Can’t have it all…

In my last post I alluded to some changes that were afoot. Well if you follow me on instagram you’ll understand why sewing (and this blog) has been completely on the back foot of late. Aside from going from stay at home Mum to working full time for the past year, on 25th August, a soggy bank holiday, we moved house. So every spare moment or day off in the run up to “the move” was spent decluttering, organising, packing and cleaning. Every spare moment or day off since has been spent unpacking, organising, planning, decorating and gardening. All against the backdrop of some health issues that meant my energy levels were at an all time low.

When I was younger I moved alot. My parents were in the RAF and in my teens and twenties I’d move from one short term rental to another without so much as a second thought. A house was just a place to lay my head, get changed and keep my stuff. Didn’t phase me at all. But for some reason this particular move sent me into a bit of a spin. Perhaps because I was already exhausted before we even started. Perhaps because the house we moved from had just got to a point where it worked and flowed perfectly for us. (At least before my OH’s teen moved in and space became an issue). Perhaps it’s because it’s the longest I’d lived anywhere and I’d subconsciously put down roots for the first time in life. Perhaps, and most likely, because it was the house where Elliott reached all of his major milestones. First words. First steps. First everything really. It was the house where we went from being in pretty dire straits to being fully back on our feet. I’d never really experienced being attached to a home before. And it didn’t really dawn on me until the night before moving day that that was what I was feeling. A wrenching feeling. A feeling of being dragged away from somewhere I didn’t want to leave to somewhere I didn’t want to go. (The move was a purely practical one and I bore no feeling of excitement about the property we were moving to. It’s bigger…that’s all).  So I spent the first few weeks here fluctuating between melancholy, irritability and feeling a bit out of control….

My way of processing this was to throw myself into physical activity. I have a mentality where, in times of emotional stress, I just stick my head down, stay busy and plough forward until I come out the other side. We always come out the other side eventually, and for me, the “waiting it out” phase goes alot quicker when I pack my days so much that I have less time to wallow or give in to negative feelings. It helps me feel like I’m grabbing those feelings by the horns and wrestling them. Controlling them rather than having them control me.  If this house wasn’t what I wanted, then I sure as hell am not going to stop until I make it loveable. So this is what the last couple of months has looked like on days off….

I’ve been a bit of a thing possessed. And while I have been physically exhausted for weeks, mentally I’m getting back to my usual upbeat, optimistic self. I detest being negative as it really isn’t my natural state.

Undoubtedly, a contributing factor to my low mood, has been the lack of time to fit it all in. Time to spend with Elliott without being cranky because I’m exhausted and then feeling  like crap because I snapped at him over something trivial, and then seeing the look of hurt on his face. Awful. Just awful.  I haven’t been able to indulge my creative passions as much as I did. Having space to sew is somewhat of a factor when you’re living amongst boxes without even a table. But the biggest factor is time. Time to fit it all in. Work. Conscious parenting. Relationships. Housework. Oh yeah, and at the end of that list…me time. Maybe it’s selfish, but I can’t indefinately sustain any of those other things unless I have time to do the things that bring me pleasure and feed my soul. I’ve tried, and I can’t. I literally cannot do all of those things. Hats off to those that can. But I can’t. I cannot do it all. There. I said it!

 Time has been a factor for the past year due to my job and more recently the move as well.  Trying to do it all isn’t working. It just isn’t. So recently J and I have been reviewing our work/life balance. J is struggling too. What was meant to be a part time position to supplement my full time wage and allow J to be available for childcare, has turned into a full time job for him too. He’s currently juggling business calls and paperwork with a 5 year old tugging at his shirt and wanting attention. So now we’re both working full time, financially better off,  but both trying to fit everything in on our days off (which are rarely together) and not really managing to stay on top of everything without being constantly on the verge of exhaustion. And my little Tornado? He’s confronted with two cranky parents who just need him to play on his own for a bit so they can sit at opposite ends of the sofa and not say anything!

It’s by no means a special situation. And it’s not a “poor us”. I know families across the country/world struggle with the same issues. I think for us, we have to make a change. We can’t have it all, and it’s a question of deciding what our priorities are. Financial comfort and a watered down family life OR less (but enough) money, and TIME. Time to shape and improve our quality of life. After all, that’s what money buys you. Time. It’s actually such a precious commodity. It’s finite, Once it’s used, it’s gone. You can’t buy it back further down the line. That particular moment, day, week…well it’s gone.
So I’ve decided I’m going to be more picky with how much of my time I “sell”. An opportunity arose in my job where cutting my hours back would solve their problem and mine. So I took it. And as of the end of this month I am officially part time and no longer working weekends.

More time for family at the weekends. And some time for me to make a return to some creativity and blogging 🙂 And I can’t wait! For the first time in months I’m feeling excited about the future again. I lost that for a while and it’s essential to me for my happiness. I guess my point is, life’s too short. If the status quo isn’t making you and yours happy, then it isn’t working and something has to give. Let your smile change the world, don’t let the world change your smile…

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  1. Eme Asterisco October 23, 2014

    You are lucky. Where I live there is no such thing as part time jobs or cutting hours. You need two incomes in a household just to scrape by.

    I think you made a great decision and your little tornado is going to be very happy and have some lovely memories of his not-cranky-anymore mom.

    • Portia Lawrie October 23, 2014

      You’re right Eme. We are lucky to at least have the option. We’ll have to cut back a bit but its got to be worth it 🙂

  2. diaryofapennypincher October 23, 2014

    Thank you for posting this. I empathise in as much as I am in the process of moving and am not looking forward to the move. I adore my house and have spent 20 years turning it into my home. It is in the wrong place however, and location is what matters. Everything else can be changed and that is what I intend to do. After reading your post I know I’m not odd in not looking forward to a new house, but I do know that like you, positivity will overcome and I will make my new house my home!

    • Portia Lawrie October 23, 2014

      I can’t tell you how glad i am that this resonates with someone! I felt like such an ungrateful brat whenever anyone asked if i was excited about moving to a newer, bigger place…and all I just wasn’t. If it helps, I’m starting to like my home now 🙂

  3. Lana Pugh October 23, 2014

    Most of the time I don’t mind the work, but right now and for a couple of months all I want is a part time job and some time to spend with my daughter and not being rushed, stressed, tired, cranky, you name it. But, we need both of our incomes to work. I’m paying off some debt and maybe it I could get that done and over with I could do something different, but for the moment I’m kinda stuck and have to make the best of it.

    Also I would ADORE moving. Preferably back to the country where I grew up. Even the small town I moved to is definitely not for me.

    • Portia Lawrie October 23, 2014

      Lana I hear you! We spent the past 5 years paying off accumulated debt. We’re on a level now which is why we can do this. Hope you get your wishlist soon 🙂 Px

  4. Louise Perry October 23, 2014

    Glad things will be better soon.

  5. Sabine October 23, 2014

    Saying out loud that you need ‘me-time’ in order to sustain all those other tasks and responsabilites and in order to sustain yourself is not selfish! It’s brave! just as well as it’s a most natural feeling, but sadly enough, it’s the one that is squashed down all too often. So “hear, hear!” for you, and for grabbing the new work opportunity. Because you’re right. Life is a one-way ride, and what does one wish to remember when all is said and done? Right.

  6. MrsC (Maryanne) October 23, 2014

    Well done. Quite a monster hurdle all around really, and I know it is not a cut and dried decision to cut back on work, especially after having had financial speed wobbles recently. But you’ve done the thing we all need to reminded to do – work out what it important and prioritise accordingly. This is pretty hard to do! All the very best for your this next phase of your life 🙂

  7. Portia Lawrie October 23, 2014

    Lovely to hear from you Maryanne! And thank you. It feels like the right thing to do 🙂

  8. Gutukas October 24, 2014

    I felt every word when I read a great post. Thanks. I am also a working mom who is juggling it all on weekdays and even weekends I miss a slower creative time so much… I am looking forward to your new post and new refashion adventures! You are so lovely and the best in that. All the best ;)))

    • Portia Lawrie October 26, 2014

      Thank you so much Gutukas! Such a lovely thing to say! The best to you too! Px

  9. JustSewJenna October 24, 2014

    I empathise so much with what you’ve been going through. I only work school hours three days a week but it still feels like a struggle to fit everything in. I am thinking of going to two days a week after January if I can clear my backlog of work first. Well done on turning your new house into a home, I am sure you will love it soon. I have been enjoying seeing pics on Instagram, will you be writing a transformation post??

    • Portia Lawrie October 24, 2014

      Aw thanks for the empathy Jenna and yes. There’ll be a few reveals coming up on the blog 🙂

  10. Nina October 26, 2014

    I totally relate. Time is so precious. I’m so grateful that I can afford to work part time and spend time with the kids. Sometimes it’s just the walk to kindergarten with my son, talking about snails and frogs, that totally makes my day. And you should never feel selfish when you take time for yourself. As a mother, you are constantly giving so much, and you have to find means to recover. I hope that makes sense 🙂 Greetings from austria!

  11. Portia Lawrie October 26, 2014

    It totally does make sense Nina 🙂 Thank you! And greetings right back at you from the UK! Px

  12. Sewing Princess October 27, 2014

    Thank you so much for this post! it’s beautifully written and those words really strike a chord with me…for slightly different reasons.
    I am very happy you could take that decision. I love how your house is coming along and I didn’t realize what was behind until now. Congratulations on the new overlocker!

  13. Amy Brice October 30, 2014

    Thank you for posting this, for your honesty. I really needed to hear that I’m not the only one going through this.


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