Every night before I go to bed I like to take a few minutes to think about how my day went, and how I feel about it. There was a time recently where I felt like there was a lot of nights where I was going to bed feeling like I failed to complete what I had set out to do that day, leaving me feeling frustrated, and unsuccessful. I would sit in the quiet, and draw in an exasperated breath as I blew out my candle, and headed to bed unsure how to go about resolving the issue.
This is likely a familiar scenario with a lot of you reading this whether you're a parent/caregiver of a child with special needs, or are disabled yourself, or are just caught in a busy life with a high level of demands for a multitude of reasons.
I found myself redrawing my schedule, and reworking plans, but not able to make things work. There was simply too much to do, and not enough of me to do it, not to mention the moments I craved of solitude were becoming fewer, and farther between.
One day as I cleaned out some old stuff that my daughter had left behind when she moved out the answer started to become more clear. I grabbed a set of decorative pillows that had a small tear in the seam, and as I took them aside I went to find a bag to put them into so I could set them aside to sew them the tear later, and then likely sell them. Then I thought, but what if i didn't? I reasoned that I would likely never get to it, anyway, which was true. What if I just gave them to someone else who could give them the attention they needed? So, that is what I did.
I began to look at a lot of my belongings this way. Piles of projects that I wanted to get to someday suddenly seemed like they were more in the way, and taking up space than anything.I started getting rid of clutter, and clearing out the clutter in my mind, too. My attitude started shifting from
trying to make everything fit into my day to what is the best, most important things that I can fill my day with? I know that I might want to get to certain things, but realistically I only have this much time to spend, and my schedule is already full. If I want to fit more in I have to give something else up. I have to balance my time budget somewhere.
I began to think of that in other ways, too, though. Time is like money. There is only so much of it, and for some of us, it has to be balanced with energy that can come with living with chronic illness, as well. My days are finite. I can't possibly get to everything, so in order to be sure that the most important tasks get attended to, and the tasks that bring me joy also get attention I must prioritize. That isn't easy. If you've ever had to make a very tight budget work you know how hard it can be to choose to let go of some stuff that you'd like to have, or do to make room for needs. It can feel that way with time budgets, too.I had to clear away some physical clutter, and am still working at that in small workable chunks. I would love to make scrapbooks, or refurbish some old pieces of furniture, but realistically that is not in my time budget right now. They likely won't be for a few years, so it was time to get rid of some of the stuff I had been collecting for some of those projects, so I could have some space for other stuff. It was really hard to be realistic with myself about what goals I could accomplish short term, and which ones were probably out of reach for me right now. I tend to think I can do three times as much in one day than I actually can, and that is where I get into the loop of feeling stressed, because I feel like I failed, and like I am behind, which only slows my progress.
Doing some of this has helped me feel a little more positive at the end of the day, and is helping me to rework priorities. I am still working at it, and trying to change my mind frame from feeling like I need to take care of everything all the time, to being more realistic with my time constraints. It's allowing me to feel a lot less pressured, and more accomplished, because I can see what I did do at the end of the, and not as much of what I didn't.
What things do you think you could spend your time more wisely on? What things do you think you might let go to make room for other activities that are more important to you?