February 14, 2017

I’m feeling a little bit overwhelmed lately.  I know no one can “have it all”, but I’ve always felt like I could have . . . a lot.  Or perhaps enough.  Lately, however, life feels like an endless stream of choices — choices that I don’t particularly want to make.  Read or get enough sleep.  Connect with friends and family or give the kids full attention in the evenings.  Write a blog post or spend time with Josh.  Give this patient lots of time, or spend time researching about another case.  I am constantly asking myself: can I really take the time to focus on this?  Will I be able to get everything done without disappointing anyone (including myself)?  I feel . . .uneasy.

I am on call, so I suppose my emotions may be amplified and my perspective skewed.  It also does not help that the kids have been sleeping less consistently than usual — not sure what’s up with that.  This morning, they were both up at 5:15.  My little slice of contemplation/workout time disappeared and even though I enjoyed doing a V-day treasure hunt with them (family tradition!) I would have appreciated it if we had gotten started a little later.  Like maybe 1.5 or 2 hours later.
I am organized.  I am not distracted by intrusive thoughts about things I may have forgotten.  Everything is laid out for me to see in my planner, and I know what is on my plate.  I outsource (a lot!).  But sometimes it just feels like too much.  I WANT time to read every day, time to meditate, time to eat without rushing (in a social setting, ideally), time to get all of work done in a focused-but-not-harried way, time to work out, time to spend uninterrupted and focused with the kids, and also with Josh.  Sprinkle in time to blog a few times per week (my only creative pursuit!), time with friends, and time to do other misc household chores that aren’t outsource-able — and even though I know 168 hours sounds really like a lot, I guarantee what I’d LIKE to do would fill at least 250.  Every week. 
What can I do?  I’m hanging on.  I decided to grab this little 30 minute window for myself to write this post — even though I’m on call and I have 39873 charts to do and people to call.  I am planning on coming home late-ish (maybe 7:30?) tonight, so I guess I’m stealing it from A&C.  I am trying (TRYING) to be present in the time I have, not waste time scrolling Instagram — although to be honest, I am failing at that, because when I do get random bits of time they seem to come in 3 minute unpredictable fragments, and Instagram is particularly delicious in those little snippets (aaaaand then sometimes 3 minutes become 30).  I am also trying to be kind to myself, and not hang onto unrealistic expectations — like the ones above.
I am not trying to invite pity.  That would be gross!  Like: “OMG, that woman with a great job and family and friends and a hundred different interests and goals — it’s just such a SHAME she can’t find time to do them all!”.  NO.  I recognize that this whole post comes from a place of privilege.  It’s almost like I just want more life.  MORE than the hours I already am so lucky to be living in. There are so many people I’d like to spend more time with, places I’d like to go, things I’d like to do.  And I’m coming to terms with the fact that it’s all finite.  That shouldn’t be news, but I think it’s easy to forget.  
School pix!
V-day treasure hunting
❤️ valentine surprise!





  • Reply Heather March 10, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    I feel like I could have written this post myself. There’s just so much I WANT to do–not anything I feel like I even _need_ to do, per se (well, besides work–but even that, I WANT to excel, not just phone it in and earn a salary). The tradeoffs are real, and quite frankly, sort of depressing! But I find it at least reassuring that I keep finding new hobbies and pursuits as I get older and no waning interest in enjoying life, at least! I remember thinking when I was a kid that all adults got to do was work and chores.

    Seeing this though makes me question what you shared in the comments of Laura’s blog last week…it reminds me of the comment someone (astutely, I thought) shared disagreeing with the tide on your "3" question. I think they basically said, no, I don’t think it’s a good idea because you like space and hobbies and time for all of that, and adding another kid to the mix is just going to press things further. I get if you don’t want to discuss that publicly, but just something to think about.

  • Reply Jill March 10, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    I 100% agree with absolutely everything you have written!!! Feels better to know that I"m not alone.

  • Reply Tyra March 10, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    Hopefully when you drop your work hours back you will find at least a little bit of that extra space you are craving!

  • Reply Young March 10, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    I feel you on this dilemma. Although we just have one, we are not able to outsource much so I think I can still relate to your time pressures. My little one also started getting up earlier than usual which totally obliterated my morning alone time, so I know how frustrating that feels. I love movies and used to take dance classes, but since free time is so limited now, I hardly ever watch movies (takes up too much time!) and have taken up at-home workouts, walks during my lunch break, or walks outside with the stroller which I actually enjoy. I realized that I need sleep and am not someone who thrives on less than 7 hours per night. I also need books in my life, so I make time for reading. Same with cooking meals at home. That pushes other things out like movies, tv shows, workout classes, and frequent date nights. There is not enough hours for.all that I want to do. Every night after bedtime is precious, and I hope to not waste it….but sometimes I just want to zone out , too! But then I feel.guilty that I didn’t spend it doing something "enriching" or productive. No real answers here. Just commenting to say that I can relate.

  • Reply Angela March 10, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    I think you hit on a universal struggle. You are very cognizant of your privilege, and that always comes through in your posts.
    I wonder if the time of year might be affecting you ? February can be a bit of a blah month. Holidays are gone, vacations and birthday celebrations might be several months away, making the normal flow of daily life (coupled with being on call) feel melancholic. I feel like there is probably a good Buddhist maxim or proverb that could probably shine some light on this…
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts- your blog is one of my favorites!

    • Reply theSHUbox March 10, 2019 at 7:09 pm

      Thank you so much Angela! I could use a good proverb, agree 🙂
      I can’t blame feb too much b/c it’s GORGEOUS here and it’s almost C’s 3rd bday and we’re about to go on a fun family trip in a few days (yay!). But I’m sure call plays a role!!

  • Reply Angela March 10, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    oh, and gorgeous pictures of the kiddos!

  • Reply Omdg March 10, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    I hear you, Sarah. Yesterday I went to a dinner with our department chair. Good for my career, yes. But I missed seeing my daughter awake at all that day, and she’s really seemed like she’s been needing my attention specifically lately, with our new ah pair and everything. I just feel torn sometimes, like if I want to do what I want with my life and career that I really will see less of her, and it really might make a difference. To both of us, actually.

  • Reply Lucy March 10, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    Here is a proverb: Do not want for things to be like you wish, wish them as they are.

    Easily said than done 🙂

  • Reply Lily March 10, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    I’m sure these feelings were greatly amplified by missing out on your workout/contemplation time. Losing those few moments when we re-center can make everything else seem that much more difficult. A few years ago I would end coffee dates with women I really admired ‘any tips on how you do it?’ and although most just laughed it off ("Oh, I don’t") one woman replied crisply: "I exercise an hour a day, even if it’s a walk; I have one day entirely off work and study each week; I have a weekend with girlfriends once a quarter. Fitting those things in is what makes everything else possible" Not to add more to your ‘want’ list, but I think prioritizing the things that make everything else possible is the key. If it helps, a friend uses the mantra ‘what my kids most need is a healthy and happy mother’ to get through any guilt about making time for herself, even if it comes at the expense of time with them.

  • Reply Natasha March 10, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    You did a treasure hunt for kids? That is awesome!!!! I’ll have to do something like that next time kids have a day off from school.

    This thirst for life that you have – wanting to do more, wishing for more hours – thank you for writing about it. I understand you wrote about it because of feeling overwhelmed – not the most positive feeling – but it actually made me feel energized. It reminded me that there is a ton of stuff (fun stuff!) that I really want to do. Sometimes, I get so caught up in routine I forget how to be excited about life.

    Occasionally, I feel like I am finally organized and have everything under control (3 kids, work, personal time)… never lasts more than a minute. There is always something that explodes in my face (this week – stomach bug) and than there is undone stuff that piles up, and I get behind on work, and I get all stressed out, and I don’t have time to read to kids, and, and, and…. I feel overwhelmed and outnumbered, and it takes weeks to dig myself out.

    Now I am going to choose to go to bed (instead of reading a book) and get as much sleep as possible under the circumstances. Because there is tomorrow and I intend to live it, feel it, and if it is a crazy roller-coaster, I’ll hang on and do my best to enjoy the ride 🙂

  • Reply Laura Vanderkam March 10, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    Hang in there! Few thoughts: morning time is yours. Take it even if the kids are up. Also, working until 7:30 isn’t "stealing" time from your kids. Sometimes different aspects of life take a bit more time and attention at different points, and getting caught up on work fits in there. It generally does work out over time

    • Reply theSHUbox March 10, 2019 at 7:09 pm

      wellll – morning time often is mine, but Josh is also on call this week and when he’s only slept 4 hours (or fewer) it’s not necessarily so straightforward that I get the mornings. I think he was up at night with one or both kids that night too while I stayed in bed. I have been generally claiming Mondays / Weds / Fridays as longer workouts days in the AM though and it’s been working well. Tuesday was just a mess!

      But your’e right about realizing that over time it hopefully will come to a reasonable mix!

  • Reply Erica March 10, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    I am thinking about something that might help you reframe your thinking. It seems like you really are focused on how much you can fit into a week, but maybe you could change your perception of what you want to fit into a month. That’s how I approach scheduling everything that’s not work-related and I find it a lot less overwhelming. For us, we look for 1 date night, 1 social event with friends (without kids), 4 social events with friends (with kids; weekend play dates!), 2-3 family adventures (museums, bike rides etc). Dan and I each get about 2-3 social events / nights off with our own friends (book club etc for me, game night for him), and one house project.

    And I think like others pointed out that you are probably feeling this very strongly because your alone time was cut short on this particular day, on top of your call schedule. I can relate. I run at 5:30 every day, and get back at 6:30 with the hope of 15 minutes of alone time for news and blog reading, and inevitably Griffin comes out of his room as soon as I make it up the stairs. I get so mad when I’m interrupted in the middle of something I was enjoying that it often leads to me being frustrated and short with him and Dan all morning.

  • Reply Christine Cortese March 10, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    Hi, Sarah. I don’t comment often but due to personal changes in planning and the comment by Erica above, I felt it important to chime in. I, too, have gone to monthly (plus quarterly and annual) planning rather than focusing on the day or week. It has removed immediate pressure to achieve and allowed more spontaneity to my life. Changing focus to achieving balance over a longer term has made all the difference for me. Also the concept of "seasons of life" has been very helpful.

  • Reply OrganisingQueen March 10, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    I must share something with you. I’m also very organised 🙂 like you and when I feel like this, I just tell myself to wait 4 – 5 days and see if I feel the same.

    (Spoiler – I never do)

    It’s usually PMS that makes me feel like this because in my mind I do know I’m organising everything better than 90% of the population so it’s probably all feelings, and not fact.

    But I will say once you drop that day, it’s going to be awesome! I took a sabbatical for 4 months two years ago and it was AWESOME and highly recommended!

  • Reply Colleen March 10, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    I am a long time reader (pre-A, I think!) and I don’t *think* I’ve ever commented. I really appreciated this post and reading through the comments. I’m about to head back to work in two weeks after our first baby. I’ve been lucky to be home for 11 months and I’m really itching to get back to work… but I’m suddenly thinking of the hours/minutes in a day and how I will spend each of them. I also liked your post on working 4 days a week, outsourcing, etc. I had never thought of these things before but suddenly it’s very relevant. So thank you!

  • Reply Heather F. March 10, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    I so appreciated this post. The challenge of tradeoffs when they are all things I *want* to do is so tough!

    I wanted to share one idea on the work side of things – I’m not in medicine, but it sounds like your work, like mine, is essentially a combination of meetings + followups, plus more forward-looking work. Given that, have you tried / do you have the ability to set up your day to minimize context-switching? For example, patient meetings in a block, notes in a block, forward-looking work in a block? Or maybe patient meeting plus notes for that patient together, that kind of thing.

    I’ve been doing more of this lately and while it doesn’t magically cause more things to fit, it does seem like encouraging my brain to settle into a groove for a longer chunk of time helps with feeling less frazzled.

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