I’ve noticed that in life there is a pressure to always be seen as busy with things we have to do. There is a pressure to only talk about how much we have on our to-do list related to work life, errands, and necessary projects around the home. Never to make time to do things we would actually find fun.
I’ve noticed this pressure since I entered the working world. The pressure is to be the one that is the most overwhelmed and works the longest hours. Once I became a mom in October 2014, the pressure for constant busy-ness and craziness became even more of a burden. I didn’t think that was possible.
Life is certainly hard and busy-ness and craziness are definitely valid states we find ourselves in. After having a baby, buying a house, and planning a wedding while having a full time job, I’ve had days on end filled with a tedious and insurmountable agenda. I’ve had days where I’ve literally had to be two places at once while being a mom to an infant. On those days, I don’t think I stop moving from the time I wake up until the time I crash on the couch around 11 pm to maybe catch a bit of TV while I fold laundry. Those are the days where I use my “relaxation” time to catch up on even more tasks.
But life isn’t always like that, and I want people to feel just as proud talking about their free time as they do talking about their hard and busy weeks! I’ve had those 16 hour days, but I’ve also had weekends with plenty of time to catch up with friends, go shopping, go for a long walk, or read a book.
During conversations with acquaintances, we often sweep aside discussions about how we enjoyed our free time. We think that if this other person sees that we aren’t always working (whether it’s at the office or as a stay-at-home mom) we’ll be seen as lazy. So we pretend like those fun hours never existed. Or, we have time to have some fun but instead choose to use it being busy because that’s what we feel we should do. We do this with our close friends as well as our acquaintances; because if they talked about how terrible their task-filled weekend was, we don’t want to be the person who spent it reading US Weekly by the pool. Then they are the workhorse while we’re being pampered. We feel lame and unimportant.
This may make me unpopular, but I’m convinced, with some exceptions, that we aren’t always as busy as we make it seem. We frequently are so, so overwhelmed with all the pressures that life throws at us, but it’s not a constant state—instead it ebbs and flows.
I’m convinced of this because of the long wait for a table at Red’s Alehouse on a Friday night. Because of the partner yoga or wine and yoga classes that are booked on weekdays. Because of the crowded flea markets and craft fairs I like to attend. Because I can never get a good treadmill at the gym after work. Because of how many people I know that like to watch The Bachelor. And my Facebook and Instagram newsfeeds that have constant activity.
It looks like there are a lot of us out there having fun and enjoying our hobbies. By not talking about these interests we have and things we do we’re hurting each other and ourselves. Our humble-brags perpetuate the pressure to keep humble-bragging when we should be supporting each other’s interests and each other’s struggles. There are plenty of long, hard days but there are plenty of amazing, excellent parts to life too—let’s celebrate those moments and let’s be proud of them!
When someone talks about their task-filled weekend when we were at the pool, we should offer sympathy and support instead of feeling the need to commiserate. Instead of using the conversation as an opportunity to talk about why we we’re busy too, we should tell them that we feel for them. We should let them have the opportunity to have a listening ear for a venting session about being overwhelmed and stressed. We’d want them to provide the same support after one of our rough weeks.
I’ve read a lot of research and studies online about how constant work will lead to a burnout. Why would we want to do this to ourselves? And, if pre-burnout, we worked as constantly as we said we did, we wouldn’t have time for haircuts, bill-paying, or keeping food in our refrigerator. We’d be bedraggled, frumpy, and starving.
In the 16 months since my daughter Kate was born, I’ve been amazed at the level of pressure moms put on themselves to be frenzied. When I got pregnant, I was actually looking forward to maternity leave because I thought it would be a “vacation.” I’ll be the first to admit that I was so, so, so wrong and I’m surprised no one laughed at me. Instead, the first couple of months were a blur of constant feeding that left me feeling like I couldn’t stray too far from my house.
Amongst that blur though, I carved out time to enjoy Halloween and Thanksgiving. I made time to eat lunch with friends and to get back to the gym. I think it kept me sane.
Now that Kate’s a toddler, we’re on a much more consistent schedule. The free-flowing newborn days and infant feeding don’t keep us tied to the house, so I have more free time to enjoy. And Kate’s at a point where, if she’s in a good mood, she makes a great shopping companion. There are still days that are hectic. Since its cold and flu season, she’s ending up with a lot of pediatrician appointments. We still have some rough, sleepless nights. I spend a lot of time picking platefuls of food off the floor. But why should I feel ashamed of that post-newborn free time instead of overjoyed? I love the afternoons I can spend at garage sales and flea markets. I love when I get the chance to see a movie or watch a Hawkeye game. I’m going to celebrate those moments—because in a few weeks my graduate classes will start again and I want to take all the free time I can get!
What are your favorite things to do in your free time?! How do you avoid burnout in the midst of the craziness of life? Please share!
Special thanks to our Guest Blogger, Brigette Marshall. About Brigette: Brigette Marshall lives in North Liberty with her husband Brian, sassy 1-year-old daughter Kate, and 2 cats—Penny and Olive. She works in project management, volunteers at the Core Fitness Kids Club, and enjoys trying to catch up on her reading list, getting out for a run, and exploring the Iowa City area with her husband and friends.