Well, it’s a new year. My guess is most of you have probably already been “back to reality” for a while now, but for me, reality begins again tomorrow, with my first shift since before Christmas. We had two wonderful weeks away, visiting family and friends, and after a busy few days of what seemed like endless grocery shopping, laundry, errands, taking down Christmas and unpacking, we are finally settled back into our little home in Edmonton.
Do you find it hard to settle back into routine? I confess that I find change difficult. Now, I like to think of myself as a pretty adventurous person. I don’t shy away from new foods. I enjoy new experiences. I like meeting new people and seeing new things. I even enjoy the process of learning something new. So you’d think change would be a welcome thing in my life. But the truth is, that though I sometimes crave change, desire it, even welcome it, and go out searching for it, the process of change is scary and nerve-wracking for me.
For this reason, starting a new school year, a new job, or even adjusting to a new schedule can be a big deal for me. Though I do sometimes get bored with the regular rhythm of my daily routine, it is also comforting, and familiar. I guess what it amounts to is a fear of the unknown. I don’t know what the next step is going to be like, because I haven’t experienced it yet, and this makes me anxious.
And so, it is with some trepidation that I return to work tomorrow for a season in which I will be the full time worker in our home. The Hubs has some time off between school years, and will be staying home with our Wee One, which means I will be picking up full time hours for the first time since before Mateo was born. Yes, I realize that it’s quite normal for most people to work full time. I realize, too, that I am incredibly blessed to not have to work full time all the time. It’s one of the things I love about the flexibility of my career – that I can choose to work less now while my kid is small, so that I can enjoy time watching him grow. But nevertheless, this is a change for me, and it’s kinda freaking me out.
I find myself constantly checking my schedule, and counting how many days in a row I’ve booked, and how many days off in between stretches. I have calculated the minimum hours I will need to sleep during the day when I am on nights so that I can still see and spend time with Mateo and the Hubs before I have to get ready and leave for work again (6.5 hours). I have begun planning, in my head, the things I will need to accomplish on my days off, and also all the fun things that we must do in order to maximize the Quality Family Time we have when we have it.
This is pretty typical stressed out Raquel behaviour. It’s been all I can do to not make a list of some sort. (Ok, I actually have made some lists). And knowing that I always get this way when change is coming, I have been trying to pull out some of my old coping skills, such as telling myself “This will feel normal in a month.” This is actually a pretty effective coping strategy for me, because isn’t it true? Change is scary because it is something that deviates from your normal. Once the change becomes a new normal, it’s not really scary anymore. And though sometimes change doesn’t work out the way you expect it to, sometimes it exceeds expectations and things turn out even better than you thought.
Today as I was driving, a song came on the radio that always remind me of this truth. I can always count on Jimmy Eat World’s The Middle to carry me through times of stressful change. It’s my go-to booster song.