I have established that I am exhausted. But what do I do now? No matter how tired I am of my situation, running away to a tropical island and drinking virgin piña coladas is not an option. As much as I don’t get along with my mother – there is nothing I can do about the situation for at least two-and-a-half years. 2022 will get here eventually, until then, I just have to do what I have to do.
Two Tears in a Bucket… Motherf**k It.
The first thing I do is allow myself to feel how I feel. When things are hard it sucks and I am allowed to feel how I feel. There are two sides to every pancake (and the truth is usually somewhere in the middle) and I’m sure my mom has valid complaints about living with me too. Her valid feelings do not discredit mine. So, I am going to cry a few tears and acknowledge it. Then, I’m gonna suck it up – and make a plan.
A number of years ago when my best friend was going through a hard divorce, she asked me how she was supposed to make it as a single mom. I told her that she could do anything with a plan. Now whenever I am weeping, wailing and gnashing my teeth about how unfair life is, she gives me my own advice. And she’s right. You can do anything with a plan. A plan simply gives you a path to start on. Sooner or later, the plan will have to change to account for unseen complications or changes, but you still started and got yourself on the road to something better.
List Your Priorities, Fit Them Into a Schedule, Then Simplify.
Saturday is literally the only day I have to get stuff done. Monday – Friday, I have around 3 hours after work before I go to bed. Sunday is the Lord’s day – and it has been set aside for serving my family, those in need, and for worshipping God. So… I have Saturday. This means that I do not have room for distractions or complications.
What is important to me? What MUST I do.
- Get 8 hours of sleep.
Can I get along without 8 hours of sleep? Yes. Is it good for me and do I honestly function as well on less? No. Most of the time I can get by pretty well, but I do find that it really keeps me from being at my best.
- Sh*t, Shower, & Shave. Self-care is really important and I am VERY bad at it. When I have to rob Peter to pay Paul because I’m late or didn’t plan well – self-care is where I rob myself. This is a very bad thing and I find that when I am not taking care of personal hygiene, I am far from being at my best. 15 minutes. I don’t need to put on makeup, I just need to be clean and feel good about myself.
- Work. I love my job. But I don’t really wanna go in and do it when I could be crafting, cooking, or doing other activities. Alas, it is a necessity. A big one. It allows me to do what I need to do in every other faction of my life. When I used to get bad grades in school, my dad would lecture me that it was just as easy to get good grades as it was to get bad grades. Easier, even. This is true about work. It is easier to set aside the time needed to go to work and get paid than it is to scrounge and struggle to survive. So, you gotta set aside time for work. Right now, for me, this is a 1-hour commute to work, 9 hours (including lunch) at work, and another 1 hour (or longer, depending on traffic) commute home. So, 11 hours for work, 5 days a week. Minimum.
- Scripture Study. Studying the scriptures is a cathartic activity that helps me charge my spirit.
- Pre-Scripture Prayer – I pray and ask for the gift of understanding so that I may know what I’m reading. If I have something I’m struggling with or a blessing I need, I’ll ask for guidance in my study relating to that. We’re talking a super short prayer. 5 minutes, at max.
- Scripture Study – 15-30 minutes. Usually just 1 chapter. Sometimes more if the chapters are short, or I feel the need for more.
- Morning Prayer – This is my actual prayer, where I give thanks and ask for blessings for my family, friends and myself. 5-10 minutes.
- Working Out. If I want to be mentally and physically healthy – I need at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise in a day, usually more (up to 1 hour) and I keep trying to add weight training in. This is 7 days a week, although Sunday is just a day where I take my dog on a 3-5 mile walk before church.
- Family Scripture Study. Yeah, I know – more scripture study. We are studying the New Testament this year and so we read about a chapter a week as a family and discuss the doctrine that is being taught. Tonight we read 2 chapters because they were short. Ephesians 3 & 4. About 30 minutes
These are just the things that I must do daily to be at my best. Other than work, but that is a non-negotiable 5 days a week and I must block out that time. So it counts. There are once or twice-a-week habits that I need to do, but we can wedge those in when we have open spaces. These are my ride or die behaviors. And as you can see, Monday through Friday, I’m at around 20 hours of mandatory time (sleep included). Saturday, I have 10 mandatory hours and Sunday 12 (including 2 hours of church). Out of 168 hours a week, I use 122 hours for non-negotiable tasks and I’m left with 46 hours to get all the other must-do’s done. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but it is a full work week of hours, but… you gotta be organized and you gotta be realistic.
There are weeks… more often than not… that my house is a barely contained disaster zone. Shoes on the floor in the middle of the living room, mail piled on the corner of the piano, and the thousands of cups my kids leave on the kitchen bar area. They are clean, but they just don’t get put away.
Does this make me happy? No. I hate it. It stresses me out.
Will I cause World War III over it? No. I have other priorities. With 14 hours on a Saturday, which the day I have to get most of my extra stuff done, my priority is not screaming at my 15-year-old to put his stuffed porg away.
Evaluate, Then Reassess … Over and Over Again
I was doing freaking awesome at this a year ago. Really freaking awesome. Last winter, I decided to use my lunch break to walk around and around my work building until I had to go back in. Then, I’d go in at the door by the cafe – pick up my lunch which I ordered on the website before lunch, and head back and eat lunch while I worked. Soon, the walk wasn’t enough and I started going to the little gym and walking on the treadmill, then using the elliptical… then I joined a gym.
And somehow, just going for a lunch walk started me reading my scriptures more, and sleeping better, and taking better physical care of my hygiene, and I worked better too.
I kept going until I had an injury. And that for some reason, even though I desperately wanted to be working out… everything else stopped too. And here I am 15 pounds heavier, and in pretty bad physical health. I did finish the scriptures again, but there was a 3 month period where I didn’t read at all. I failed. But I can always go again.
And so tonight, at 11:18 pm (not getting 8 hours of sleep tonight), I’m re-evaluating how to make my schedule work for me and then I will push ahead and start again.
How Do I Lay Out My Day?
Pick an event that starts at the same time every day. For me, that’s work. 7 AM – 4PM
For example, I start work at 7 AM. It takes an hour to get there (in good traffic) and so, I have to leave no later than 6 AM. I am very quick at getting ready if I have my clothes laid out and my stuff ready to go. So I must get up no later than 5:30 AM. If I want to read before I get up, I have to be awake at 5 AM so I can do scripture study. If I want to work-out before I leave for work, I have to be up and working out no later than 4:30 AM, so up at 4:15 AM. My gym doesn’t open until 5AM – so do I want to cancel the gym and use the treadmill at work to walk on (pretty much the only thing available at the work “gym”) or do I want to read scriptures at 4:15 AM, leave the house and drive to the gym and then workout and leave for work from the gym? No matter what, I have to be up no later than 4:15 AM. This variability is one of the things that I adjust if I don’t like how my schedule is going.
Eight hours before my wake-up time is 8:15 PM. That means to get 8 hours of sleep, I have to be in bed and falling asleep at 8:15 PM. I am a serious insomniac and so I have to take a sleep aid to get the sleep I need. It takes 90 minutes to kick in. So, 6:45 PM is when I have to take my sleeping pill. I get home from work around 5-5:30. So, dinner is no later than 6PM, I have to immediately after dinner make sure my clothes are set out and that I’m ready for the next morning. Then we read family scriptures. Finally I have whatever time is left to work on a blog post, watch some Hulu, or read a book.
That is my weekday schedule.
Friday night, I usually plan out my meals for the week. My mom cooks Monday – Friday so I don’t have to. But Saturday and Sunday I like to make a meal that my family wants. And I make lunches to bring to work (saves money!) each week and vacuum seal them in my chamber vac. After planning what my 5 days of lunches will be and what I’m making for dinner – I order my groceries online and schedule to pick them up the next day, as early in the morning as possible.
After the temple, every Saturday morning I drive and get my groceries brought out to my car. Where was this service when my children were little! It would have been such a lifesaver for me then. Then, I run any other chores that I need – Home Depot, baking stores, etc. When I get home I cook all the meals. Sous vide cooking is a lifesaver for me. Once it is in an anaerobic environment and pasteurized, as long as I don’t open the bags – my meals are going to last much longer than traditional meals.
Laundry and other chores around the house come through and time with my family. My husband works with me, but we both want to spend as much time with our teenage boys as possible. I do laundry, try to clean up the house, or craft. Kevin & I try to attend the temple once a week. That’s 3 hours out of our Saturday. I recently started getting raw milk from a local farm co-op and started making sous vide cheeses. 2020 is definitely going to be the year I make my first cheese wheel. Every Saturday I make 4 loaves of fresh bread and usually a treat for the kids I teach at church. This week I’m making mini-pumpkin pies! I generally get to bed a lot later than I should on Saturdays. I gotta not do that.
Most Sundays we are either at home spending time as a family, at Kevin’s family’s house spending time as a family, or sitting quietly and reflecting on the Sabbath. I’m starting a new topical scripture study method doing deep dives into a subject using the scriptures and other references to help me better understand a topic I want to learn about.
In the End… It is What Works For You
This method of adding everything to a calendar may not work for you. Some people sear by planners, others do better when they go by the seat of their pants. This is what works for me. And now that I’ve used this blog post to re-evaluate… I will go and do. And I will report back. (BTW- there is a recipe coming this weekend, I swear!)