Breathing Room

Like you, I’m busy. I work. I raise four kids by myself. I go to church, which keeps me grounded spiritually and connected to others. I have a hobby – working out at an amazing community gym – that keeps me physically fit and mentally sane, but which requires several hours each week. Not to mention piddly responsibilities such as laundry, car maintenance, grocery shopping, and other necessary Time Suckers.  I love everything I do. But, for over a year, I’ve been scheduled to the hilt.

Here’s my problem: I also require time to just be. To breathe. To allow my mind to wander beyond the logistics of how everyone will get to their activities this week. When I don’t get that breathing room, I’m no good to anyone. Grouchy and ungracious with my coworkers, Mommie Dearest at home, unavailable to my friends. Worthless, in terms of my ability to contribute positively (except, perhaps, that I give multiple people opportunities to practice forgiveness).

I’ve tried to push through my frenetic schedule of work/carpooling/home chores/church/hobby for awhile now.  But, in the end, I came to the conclusion that my schedule was unworkable in the long term. Something had to go.

But what? Everything I was doing was good – necessary, even. For awhile I entertained thoughts of quitting my (dream) job and going back to grad school, but I realized pretty quickly that the big draw of this idea was that I’d be able to go to the gym more and wear jammie pants a lot  for a couple years. Not a great reason to quit a dream job and go into debt – but it did point toward a real need, which is that I needed to create more margin in my days.

I came to the conclusion that my hobby needed to be put on hold for awhile. This was tough. I have dear friends at my gym. I’ve gained so much health and self-confidence and knowledge through being a part of that community for the past four years. It has been my sanity, my permission to focus on me for a blessed hour a day.

But right now, it doesn’t fit into my schedule very well. So I’m cutting it loose for awhile – sadly – but already, I’m feeling new energy as I create that space in my schedule.

Today, I did my first DIY workout in my garage, combining my need for exercise and my need to be by myself. I’m hoping that saying “no” for awhile to something good, in order to create more breathing room in my life, will enable me to get rid of the pervasive Overwhelmed Mom Syndrome that’s been dogging me for over a year.

How do you build Breathing Room into your life? Is there something good that you need to say “no” to for a season, in order to create a schedule that’s sustainable?


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