With all the activities that life with kids brings - sports, music lessons, scouting - along with all the other responsibilities of being an adult, life can seem to get out of hand at times. We run around multi-tasking our days while using every waking minute to get things done. But it never seems to be enough. There are always more tasks than hours in the day and more needs to be met than energy to keep up with. A deployment compounds this feeling, when the spouse left at home takes on the responsibilities of the deployed parent in addition to their prior responsibilities.
As a mother, I find myself wanting to fill up the days with kids' activities, errands, chores and other responsibilities to keep myself busy. It helps pass the time until my husband comes home. But at the same time, I'm running myself ragged. At the end of every day I fall into my bed completely exhausted and wishing things weren't so busy. It's a Catch-22...I want to stay busy but then I complain about how busy I am! I want my kids to be able to participate in every activity that their little hearts desire and be able to enjoy fun outings to help them stay positive while their dad is gone. I want to be super-mom and make sure everything is done at home without having to rely on the help of others. There's just not enough time to get it all done, let alone find time for myself! But something's gotta give...or I'm going to finally go crazy!
I've been wanting to get back into running, so I visited my doctor for a routine physical. When I mentioned to him that I had noticed my heart racing, or feeling like it skips a beat at times, he asked me if I had a lot of stress. I laughed out loud at that (which I don't think he appreciated). Stress is an understatement, but I feel like I've been handling it pretty well. While he said my heart sounded fine (good to know) he also gave me a few recommendations to prevent these occasional symptoms:
1. Don't take decongestants (easy enough there)
2. Reduce my stress (yeah, like that's going to happen anytime soon)
3. Get more rest (again, not going to happen soon)
4. Drink less caffeine (Oh come on! I need the caffeine to help with #2 and #3!)
As I sat laughing about his recommendations after I left, thinking how impossible it would be to follow them in my current situation. I tried to think of ways that I would reduce some of the unnecessary stress in my life. There are certain things that MUST be done - laundry, cooking, working, etc. - other things are self-imposed time consumers. Yes, I want my kids to be happy and fulfilled, but is this done by allowing them to participate in everything that they want to do, therefore filling up their days? And while I love having a clean house at all times, is it really that big of a deal if there is mail sitting on the counter or toys still on the floor? None of these things are really that important or will break us if we let them go for a while. What is really important to my kids is having a calm mother who has time to spend with them. And what is really important to me is not being exhausted all the time so I can spend that time with my kids.
So I guess I shouldn't have laughed so hard at my doctor because he really did have a good point. I need to find ways to cut back on our activity level so we have more time to spend together. In the end, this will benefit our whole family as we have that quality, relaxed time together. I also need to try to find time for just myself. At every event for spouses during this deployment, we have been told to make sure we have time to spend on ourselves. I always had the "yeah right" attitude about this, thinking that "me" time was selfish. But now I can see how that time is important for me to have quite time to re-energize and just have peace. Even if it's just a few minutes alone in the bathroom after we get home from school! "Me" time is not selfish and it is important for my sanity, which will definitely help me be a calmer, more relaxed mother. I think my kids will certainly appreciate this change!
So I'm working on cutting back on our schedule and really looking forward to the change. I'm looking forward spending more quality time with my kids, rather than trying to catch up on their day during the car ride to the next activity. And I'm really excited to get some "me" time to re-energize! I think this will make the rest of the deployment go smoothly and will help our transition back into family life be easier after my husband comes home. And maybe being a less stressed mom will actually make me more of a supermom...at least to my kids!
What are some ways that you find "me" time while your spouse is deployed? How do you try to keep things less stressful at home?