The Almost Empty Nester: Living Off The Clock

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Living Off The Clock

It's been an interesting few weeks. In a nutshell, I went to see a new doctor about my anxiety and she diagnosed me with exhaustion. After listening to me talk about my life and my symptoms she said, "You're Type-A and you're tired." Both are very true.

Teen years are busy. I know, I know. Duh. I came home from the doctor's appointment and thought about what needed to change in my life to add some zen and delete some stress. But that's tough with three kids, a house to run, and books to write. I did purge quite a bit of social media from my life, a change that has surprisingly positive outcomes. I have way more time in a day, I'm calmer, and I don't spend all my emotional armies on stuff I just don't need to. 

I was talking with a friend the other day about how we moms are always "on the clock." Our lives consistently function on when kids needs to be at school, practice, events, picked up from school... The list is endless. We can feel and be in a hurry all the time. I noticed in my evaluation of my life and schedule that when I put To Do items on my calendar, a set time has to be chosen. I'd find myself daily at that specific time looking at my calendar going, "Ugh! I can't do that right now. I'm still working on the last thing." So, I got a To Do list app where any item without a time limit goes there and any appointments or things with a set time go on my calendar. It's unreal how much freer I feel when I look at my calendar. My day is doable. And I'm not hurried. Yes, I still have appointments and places to be at set times, but I'm not always rushing.

I read an article the other day in Reader's Digest about how we weren't always a society that ran by clocks. We trusted the sun and the moon and we got up and did our day. We didn't have 200 emails in our inbox or texting or all the "stuff" we have now. The article talked about how we mentally gage our day by if we've cleaned out of email inbox or not. We feel so accomplished when it's empty. And yet, because we sent those messages out, it's just going to fill up again. It's a vicious cycle that has no end. No finish line. The To Do list is never done for the day. Personally, along with purging social media, I've taken all notifications off my phone. I don't see (or hear a ding) every time any kind of message comes through. It's pure heaven. When I have time, I check email. If I don't, the world won't end. Life will keep going. The inbox will be there.

The last two days I noticed that I hardly looked at my watch as I went through my day. And it was fantastic. The pace of my day was steady and even. No stress. Yes, an enormous contributing factor is that my daughter drives so I don't have anyone to take to school or pick up right now. But parenting flows in seasons. This will not always be. I will be on a clock more again when she goes to college and the boys need a ride. But then they will be old enough to drive and that season will begin. 

I guess what I'm learning to embrace is the season I am in. I've been on the treadmill of mom life for seventeen years. I only know one setting - fast. And it never stops. That's not entirely the case anymore. My children leaving and growing up and becoming adults is so incredibly bitter sweet. Bitter that they don't need me on that treadmill so much. Sweet that...well, I don't need to be on that treadmill so much anymore.

In this current season, I'm embracing living off the clock more. Not every day is that way, but many are, and in all honesty, it's nice. I'm enjoying being instead of doing. A tough thing for us moms but...well, doable. 

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