Last year was the year I started every email with “I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to you— I’ve been swamped!” After you write that for the 50th time, especially to the same person, it begins to feel like you’ve got a bigger problem on your hands.
My excuse for being so behind and forgetful about everything was that I was writing my book. And before I was writing my book, I had the stress of knowing I had to write my book. This on top of everything else I was already doing for the blog, which seems to continually increase each month.
Stress has been a big part of my life this past year. I always say it’s a good kind of stress because it means my business is doing well and I have a lot going on. But then you add that to parenting two girls with drop-offs and pick-ups and doctor appointments and after school activities and playdates and birthday parties and family gatherings and babysitting coordination and the logistics can make your mind swim at night when what you really need is to just get some sleep.
Add one thing, like buying Mazzy a new gymnastics leotard or getting Harlow a haircut or needing to renew my contacts and it blows the whole delicate work/life balance to pieces.
When I finished writing my book (or at least the first draft), the respite I was expecting as I awaited edits didn’t quite happen. Instead it was Harlow’s birthday and then Mazzy’s birthday and Hanukah and finishing up all the Mommy Shorts business of 2015. I still haven’t written Harlow or Mazzy’s thank you cards yet which is driving me bonkers because I have no idea when I will find time to do it. And beyond it being a bad reflection on myself, I think not prioritizing thank you cards sets a bad example for my kids… so I have to carve out the time somewhere.
I finally decided I would wait until the holidays were over and everything got manageable again, but then I got an email from my editor saying she would send me her edits the second week of January. It was a good email— she loves the book and is excited to show me design and cover options. But it’s also a reminder that I shouldn’t really expect a break.
Mike tells me it’s not healthy to constantly have my brain working at 500 mph and I usually tell him that’s just how I’m wired. I don’t shut off ever. I’m constantly thinking of new ideas and all the things I should be doing or need to improve upon. Sometimes it’s fun to think about these things but sometimes it throws me into a panic because I know I don’t have the bandwidth to get it all done.
And if I’m constantly worried about all the things I have to do, how does that effect my time with my family?
Recently Aetna asked me to look at what causes stress in my life, because stress can have damaging effects on your health and reducing stress can boost your well-being. This got me thinking about how being overwhelmed all the time stops me from being present in the moment.
“Being present” is a topic that has come up a lot recently with Mike as he sees me focus more of my attention on taking photos and videos of family activities instead of really experiencing them. I love taking photos of my girls and I want to preserve all the special moments I see around me, but when it’s wrapped up in presenting my life on social media, I understand there has to be more of a balance.
One of my main goals for next year is to find a way to separate my business and my family a bit. It’s a weird dilemma because a lot of my business is writing about my family, but I think I need to spend more time with the kids that isn’t about capturing it for the blog.
Turn it off for a night. Just enjoy myself. Take in my girls. And be present.
It’s hard to imagine stopping stress completely, but maybe I can let it go just for the moment.
This post was sponsored by Aetna, who believes health is about the body and the mind. Stress can affect emotional and physical health, and reducing stress can boost wellbeing. As part of their #Mindful30 challenge, the views and opinions expressed in my post on the topic of mindfulness are my own, not Aetna’s. To learn more about stress mindfulness, visit aetnamindfulness.com.