Time to Slow Down

It’s no secret that Ben and I are super busy.  Between weddings, birthdays, whirlwind vacations, and family reunions, we rarely get a weekend off, especially during the summer.  We often joke about how “awful” it is to have friends and family who want to hang out all the time, because it results in very little free time for us.

As we were driving home from the family reunion on Sunday, Ben turned to me and said “Do you feel like we’ve just been PLOWING away endlessly for months?”  I reflected for a moment, and said, “Well, we kind of have.”  First we moved back to Vermont last August, which was hugely stressful–we had a brush with bed bugs right before we moved, and had to put pretty much all of our belongings other than clothes into storage after treatment.  We were living in his parents’ basement with no jobs and no money, job searching and interviewing constantly.  Then he got a job, and a week later I got a temp job.  We were borrowing cars from friends and family to commute 40 minutes each way to work.  We were re-connecting with our Vermont social circles.  Re-visiting our favorite haunts.  Traveling back to Boston for parties and events.  Finding an apartment.  House-sitting for extra income.  I began training for my half marathon.  Then came summer and pick-up games and weddings and vacations and reunions…

Our most recent wedding weekend in beautiful VT

Our most recent wedding weekend in beautiful VT

It’s fun and exciting to travel, to be invited to parties, to go to concerts.  You say yes and yes and yes without really thinking about the timing and the cost, and before you know it, you’ve blown $300 in a weekend and you haven’t been home for more than 4 straight nights in months.  You can’t remember the last Friday night you just sat at home with a bottle of wine and Netflix.  And while all of these activities are fun, and you don’t want to miss out on anything, it’s also EXHAUSTING and pretty much impossible to maintain.  I think we’ve finally reached a breaking point.

We’re physically and mentally tired all the time.  When we do have a night or weekend off, we just sit around like zombies because we’re exhausted and burned out.  We don’t ever have time or energy for the day-to-day minutiae of things like dishes, cleaning the litter box, and changing the fish’s water.  We don’t “hang out” together–we come home from work, eat, watch TV, and go to bed.  We don’t get to do spontaneous things like hike Mt. Mansfield or go to the beach because when we’re not scheduled for a social event or trip, we’re bogged down with housework and grocery shopping.  And it sucks.

My friend Mike posted a few weeks ago about “Slowing the F%$* Down,” and I think it’s time Ben and I took his advice.  We had a long, honest talk on Sunday night about how all of our activities make us feel, and how to approach our joint schedule going forward.  We’re scheduled pretty much continuously through mid-August (back to back wedding weekends in CT and ME and then a house-sitting gig), and after that we want to be much more mindful about what we commit ourselves to.  We came up with a few criteria to help us in our decision-making process:

  • Do we want to do it?  Isn’t it amazing how often you get roped into things you don’t really want to do?  We need to be really honest with ourselves about how we feel and what we want to do with our time.  Granted, sometimes we don’t really have a choice (case in point: my mom’s 60th birthday dinner which requires 3 hours driving round trip on a work night), but when we have a choice, we really need to evaluate our priorities.
  • Can we afford to do it?  This is an important question that we often forget to ask ourselves.  Our friends are getting married?  Heck yeah, we’re going to the wedding!  But then it’s time off from work, gift, hotel room, booze, and gas money and before we know it that wedding weekend has totally drained our fun budget for the next month.  It sucks saying no to things, but we can’t keep borrowing from our savings to cover impulsive spending.
  • What else is happening?  So often, we commit ourselves to an event only to realize that we already have a commitment or three that same week.  We schedule ourselves for back-to-back-to-back weekends out of town and don’t get any time at home.  We need to be much more aware of the big picture schedule before committing to things.  We need to keep our calendar up to date and actually look at it.   When you commit yourself to a lot of things, you can easily lose track of things.  It’s happened to us a couple of times recently, and trust me, double booking yourself is no fun.  We need to be better about putting things on our calendar as they come up, and actually look at the calendar on a regular basis so we don’t forget things, and to keep the big picture in mind.

Basically, we need to be a lot more mindful.  It’s easy to get caught up in the idea of fun activities, but at present it feels like we’re sacrificing our mental and physical (hello, no sleep) well-being for fear of missing out on something.  Yeah, it might stink to miss out on a party or camping weekend once in a while, but right now we’re missing out on a lot of other things, like spending time on our relationship, and taking care of ourselves and each other.

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by your social life?

How do you manage your calendar?

15 thoughts on “Time to Slow Down

  1. prairieprincessrunners says:

    I constantly feel overwhelmed by my social life…especially since I travel a lot for work during the week–so ALL of my house work/errands and social times happen on the weekend.

    As for how to manage it, I have no idea. I go through stages where I am good at saying no to people and others when I’m not (case in point next week–I have four activities on the week nights alone, my half training, plus a baptism, cupcakes to bake for the baptism, a race and a sunday night social event). I am purposely hiding out for the first two weeks of August to “recover” from the craziness. That is the only way I can sorta keep things in balance. Sometimes I’ve even told people that I’m out of town, when I’m not…lol.

    • DarlinRae says:

      Oh my gosh, it sounds like you might even be busier than I am! I feel so lucky that I don’t have to travel for work, because if I did, I would seriously never survive.

      I hope you get to rest and recharge during your travel break in August–you need to get your strength up for all the races!!!

  2. dgobs says:

    Ohhh boy I feel you on this! Between my races, Drew’s soccer and softball games, run club activities, Drew’s game nights with his buddies, weddings, showers, work and long commutes, trying to squeeze in visits with family who all live at least an hour away… it’s exhausting. The nights we’re home we zone out in front of the TV. Chores don’t get done unless someone’s coming to visit, we grab just enough groceries for dinner that night and don’t plan ahead very often… yeah. It’s too much. Kudos for talking it over and making the conscious decision to slow down! We probably need to do that too… especially since I don’t really manage my calendar other than adding random things to the calendar app on my phone 😦

    • DarlinRae says:

      It’s really hard to balance two people’s schedules. Ben has his own stuff and I have my own stuff, and then we have joint stuff… It gets totally whacko sometimes. Having a physical calendar where you can put everything and see it together is really helpful!

  3. greenmountainlife says:

    Completely understand all of this! I used to work for the same company as the boyfriend and we had pretty similar schedules both at work and socially but then I got this new job and it’s amazing how much more difficult it has been to balance. I’m so bad at saying no to things too, even a “let’s get a beer after work” invite to me is like oh man but I had 7 errands to run after work, what do I do?? I definitely tell friends that I am working late/at the part time gig to avoid saying no if I know I really need some time to myself.

    • DarlinRae says:

      I haven’t tried that trick before–I usually go with, “Oh, I have to run tomorrow, so no beer tonight.” Blaming it on work sounds much more legit 😉

  4. txa1265 says:

    Thanks for the shout-out … and it is SO TRUE! I honestly think it is harder at your age because there are SO MANY weddings and so on … I remember those days well! Now we at most are going to one a year, and quite often they are for older folks and more casual.

    I also think it is harder at your age to set boundaries because so many people either directly or indirectly impose the ‘you have no kids’ thing and therefore pretty much assume you have infinite flexibility. Ugh – I hated that, but then there was guilt if you said ‘no, we’re going to sit home in our PJs all weekend and eat ice cream and drink wine and watch crap TV’.

    It is really hard to give yourself permission to focus on just you. But sometimes you really need to do just that as a person and a couple.

  5. SuzLyfe says:

    This has been happening to us on and off for the past year or so–It’s funny, because if you think about it, essentially that’s how it was when you were in school (never ending tests and such) but now that you aren’t in school, it really sticks out at you because you don’t get that summer break.
    Alex and I seem to have nonstop months May->July each year. And then September/October. But this and last year, with vacation/anniversary/friends/new job this year and graduation/moving/wedding/honeymoon/moving/new job last year, it gets to the point that you feel you can’t catch your breath.
    And then, when you do? You feel so overwhelmed and underwhelmed at the same time. Or at least that’s what happens to me! I so agree with the sentiment to allow yourselves to focus on just you individually and as a couple. Alex and I are taking a little getaway next weekend, and just getting OUT.

    • DarlinRae says:

      “..overwhelmed and underwhelmed at the same time.”<—EXACTLY! It's like, is this really my life now? I can't even remember the last time we went on a date night. I miss date night!

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