Yesterday I had my monthly therapy appointment.
Yup, I’m down to monthly. This is a BIG DEAL for me since for a while I was going weekly. Truthfully there were times when I felt I could go every day.
My therapist has said I could just be “done” until I feel I need it again, but I didn’t feel comfortable with that. The monthly visits make me feel like there is an accountability for me. It helps me know there is a check-in to make sure I am maintaining and managing my anxiety, depression, and OCD.
In fact, yesterday the first thing Dr. M asked me was “So how has going back to school gone for you?”
I have been seeing Dr. M for about two years now. She is awesome at her job and knows when my yearly meltdowns typically occur. This is the first time in years that I haven’t had weekly appointments during this time of year to help me manage the big shift in schedule.
And it was fine.
I told Dr. M that it was going great. And I wasn’t lying or sugar-coating anything.
Yes, I have had a couple slips, but Cortney and I recognized them quickly and we worked to “contain” (that is what Dr. M calls it) my anxiety.
In fact, this fall is busier than ever for me, but I am doing well with it all. Dr. M says that this is because I have set up a containment strategy for myself.
I know that working three jobs (teaching high school, teaching college, and freelancing) plus taking two classes, PLUS wanting to be a quality parent and wife AND help keep my house from being condemned would have been way too much for me in the past.
But this year, because I really love all of the things I have taken on and I want to be successful, I devised a schedule for myself. One that I have shared with Cortney and that is printed and on my desk and school and taped into my blog/freelance planner at home. It looks like this:
To some people this might look like I am putting myself in a box, and I guess I sort of am. I mean, the schedule is shaped like a box.
But for me it’s incredibly freeing.
Because I have so many things I have to work on at any given moment, I can get overwhelmed and shut down and forget how to prioritize. I also have the tendency to prioritize certain things right out of my life like family time or sleep. This is problematic for my mental health since lack of down time (and sleep) are major triggers for my anxiety and depression.
If I don’t have set times when things get done, I also tend to procrastinate which further exacerbates my anxiety.
I realized a couple weeks ago that in order to feel free, I needed to box myself in.
So I created the above schedule. Not only does it keep me focused, but it tells me what to do in each “work time” slot. For instance in the “school planning” areas I ONLY do school planning. No blogging or freelancing. That is what the evenings are for.
It also helps me to realize that if I am sent a possible freelance assignment, but because of the date assigned and the date due, I won’t be able to write on a Sunday? I won’t take that assignment.
This schedule makes us go device-free for time every. single. day. It makes sure I am being present for my husband and kids each day.
Because of all the open family time on the weekends, we are flexible for putting fun things on the calendar or for tackling house tasks.
I also have the opportunity to look forward and say, “I didn’t get all the essays graded I needed to, but I have time tomorrow to do it again.”
I realize at first glance it’s easy to say, “but you have ever single minute of your life SCHEDULED!” But if you look closely, you will see that I have scheduled the unscheduled as well.
The other benefits to this is that it puts our whole family into a sort of predictable routine which has been wonderful for Eddie and Charlie and has made communication between Cortney and myself much better. We share bedtime duty with Eddie so it’s not a same-day decision. It’s expected that I will be gone during nap on Sundays to go work at Starbucks on my writing, so no one is being resentful of that time.
Our weekends have been much more fulfilling and happy since we started this schedule, as have our evenings.
I don’t think this sort of box-style scheduling is for everyone, but it is definitely what is working for me and my famly right now.