I turned 40 earlier this month and one of the goals I set for myself for this decade was to make my life a little easier. This is different — or I should say more — than just “simplifying my life,” which makes me think of mad organizing binges (which I have regularly), getting rid of stuff I no longer need or want (already do this), and saying no more frequently (working on this). Making my life easier will require me to do some things I’m not always comfortable with, for example:
admitting that I cannot do it all and asking for help; accepting help graciously when it’s offered; making simple meals or ordering pizza for my family instead of creating elaborate, time-consuming recipes; and spending money on convenience instead of saving on inconvenience.
I’ve felt the intensity of life turned up a few notches in the last year, especially since Joanie became mobile and Jackson started public school, where I’m expected to volunteer, chaperone field trips, bring a class snack once or twice a month, help with (daily!) homework, and of course, do drop off and pick-up every day. None of these things is hard (or unexpected), and I’m more than happy to do them all, but, like any parent, I find the act of juggling these things with all my other numerous responsibilities to be a challenge. I don’t want to spend my days crabby and overwhelmed. I want more energy to enjoy this life I’ve created — this family I’m so grateful for, this city I love living in, these friends I adore.
And so, I’ve been cutting corners — heating up frozen lasagna for dinner a couple times a month, and throwing fig bars in Jackson’s backpack for his snack instead of following any adorable Pinterest idea. I’ve called an Uber a few times when I very well could have walked because it saved me fifteen minutes and a little sanity. And this week, I decided to start paying someone to pick up Jackson from school and take him to his theater class so that once a week, I don’t have to wake up Joanie from her nap just to run her big brother up the street. I’ve also hired a babysitter for two hours on a different afternoon to watch Joanie while I take Jackson to a weekly appointment he has in a neighborhood a mile and a half away. (With no car and no direct public transportation and no easy way to bring two car seats for Uber rides, a mile and a half with two small children might as well be ten miles.) All of this does make my life a little easier and it also forces me to embrace another goal I set for myself this decade: stop feeling so guilty about stuff (but that’s a topic for another day). It saves time, energy, and space in my head otherwise spent fretting about this or that, and it even gives me a chance to enjoy more one-on-one time with each of my kids.
What about you? Have you adopted any new routines or practices that make your life easier? What could you start doing, if you gave yourself permission to, that would reduce some of your stress? And what would you do with the extra minutes (or hours?) you might have if you asked for and accepted (and maybe paid for) help?