Starting on Monday, I will be back to a normal work schedule. It’s a pretty strange idea, especially when you consider that I’ve been at a dead run since about mid-April. That’s when a colleague went on maternity leave, and I was offered extra hours.
I added two night shifts, 6-10, plus Saturday and Sunday. Of course, customer complaints slow down significantly during these times. So I was told I could just check emails every half hour or so at night, and once every hour/hour and a half during the weekends.
Still, it meant I was tied to the computer more. And it meant dealing with customers almost constantly — or it felt like it anyway. Plus, I was still fulfilling some social media contract work. To sum up, then, I have been stressed out and chock full of obligations since April.
Not that it was all bad. My paychecks were nearly double. That was quite nice.
But maybe the biggest fallout from this was that, since I was so ridiculously busy, I allowed myself to be human. I was much better at accepting “good enough” rather than fretting about perfection. I was satisfied with less from myself. (Well, not counting all the extra hours but work with me here, folks.) The point is, I had something very nearly approaching an emotionally healthy outlook for my expectations of myself.
And so, as I contemplate this concept called “free time” which will very soon overwhelm me, I realize that I am kind of terrified and unsure of the effects. I’d love to think that I can maintain the trend. Maybe even refine it toward a healthier set of expectations. But I’m skeptical.
Getting back to a more frugal lifestyle does need to be one of my goals, and that’s always been a hard one to balance. As the depression ebbs and flows, I go through cycles of spending more than I should. Of course, some of that is perfectly natural for anyone with a healthy outlook on life and human behavior. Still, when you’re raised to be steadfastly frugal, it can feel like failure over and over again.
Even as crazily busy as I was before we left for New York, I was mortified at how much we were spending on takeout. But I was simply too frantic and exhausted to do much about it. So the middle ground was to get sandwiches from Safeway, figuring $10 is better than you’ll get at most fast food joints. But that’s still pricey, day in and day out.
I guess this is all a lengthy way of saying that I still have a long ways to go to find a happy balance of frugality and healthy expectations of myself. Tim has quite wisely insisted that I get my hiney into therapy stat.
While starting over with a new therapist fills me with dread, I do function better with an outside perspective being forced on me once or twice a week. Otherwise, I get lost in my own unhealthy ideals, which isn’t good for me, Tim or our marriage.
In the meantime, I think I’m just going to have to slowly submerge myself back into frugality. A toe in the water, then a foot and so on. I’ve never been good at plunging into hot tubs, and a quick immersion in frugality can be far more scalding.
My first effort is to get back into coupons — mildly. No more trying to get free stuff for the sake of free stuff. And no more clipping all coupons out immediately. Instead, I’m going to use Coupon Mom’s method of coupon organization.
In this system, you mark the date on each of the coupon circulars you get. Then, you just refer to the handy dandy list of grocery and drug store specials compiled on her site. Each one lets you know if there was a coupon and when it ran. That way, you only cut out the pertinent ones. Saving sanity in boatloads, if I had to guess. Even my mom, the coupon queen, has converted to this method and has declared it quite useful/time saving.
The only main problem I see is that the only grocery store covered is Fry’s. But I’m pretty sure the Arizona Safeways run similar deals to the ones in Washington, so I’ll attempt to crib from those.
Under the category of “finding middle ground,” though, I am going to make sure Tim and I go somewhere fun and/or nice for my birthday this Thursday. I got the name of a good water park. (We haven’t visited one since we got down here 11 months ago. And I love the things.) And it just so happens to be a place that also has miniature golf and an arcade. (C’mon, you guys knew I was a geek.)
Overall, it should be quite a good time. But I’m still using an Entertainment Book coupon for a buy-one-get-one round of miniature golf. It’s all about balance, right?