This year in my professional career, my ultimate goal is to work more efficiently and to think outside of the box, while balancing this beautiful and crazy life. Last year I found myself complaining a lot about my commute, the lack of boundaries that had been created, and how under appreciated I felt. I did a lot of complaining last year and those feelings permeated a number of areas of my life. Moving into this year, I want to face the areas that caused stress last year, to turn complaints into catalysts for change, and to create realistic and healthy behaviors.
Creating a healthier work week routine is important to me. Since having Magnolia and returning to work after maternity leave, our work weeks have run like clockwork, well, for the most part. I wake up, go to the gym, get home and get myself ready, get Magnolia ready for the day, put on an episode of Curious George for Magnolia while I make myself breakfast and pack, eat breakfast (usually in the car), load up the car, and leave for daycare by 7:15AM. I drive 20 minutes to daycare, drive 1 hour to work, arrive at work around 8:30AM depending on traffic, work 8 hours (rarely using/taking a lunch break – my own doing), leave work at 4:30PM, drive 1 hour to daycare (1.5 hours if there is traffic), drive 25 minutes home, arrive home around 6 or 6:30PM and unload the car, make our family dinner, eat dinner as a family, clean up the kitchen while Magnolia and Neal play, start Magnolia’s bedtime routine, and put Magnolia to bed by 8PM. After Magnolia goes to bed I either go to sleep (hello first trimester) or in my less sleepy days I would blog, clean the house, watch TV with Neal, talk to family, etc, trying to hit the hay by 10:30PM.
What I’ve had to learn and accept is that this is our routine. I can make aspects of this routine healthier, which I am going to talk about, but this is our routine. Having talked to a number of moms who go into an office or work out of their home or watch their children during business hours, aka ALL MOMS, it’s so easy for us to want a different routine or lifestyle. The work week/school week is hectic, no matter your routine! Of course, there is plenty to be happy about and every woman I’ve talked to shares those joys, but there is always something a woman or mom wants to change about their work week routine or lifestyle.
Focusing on how much stress the work week causes or how hectic those days are doesn’t lead to change, it just leads to complaining and dissatisfaction. I’ve had to look at my work week for exactly what it currently is and to accept the things I choose not to change and the things I can change.
Things I Choose Not to Change
-Where I work (downtown DC)
-Where I live (upper Montgomery County)
-Where Magnolia goes to daycare (20 minutes from our house)
-My commute (1.5 hours each way usually)
Things I Can Change
-Bringing work home with me (extending the 8 hour work day)
-How I spend my commute each way
-How I use my personal time (lunch break and time after Magnolia goes to bed)
-When I work out and how often I work out
-When I go to bed and when I wake up
-How I fuel my body for the day
-The way I spend my limited time with Neal and Magnolia each night
-How I use the weekend to recharge for the week ahead
Overall, I’m pretty happy with my habits around sleep, my workouts, and how I am fueling my body. Sure they are a work in progress, but I’m really proud of the habits I’ve created these past few years and how I’m currently feeling and doing. As for my commute, a while back I talked about ways of making the most out of my commute and for the most part, I do just that. I sing with Magnolia, talk to family and friends, listen to books from Audible, listen to podcasts, jam out to my favorite songs, etc. I make the most of those 3 hours, best I can, and at this point, there just isn’t anything I can do about my commute.
The two things I am determined to change is how I spend my time with my family after work and the boundaries I create with work. It has only been a few weeks, but I’ve implemented a things things that I hope will become habit. The first, and probably biggest change I’ve made, is that I am no longer bringing my work laptop home with me. Sure, I can check my work e-mail from my phone and can access most things from any computer, but I am not allowing myself to do it. In the past, I’ve spent anywhere from 2-5 hours each evening answering e-mails and working on projects after Magnolia goes to bed and I am determined to maximize my time in the office, to block off time in my work day to answer e-mails and to work on projects between meetings, and to leave work and work. Of course, there will be times when I will need to work outside of my 8 hours, but I am working to create a lifestyle in which those are limited to those high volume times of year. I won’t deny it, it has been hard. Even today, I left with 4 large tasks I really want to have done today and a big part of me just wants to crank them out before I go to bed. Instead, I made an awesome dinner, spent lots of time with Neal and Magnolia, headed to my office to blog, and plan on watching This Is Us. I know I can get everything done tomorrow and that it’s ok to not bring work home that doesn’t need to be brought home.
Along the same lines, I am working hard to block off my calendar for lunch breaks. I’m pretty sure I say I’m going to do this every semester, but I’m really trying. I’m thinking about taking spin every Thursday over lunch, plan on having lunch with co-workers more often, and have thought of other ways of getting away from my desk during that time. It just needs to become habit and trust me, there’s plenty of ways I can use that unpaid hour each day!
Lastly, I am working hard to put away my phone at night, to make the most of my time with my family, to try out new dinner recipes, and to spend more quality time with Neal during the work week. I won’t deny spending hours on my phone scrolling through Instagram, reading Facebook posts, and catching up on blogs. What I’ve realized is that I waste a lot of time on my phone and it takes away from time I should be spending with my family. Late last fall, Neal and I collectively decided to have me go back to my regular work schedule and to do pick up and drop off every day. In the fall, I was working Tuesday and Thursdays from 8AM-7PM and then had every other Friday off. Although I will miss having that flex day, I know that the traditional schedule is better for our family and is healthier as I move further into this pregnancy. Leaving work at 4:30PM each day, which I have to in order to get to daycare before they close, gives me a good amount of time with Magnolia before she goes to bed at 8PM and definitely gives Neal and I plenty of time together. This is a welcomed change, but if I spend that extra time on my phone, I’m missing out on an opportunity for quality time with my loved ones, a chance to get things done around the house, and ultimately, an opportunity to be away from a screen after 8 hours on my computer at work.
I share all of this just to say, I understand if your week is crazy and I totally get wanting some things to be different. What I’ve learned and hope to pass along, is that your energy is best spent focusing on what you can change and not on what you can’t. Things don’t have to stay the way they are, and although change can be hard, I really believe that creating a healthier work week routine can have a huge impact on overall wellness.