically there was nothing wrong with that but I had two conflicting things going on. I wanted to get school work done but I also wanted them to have a lot of play and be around other kids. Something had to give. I had to relax on something. I decided to relax on the schooling. It is still a priority to me but I've realized that I have to prioritize my priorities. Perhaps in a few more months I can come back and re-evaluate. I most likely will do that the closer he gets towards first grade. But I still had the stress of feeling like I was not doing enough with him humming in the background so I committed to doing something academic with him daily either before or after mealtimes as I'm able. It doesn't have to be grand. It can be simple. A review. Anything. I've been doing it for a week or so now and so far, so good.
I thought about the other humming stresses in my life. Waking up at the crack of dawn to journal and chant and exercise. I realized, being the driven person that I am, that I had been background stressing myself to increase the length of time I chanted. Going to Buddhist meetings and stuff, you hear folks talking about how they chant for 20, 30, 40 or even 60 minutes. Not to be outdone, I was giving it my all. But I was burning out--dragging myself out of bed, distracted while chanting anyway. So I decided to prioritize my priorities when it comes to my morning "me time". Right now, fitness is extremely important to me. Chanting and journaling is too but to a lesser extent. Perhaps in a few months, that might change. So I committed to going back to my 5, 5, 5. Journal for 5 minutes. Read for 5 minutes. Chant for 5 minutes. Fifteen minutes altogether which leaves me ample time to get my
long ass P90x + cardio that I have to add in on top of all that workout in. I don't have to put on two episodes of Blues Clues to get through my workout (and deal with the accompanying stress and guilt of my boys watching too much TV) and I don't have to throw my whole morning schedule off trying to fit it all in. This helps me tremendously as I then have time to do some school work with Z1 in a more relaxed way. I've been doing that for a few days now and so far so good.
Another humming stress is keeping the house clean. I have this schedule that I try to keep but it is often impossible to keep. The failure to keep up with the schedule hums loudly in the background. I had to prioritize my priorities again. It is a priority of mine to keep the house neat. It helps me function better physically and mentally. But getting meals together and doing laundry seems to be a higher priority right now. As long as things are not gross (I've developed the habit of spot cleaning more than full-out, top-to-bottom cleaning), I have to deal with some untidiness. Perhaps in a few
months years, that might change but I've been doing it this way for a week or so now and so far so good.
So I've identified here three humming stresses that have been weighing me down. There are others like wanting to write more consistently and get published, doing more with my blog, reading more, knitting and crocheting more. Basically these are all the things I want or need to do that vie for the limited time I have. And I figured out the key to alleviating those stresses was to organize them in terms of what is most important to me at this moment: prioritizing my priorities. It goes without saying that you have to take a long hard look at what takes up most of the time in your day. These are priorities whether you want to believe it or not and you have to decide if you actually want those things to be priorities. For example, I used to spend a good clip of time reading blogs and being on message boards. I really enjoy that. But the time it was eating was just too much. It was an unwanted, unconscious priority (not that I didn't want to be doing it but I didn't want it as a priority). But at this point, I'd rather other things be priorities. So in the interest of not depriving myself, I have maybe four or five favorite blogs (shout out Keep It Trill and BlackGirlinMaine) that I always take ten minutes or so to check and I have a whole host of posts starred. I hate to go to my reader and see that folks have updated their blogs 10 times already but I had to let it fall to the wayside a bit--at least until the dynamics in my life change. I rarely post or read message boards except the ones I moderate.
I accept that I don't have unlimited time or energy. It is what it is, really. As the kids get older and can help out more, it'll free up more time. Then I hope to be able to fit more in so that my life looks more like what I'd want it to look like ideally.
Picture Credit: http://www.marvinhimel.com/blog/tag/priorities/