I’ve always been quite adamant that there is no such thing as a work/life balance. We just kind of sail along through the stress and anxiety and money worries and tantrums and meetings and deadlines, all the while doing our best to carve out as much happiness as we can for as long as we can. Yes having a sense of routine, a healthy diet, a good exercise schedule all helps us cope better. But this elusive sense of balance that we’re all supposed to magically strive for is a bit of an illusion.
On Monday I had a crazy day. I am struggling to put my finger on the exact event or moment that caused things to spiral, but by the time I got into bed and switched on my guided meditation, my sanity was in tatters. I feel like this is happening more frequently than ever before. I sat for a minute to think about this. Why am I suddenly feeling so overwhelmed? Is it the time of the year? Has my life gotten harder? I decided to jot down the blow by blow series of events that happen on average in my day. I thought perhaps there may be a few hidden clues. A map that leads back towards my sanity, maybe?
AN AVERAGE DAY IN THE LIFE OF US
05.07 Grace is crying. I’m pretending to be asleep in the hope that Regan gets up. He doesn’t.
05.16 Grace goes back to sleep but in our bed.
05.30 Alarm goes off. I briefly contemplate getting up and doing a workout. I hit snooze instead.
05.45 I drag my tired ass out of bed and make 2 cups of coffee
05.49 I try to wake Regan with the promise of freshly made coffee. He assures me that he’s awake and getting up. I go to the lounge to drink my coffee.
06.00 No sign of Regan. I head back to our room to wake him up. He’s up.
06.04 Grace wakes up because the bed is empty.
06.09 Grace starts nagging to watch Pepper Pig. She can’t actually talk but she aggressively gestures in the direction of the laptop while shouting “Pig daddy! Pig daddy!”
06.10 Regan goes off to take his daily 45-minute long shit with his phone.
06.15 I remember my coffee is still in the kitchen. I reheat it.
06.30 I finally get into the shower
06.45 I’m dressed for work. I head into the kitchen to pack all the bags and get ready to leave.
06.50 Regan gets into the shower.
07.00 Sophie wakes up.
07.00-07.20 Sophie cries to wear a dress even though it’s clearly pants weather
07.30 Regan’s out the bathroom and getting dressed. Sophie’s relented and agrees to wear the pants but refuses to dress.
07.35 Our nanny arrives
07.40 We’re all pretty much ready to leave.
07.41 Sophie needs to make a poo
07.59 We actually leave
08.05 We’re on the way. Sophie had a meltdown because her seat belt was “cutting into her face”.
08.20 I arrive at work and feel at peace for the first time since opening my eyes
08.20-16.00 I pretend like I’m not incredibly fucking exhausted and totally capable of doing my job
16.00-17.00 I sit in a meeting casually acting like I’m totally invested even though I’m in a flat panic internally because I’m 30 minutes late to let my nanny off and I know that this means she’ll only get home at 7 pm
17.16 On the way home
17.29 Arrive at home
17.40 Try to think about what to make for dinner. I put off the monthly grocery shop for so long I can no longer afford to do it so eating is a budget affair.
17.50 Message Regan a list for the shop because fuck going to pick n pay with 2 tired, naggy little monsters
18.00 Regan gets home and immediately we start supper.
18.20 We eat
19.30 Quite time before bed
20.30 I go into a total panic because I still need to send the action points from two meetings on and edit a report and clear my inbox. Oh shit, I also have to prepare for 2 meetings tomorrow and reply to someone who is waiting for urgent feedback.
22.59 Practically done with work. I consider maybe putting the rest off until tomorrow. Maybe we’ll be early for once?
23.34 Shit I forgot to take my anxiety meds. Will it fuck me up if I just take them now? OK, I’ll just miss today.
00.04 Should I listen to a guided meditation or read? I’m so tired I’m not sure it matters. I fall asleep and wake up when my phone painfully falls onto my face. I put my phone on the bedside table and go back to sleep. There’s a vague feeling of pain coming from the part of my cheek that connected with my phone.
03.22 Grace is crying…..
Sitting back and examining my day in this format actually leaves me feeling quite grateful that I have any sense of sanity left at all. I also know that most moms who read this will be able to relate quite strongly to it. Yes, this is my life as a working mom, but I am quite sure that many, many stay at home moms feel exactly like this too. Why? I think it all goes right back to that old chestnut about how we, as women, carry the mental load.
What’s that you say? No idea what the mental load is? Well, read this for an in-depth breakdown. The rub of it is that as women we are usually forced (by default) into the role of gatekeeper for all the things, all the information, all the care, and yes, all the stress that comes along with all those aforementioned responsibilities.
It’s too much and when you leave it unchecked (like I often do) it has the power to totally fray you down to the bone and you’ll be left in a similar version of my current state:
Crying on the couch with a migraine and an infected eye eating Nutella out the jar with your finger as a spoon because life just feels like the deep side of the ocean and you’d rather just sink than continue trying to tread water.