I have spent the last several weeks setting up our new home, which has been surprisingly enjoyable. I think I've been looking forward to this for a long time and I finally feel like this is my opportunity to be truly housewifey.
When Donald gets home at the end of each day, I try to make sure that the apartment is in good order and that evidence of my progress is clearly apparent to show him that I have been nice and productive. I follow him upstairs to hear about his day as he changes his clothes. I make an appetizer and get drinks and we retire to the living room or back patio to sit and talk until it's time for dinner.
Then I return to the kitchen where I have prepared some parts of dinner ahead of time, have all of the ingredients I need, and a full meal plan figured out. I make dinner while he relaxes and then we eat a yummy, healthy dinner that always looks and tastes good. After dinner, we clean up the dishes, sometimes have dessert, and lounge in front of the TV or chat until it's time for bed.
Is anyone else gagging and rolling their eyes besides me?
Ok, to be fair, this is kind of what I've been doing. It's a little frightening, especially to the screaming, bra-burning feminist I have trapped inside this 1950s wifely persona. And while I'm proud of myself for being a "good wife" I'm also starting to realize that this cannot continue.
I need ME time.
I went shopping earlier this week, for example, for three hours, to get some summery clothes since most of mine got decluttered when I went through my closet. I had a budget and there was a need and I was actually really successful. And I felt guilty for spending that time and money on just me. Seriously.
At that point, and after realizing that my tendency when Donald came home was to dote on him from the moment he came in the door to the moment we turned out the light to go to sleep, I knew that something needed to change. And keep in mind that Donald in no way requested that this be the way I operate. He has been wonderfully appreciative, but I think he was also starting to wonder where his independently-minded spouse had disappeared to.
So last night we chatted about my various roles, as wife, homemaker, and independent self. I have been having trouble feeling efficient since we moved here and I needed to have more structure to my days, so it made sense to list out my roles and the tasks that go with each and then construct my weekly schedule to accommodate all of them in a balanced manner.
(I also have to say, for someone who has never lived in a house with stairs, now that we have three floors, I have had a really hard time feeling efficient when what I need is always a floor up or down from where I am. How do you handle this? It seems so far away! I'm spending all of my time going up and down stairs instead of accomplishing something!)
This morning, I got up and made a list. One section was called "housewife" and the other section, for lack of a better word, was "me" (I don't have multiple personalities, really). Here's how it broke down:
- Cooking (meal planning, groceries)
- Clutter control, filing, organizing, troubleshooting
- Errands and online shopping
- Pet care
- Activity planning for evenings and weekends
- Home care (decorating, budgeting, paying bills, recycling, getting mail, etc.)
- Exercise routine (yoga, walks, cardio)
- Reading and writing
- Communicating, staying in touch, phone calls, Facebook, cards and gifts
- Career planning/networking
- Projects (scrapbooking, photo albums)
- Relaxing, playing games, puzzles, TV and movies
- Crocheting and knitting
- Personal care, health research
Then I opened up Outlook and starting with next week, put most of these items on the calendar, picking certain days for weekly activities (Tuesday is laundry day) and carving out special time for "me" activities like blogging and exercising. This way, there won't be any guilt, I'll have reminders about what I should be working on, and my productivity and satisfaction levels should go up because I will know that I'm making progress.
It also helps me identify how much time in a day I really have for things like volunteering so I know how committed I can be with new activities without compromising the things I'm already doing. It does get me wondering how I ever did anything useful when I was working full-time. Hopefully my plans to work from home will help me maintain some flexibility and will also be rewarding in its own right.
I have gotten distracted from the point of my post (clearly, showing all of you how OCD I am was necessary). This experience has shown me how easy it can be for me to put everyone else ahead of myself and how important it is for me to actually schedule time just for me in order for me to feel that I have permission to take a half hour to give myself a pedicure instead of detail cleaning the baseboards. This will be especially important as we move forward on having a family, and the better habits I can create now, the more likely it is that I'll continue them when we have another mouth to feed.
That's how it works, right?
How do you balance being an individual and being a wife or husband and/or mom or dad? How do you make time for you?