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?