WOWTips: Making Time for What Matters Most

As always, I’ve fallen behind on my posts. And when I do post, it’s rarely a personal one. The WowMom is a place where I highlight other moms and share their stories. As a publicist, it’s what I do: put others on a pedestal and help them shine. I didn’t want this to be a personal blog where I shared my own journey and experience about being a mom…that is until today.

For awhile now I’ve been re-evaluating many things in my life. I’ve literally sat down to try to figure out what makes me happy. I swear, I heard crickets chirping during the process.  One of my biggest challenges is time, or lack of it. So much I want to do, but my on-going excuse is, “I don’t have time!” I hated hearing this excuse over and over but no matter how I tried to schedule “life”, I was always stuck in the same “don’t have time” place!

Whoever said that was right. Something has to give. We have to prioritize what matters most. For me that’s my family. The past year my son started high school. It was a challenging year for our family as we also had switched the poor kid from English to French. We knew the transition would be difficult but did not anticipate it being THIS difficult. We survived, but it was hell. While we did everything we could to support him, we questioned our decision every day.  High school life also meant he now came home earlier. Two full hours earlier. So much was changing. Literally overnight, this kid who I drove to school every day (we live 7 houses away from his elementary – and yes, I am THAT lazy), now had a cellphone, was taking the city bus across town to go to school, and coming home to an empty house. Sigh. It wasn’t what I wished for, but it was our reality.

I’d come home from work drained each day, rushing to make dinner, clean up. We dealt with homework, bath time (for my daughter, not my high schooled son), bedtime and then shift 3 – more work. I never knew where the time went and we were just rushing through the motions of life, trying to get by each day. I didn’t want “that” again for this new school year. Something had to give. But what?

We all talk about not being happy, but how many of us are willing to make a change? As much as I complained, I wasn’t willing to let anything go. So that’s why I was in a constant rut. Deep down I knew what I had to do. I just didn’t want to do it.

This summer my company website got hacked. While dealing with issue, I spent a lot of time on the phone with tech support from my web hosting company, Go Daddy. Was on the phone with tech guy number six, when I randomly mentioned my husband would fix some coding after he finished helping my son prep for his exams. I don’t know why but this lead to sharing moment with Mr. Go Daddy tech dude. He told me he has three sons (bless him!), one is a surgeon now, one’s in Harvard and the last at MIT. I was dumbfounded, “Wow, what are you feeding them to be so smart?!?” We’re just trying to survive first year high school!  He simply replied, “The secret is my wife. She sacrificed for them. She’s home with them, and keeps them in line.”  This really resonated with me. In that moment, it confirmed what I already knew I had to do.

I want it all. Really I do. The reality is I can’t have it all at once. It’s impossible. How am I supposed to run a full-fledge agency, and raise well-mannered successful children? Let’s not even talk about “taking care” of myself. No time for exercise, no time for sleep, there’s never any time anywhere.  Exercise? Sure, I have an opening in my schedule between 1:00am and 6:30am. Oh and those 8 hours of sleep I’m supposed to be getting? That’s just funny. No time, no energy, no patience…no joy. I’ve lost the joy in just trying to do everything and at a frantic pace all the time.

So I decided to cut. Looked at my schedule with a critical eye and saw that I spent an hour and a half to two hours each day commuting to and from work. That’s a lot of time. A little bit more sleep? Exercise? Meditate? Actually manage this blog better?!?! Think of all the possibilities with the gift of two hours each day?  Incredible!  But this also meant I had to be willing to walk away from my office. Ouch. There’s always a flip side. I love, love, love my office. Soaring high ceilings, drenched in sunlight, I’m instantly happy as soon as I open the door each day. I didn’t want to leave it. Cutting the commute, also meant cutting out my office.

Although I mentally made my decision, it took a month before I could even vocalize it. Telling my landlord would make it real. And I did not want to leave. But I did it. Gave my two-month notice, and now I have a month left until I move out. I know I’m making the right decision, but it doesn’t feel so great right now. I’m already missing my office.

My son is a good kid. I want him to stay that way. I want to be home more, so he doesn’t come home to an empty house. Although I wish I could be, I won’t be the type of mom who will greet him after school with freshly baked quinoa muffins. The extent of my mothering will probably be cutting him an apple so he doesn’t eat chips as an everyday snack (just an occasional one, to be shared with me of course). And I’d probably yell from time to time that he has to do homework now and enough with the technology. What’s best is him not knowing when the hell his momma will appear. Is she home now? Is she coming back in 10 minutes? When will she pop up? Well, that’s enough to keep him on his toes and close the door for potential schemes and things that may develop from utter freedom. Not sure if this will get him into an Ivy-league school, but every bit counts. I have no doubt that being more present will make a big difference. For that, I kiss my pretty office good-bye.

When I moved into my last office, I was 120%  gung-ho about my decision. There was nothing but excitement. This time around my decision to move was a bittersweet one. Although I know it’s the right move, there was no overt enthusiasm and I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of sadness. In my effort to have a better life balance, I decided to try the combination of working from home and using a co-working space.

My ego questioned this decision. It felt like a step down. Who would believe my agency is successful when I got rid of my office? I also had to reassure my team members that we were not closing shop, simply changing up how we work. And my family? As traditional Asian parents, their natural first reaction was one of panic. No, I am not going bankrupt, my business is fine. Once I got over this ego-issue and concern for what others thought, I realized it wasn’t as bad as I had mentally built it up to be.

Fast forward to now. I moved out and completed my first week of this new chapter. Did I start exercising? Did I make more “me time”? Sleep earlier? Ummm…no, not yet. But I feel the difference. I’m not as frantic. There’s no more concern and frustration with traffic. I’m blessed to work wherever I feel like working.

My reason for everything: my kids. On the first day, when he got back from school, my son was happy to find me at home. Seeing your mom and being happy may be a short-lived feeling for a teenager. Gotta milk this while I can.  And my little girl. Normally she’s one of the last ones to be picked up. She only knows the crazed mom who’s always rushing. This week I was able to manage my workload to have enough time to pick her up earlier…and by walking! She literally squealed in delight when she realized we were walking home together. So simple, yet so beautiful and happy.

And I had time to finally put up this blog post. Me? Blog post? This rarely happens. Quite an accomplishment. So let’s chalk this down as a good start.  Who knows? Maybe next week I really may start baking those quinoa muffins too!

photo credit: Create Cultivate



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