Coping with Chaos

Blapril is around, and I was totally in the dark, for reason explained later.  What was initially seen as a long weekend has moved into purgatory.  First world problems abound here, where mental stress is taking a toll.  (I say this, because there are people arguing to get haircuts… which is just, wow.)  The good news of living in Canada is that there is a heck of a lot of financial support for those who are struggling – far from perfect, but it’s there.

Dealing with this is a personal thing and depends a whole lot on your social context.  I come from a lower-middle class background, where money was tight.  I’ve had to make interesting decisions on food vs having a roof.  From that, I don’t put a lot of value in material things (acquiring them), and tend to maintain the heck out of them and try to repair rather than replace.  I brown-bag my lunch, make my own coffee, that sort of stuff.  The majority of my expenses relate to social settings – like having a beer after a hockey game.  My household budget is a tight spreadsheet.  Organized without being anal about it.

My day-job is a non-stop sequence of meetings, often conflicting.  I wake up in the morning, review my calendar, mentally prep for each, then just cascade through them.  It’s highly structured, and I have more work than time.  If you’ve read the 7 habits of highly effective people, that would describe my ability to get through a day.  I’ve further taught myself to speed read, and all this online gaming and blogging has a neat benefit of a crazy high words-per-minute typing ability. Within those work hours, I’m a highly regimented and effective person.

Outside of work, there’s the eternal list of to-dos.  For the winter, it’s hockey (2 kids + me) about 10 times a week – which is close to 25 hours if you include travel/prep.  There’s other kids activities, social events, prepping food, chores, projects, and piles upon piles of things.  When you’re in it, it seems normal.  Looking back, the reality is that there was perhaps 2 nights a week where things were open – and we worked to fill them.  Having an entire day off, that was like a vacation!

Today, work is pretty much the same, except my commute time is measured in seconds instead of minutes.  I need to switch from work to home mode, multiple times.  Up until this last weekend, it was close to 7 days a week of work.  Trying to help kids with their own work is crazy, and my wife is doing an amazing job at that (on top of her work as a teacher).  Time outside of work is harder to juggle, since I’ve now got no extra activities, and limited options for the social stuff.  I’ve had to include a new workout regime to compensate for the lack of sports (that’s working out rather well, if I havent’ had a 12 hour work day).  We take more time to prep meals, often eating much later.  Time just seems to be flying.  Most nights past 9, I’m on some game trying to ramp the brain down from the day’s events.

My mental stress is not due to finances.  There are no health issues.  Food is still relatively easy to access.  It’s not due to boredom.  It’s not cause my wife cuts my hair (which is pretty sweet, and my mustache is kick butt). It’s due to having an even busier schedule than before, and a lack of previous social outlets.  It’s managing other people’s stress in the house, and helping them cope.  The super mega great news on that front is that I love my wife and kids, and being locked up with them is cool.  Getting to spend more time with them is a damn perk.

There are days that are tougher than others.  Where work just drains me completely.  I let the wife and kids know (they aren’t mind readers, at least I hope not), and they 100% respect that and let me recharge.  I get back into it.  I’m conscious that my situation is likely the best of nearly all possible variables.  I’d sure as heck like to get out of this house and have a pint on a patio, but all things considered, I’m in a really good spot.



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