Women are natural-born caregivers. It is part of our genetic makeup to nurture those we care about. Unfortunately, that often comes at our own expense. We pull up buckets of energy from the well of ourselves to give to others. Only when everyone else has had their fill do we attempt to draw some of that energy for ourselves. More likely than not, we only have enough left to partially fill the bucket for our own use. Oftentimes, there isn’t anything left at all.

I was once in this rut myself. While I get to be creative in my job, it is not always the outlet I need. Sometimes I need to create something for myself, to listen to my inner voice and enact on my own passions and interests. But after giving so much energy to work, I would come home and there would be another mountain to climb. My husband also works, but I was the one who shopped for all the food we ate. I cooked the meals and cleared the dishes. I cleaned the place that we both lived in. I washed all of our clothes. Some nights, after the dishes were cleaned and the laundry folded, I found myself up until one or two in the morning just to have some time to myself. I would wake up the next day exhausted. I began to grow resentful of my husband, who got to come home and read the paper while I cooked. He got to watch his favorite shows after dinner while I did the dishes. He went to bed at a decent time so that he could be well rested for the next day. I did not realize just how badly this was affecting me until I lost it over something completely trivial. My husband, rather innocently, asked if there was any more milk left for his coffee one night. “Oh my god, you are a grown man, you can go shopping once in awhile!” I had screamed. He had seemed so taken aback. Finally, he told me that he had no problem going grocery shopping but that since I did the cooking, he never knew what to buy. We sat down together and divided up the household chores. I still do the cooking, but now I get to sit down for a little while after dinner while he loads the dishwasher. We each fold our own laundry.

I also decided to be more conscious of what I was spending my time on. I found myself staring at my computer and phone screens less and reading more. I started keeping a notebook open on my desk and every time I got distracted by something, I would write it down. At first, there were lots of things that distracted me, but the number shrank every day. I began to menu plan so that my husband had a grocery list, but it also stopped me from standing in front of the pantry every night wondering what I should make for dinner. I made a laundry and cleaning schedule for us both to stick to so that the chores didn’t overwhelm my entire weekends. By simply changes like these, I have managed to carve “sacred time” for myself that I can do the things that make me feel fulfilled.

Not all of these strategies will work for everyone, I am sure. But if you take a few days and log what you do with your time, you may find things that you can eliminate throughout the day to carve your own sacred time. Maybe you unconsciously spend time getting lost in internet wormholes and then find yourself up long past everyone else has gone to bed, catching up on household chores instead of doing something meaningful. Maybe there are chores that others in your household would gladly take over if they knew it would make you feel more appreciated and loved. Maybe your family members just need to know that you need time to yourself and then they will go look for their own shoes (or whatever it is that you are always asked about). If you want that time for yourself, you will have to look for it in the scope of your day. You might be surprised where you actually find it. Good luck, and if you have any strategies that have worked for you, I would love to hear about them!

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