Her return means that we lose our childcare for both of my youngest and help with the school run. It also means that we have to adjust our routines to accommodate the things she helped with. making life a bit more challenging for both myself and my husband.
Her leaving left me a little stressed and anxious and as always my response to that is to look inwards and ask “What really matters?”, “Should we carry on as we are?”, “Do we have to?”. That makes me sound very philosophical and wise – but actually I didn’t jump from feeling anxious to getting straight to the serious questions. As always with me, there is a little journey in between that requires me to go round in circles, chasing my tail in my mind, making myself dizzy and bumping into something that makes me stop and think.
This time round it was a very nice colleague of mine at work, who also happens to be a good friend. She asked me why I was worrying about everything and trying to understand everything even when it was not my concern. She also noticed I was on my phone every few minutes, checking e-mails, whatsapps and random news stories when I was already on information overload mode as it is.
She had a point. I realised I wanted to do everything, to keep my finger in every pie, to not miss any opportunity or bit of important news. When in reality all of this is leading to achieving nothing. I feel bombarded by video’s that go viral, news that doesn’t differentiate between important and pointless fluff, constant streams of marketing e-mails promising to sort out my finances, make me rich, help me to find my purpose and get fit – if I just sign up, attend the webinar or download the free pdf.
I miss crafting, art, reading and writing. I miss feeling as if I am living well and getting things done. Being a mum of five and working four days is plenty of work, but in reality I have let time stealers such as social media, e-mail and Netflix sneak into my life in the chinks of free time.
I wondered if I needed to cut through all of the rubbish and focus (my word for 2014), as I can be very scatty and have a terrible concentration (my sisters will tell you I stop listening and wonder off mid-conversation). Or maybe I needed to be disciplined (my word for 2013 funnily enough) in the way I spend my time.
My lovely (if sometimes mean but with good intentions!) friend suggested that instead I needed to find balance. I am starting to admit she is right. There is no point in picking twenty things and trying to be disciplined and focus on getting them all done. I think the step to take is one well before that, which requires me to find a balance between the different parts of my life. So being 100% present with my husband and children, putting away my phone or book and being completely absorbed in them, but then being quite clear and selfish about my own time and not feeling guilty for doing things for myself and letting the children occupy themselves.
I feel like I have been here many times before. I suppose that’s what life is about – you find balance, something comes along to throw you off, or the circumstances of your life change drastically and to assuage the anxiety and chaos, you strive to find balance again.
So I am currently unsubscribing from most things in my inbox with the reminder to myself that its all just marketing that aims to create an anxiety in you and then offer to take your money away when you sign up to stuff. In reality I know for sure that the answer to your anxieties is almost never out there, but within you. I am preparing for a tech detox (i.e. get that damned smartphone out of sight!!), making the decision to keep off social media or have a controlled time for it (i.e. 15 minutes a day or week). I am signing out of Netflix and trying to think about when downtime should be and for how long. Most of all I am writing again, every morning if I can. Whenever I get my writing done, I feel as if everything else in life - children, housework, guests, work, it all becomes pleasurable. The resentment at the back of my mind disappears and I approach all of these things feeling light, positive and happy to do them, rather then desperate to get them out of the way so that I can do something else.
How do you find balance in your life?
How do you deal with the feeling of being bombarded by information and news 24 hours a day from every direction?
What questions would you ask yourself to guide you back to a more harmonious place?
What examples from the life of our beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) and his Companions (RA) have you found fruitful in finding balance in your life?