Value your happiness, and find moments of joy
To start: I am exhausted. This has been a particularly intense few weeks for the Madesko house.
“Why,” you ask? Well, a little bit ago, Zara saw a snake in the jungle. (our backyard) We came right over and explained to her that snakes are nice like spiders- if we leave them alone, they’ll leave us alone. But still, be afraid because with snakes if you get too close on purpose, or you aren’t paying attention and you step on one- they could bite you and it would be a “BIG OUCH” It’s always a battle with those kinds of teaching moments, right? You want to give them enough fear to heed your words, but not terrify them so they panic out of the whole experience. You want to educate/inform them, but also explain it’s something that’s beyond their full scope of understanding. Zara loves any and all animals, especially dangerous and creepy crawlies. Ie: scorpions, snakes, spiders, bugs, dinosaurs (I know, she’s an odd one) So this was a particularly important message to relay. Anyway, I think we leaned a little too hard on fear factor, because she has been having nightmares. She has ended up in our bed every night for the past 2 weeks, even if I take her back to her own room; laying down with her until she sleeps- 2, even 3 times. Add interrupted sleep to the perpetual hamster wheel that is adulting; a crash landing becomes inevitable. Long story short, Amer and I are €$%&!*# tired. And we have been, for like, 4 years.
So, this week in particular has been building in intensity. Busy busy every day and then Friday night I stayed up till 2!! I often only have “me time” after the girls are asleep, so I didn’t start till 930. I wanted to make a dessert for a baby shower- a semi complicated dish called pavlova. Next day-The girls are all dressed – ready to go – AND I DROP IT. Yes, to the floor; to absolute pieces.
It’s fine, deep breaths, I clean it up, we go. Come home, make dinner, get the girls to bed, and I fall asleep 20 minutes later – fully clothed, with all the lights on, in the middle of quasi folded laundry. *Amer cleaned up the kitchen, which was a really nice surprise this morning. He is a gem*
I didn’t even list everything because I was getting tired just writing it. The cooking, the cleaning, the CONSTANT TIDYING OMG – WHY ARE CHILDREN SO MESSY?!
And guess what, I’m not special. Everyone has this life. You don’t even need kids to be exhausted by your every day goings on. US workplace culture supports the social ideology that work is #1: you have to sacrifice (time and mainly your well being) just to get ahead- and that is toxic. We are pressured to come in on sick days (maybe not now, but pre Covid 💯) guilted for taking personal time or a “mental health” day, asked to do more than our job requires, etc etc. SAHMs get a similar short stick- their work isn’t often considered work, there’s a never ending physical and MENTAL to do list, and people think you have it easy because you’re at home with the kids and not a “real job.” A big LOL to that. Give me a desk and a baby sitter, I’ll see you at dinner. Oh and the bills of it all? The bills. All the bills. This is all part of the atmosphere contributing to the ubiquitous “overwhelmed vibe” that is Adulting.
The good news is, it does seem like it’s getting better. Bigger companies are spending more time and resources on protecting their employees quality of life. Maybe it’s perks like an in office gym, daycare facility, or allowing work from home shifts. The bad news is, not enough is happening in enough places. Women are back to work more and speaking up more about their issues, but still do 2/3 of the household chores. Most employees are lucky to get basic health insurance, or a break room that isn’t completely depressing, or a coffee machine, or a decent living wage.
People have to work, parents have to parent, adults have to “adult” we all have to function to a certain extent. Existence doesn’t have to be at the expense of our happiness, even though sometimes it may feel like it. When there’s no one else looking out for you- that’s what you’re for! Even with a healthy support system, it all boils down to numero uno. Putting the self- in self care, if you will.
It’s easier said than done, and it takes consistent practice and application. Ultimately, it’s for a better quality of life, because you deserve it. Knowing, respecting, and believing that is a big first step. There’s a few ways to break down the rest, depending on what’s truly best for you.
Find your joy.
Maybe frame some pictures of your cat for your desk. Wear your favorite socks when you’ve got a big meeting. A few days a week, take your lunch outside because you work right by a cool fountain. Get a little work plant. Try pranking your coworkers; everyone loves that. Take the scenic drive on the way there. When things get really intense or overwhelming- go dance somewhere. We are always dancing here, it helps me stay connected to the girls while I’m cooking or cleaning. Pack yourself an amazing lunch. Buy yourself an amazing lunch. Stay a few extra minutes to gossip. Stay a few extra minutes to help out the intern who’s crying for the 3rd time today. Bring your dog to work in your bag. You get what I’m saying here: Find what you like most about your work experience, or what brings you the most happiness- and squeeze as much lemonade out as you can. Because life has enough lemons.
Take time at home
Alright maybe we’re maxed out on what’s possible at work. What can we control at home? Some people like to keep a garden, or have a special outdoor space where they can sit and have some peace. A nice hot bath with candles and a face mask after the kids go to sleep. Maybe it’s a glass of wine. Maybe it’s 2. When I’m doing stuff I don’t like (like cleaning ANYTHING) I play music to help keep my pace and spirits up. Indoor plants are scientifically proven to be good for your mental health. So is therapy. Or at least, talk to your family and your partner about how you’re feeling and what you’re experiencing. Make special time to be with them. Make time to nurture your friendships- even over FaceTime or Zoom calls. I am a visual person, so I like to switch out wall art, repaint furniture, or get new throw pillows when I’m feeling stuck. Sometimes it’s as simple as saying “no” to something you don’t have the capacity for; like cleaning up the playroom, making a dinner with all the food groups, attending a party, etc. Find ways to honor and respect your boundaries in your home life, it’s the best and most important place to feel safe and happy.
Re-evaluate: Is this job or situation really working for you? Do you need a change?
*Obviously, you can’t sit your family/kids down and put in your 2 weeks, but you can have a discussion about chores, scheduling, and load sharing with your partner.
Plenty of us end up working too long at a job that isn’t right for us. There’s a lot of reasons: we need/like the money, we like the people we work with, we went to school for it, a friend got us the job, the list goes on. It’s important though, that a job give back to you in some way. Be it- a sense of fulfillment/reward, a creative outlet, loving what you do, knowing that management has your back, or benefits like swag/discounts on stuff you like. If you can’t find that joy, no matter how hard you try, something’s gotta give. Speak up and honor that something. Are you being over-worked/underpaid, is there an available benefit you feel you’re not receiving, are you emotionally struggling to keep everything together, is your boss an asshole? Tell someone, work as high up as you need to to get the message across. Value yourself and the quality of your time and effort. Sometimes you are the best advocate for yourself, and sometimes you’re the only advocate you’ve got.
I understand a job is not fruit on a counter that just anyone can pick at any time. I know that sometimes work is work. Most of the time it’s an absolute necessity, and sometimes- even if you hate it- you have to do it. I understand it may sound naive to imply that there are other options. I deeply respect anyone who works hard/or to the best of their ability at anything.
My message this week is more about trying to find pieces of joy and reciprocated respect/kindness, no matter what. The message is, when possible- to work to live, not live to work. Seek out happiness. Blow some bubbles, get outside, hug a tree, stay inside, binge Netflix, eat an entire sleeve of Oreos, sing in the shower, dance with your kids, get a dog, cut yourself some bangs, you’ll love them.
After this crazy week, we are having cake for dinner, and I said “no thank you” to a load of laundry that can wait till tomorrow. It’s almost bedtime here and I know it’s inevitable Zara will end up with us again; robbing of us more sleep. But today I found some peace from the wild week. I made a healthy lunch, we all danced together, and I got a lot of writing done while Lela took an exceptionally l o n g nap. The girls are great at reminding me to play and to, as Elsa says, “let it go” when I get too bogged down. I’m finding my happiness and joy piece by piece, and I hope you find yours too.