Creating Pockets of Breathing Room

Share with us @tryverima or comment below how you are creating little pockets of breathing room in your life.  

My children and husband have been home for 24 hours a day for the past 7 weeks since California re-entered the purple tier of this pandemic.  As much as I love them, and as much as I lament how quickly time passes and their childhoods are speeding by. . . it is a lot of time together.  And a lot of cries for “Mommy/Mom/Dawn”  Add to it a 13-year old whose bedtime has shifted to 10:30pm, and a 6-year old whose rise-time holds steady at 6:00am and that leaves precisely zero time for me-time.  Things are further complicated as a company founder where it is my own equity on the line and up to me to decide when the workday is done.  That nagging feeling of the work I put in never being enough, has at times become so overwhelming and I have spent many nights with my head swirling and heart pounding unable to capture much needed sleep. 

Well, something has to change, so I decided to take a page from my friend Rochelle’s playbook and do what she calls “defensive calendaring” to re-establish some boundaries and claim some time for myself.  What’s more, I have started to “invite” my husband to my blocks of time so he knows that he is on duty and I am not available.  Here are some things I am trying that can hopefully inspire other moms.  And while they might not all qualify as “Me-time”, they do create small pockets of breathing room. 


Getting Fit  Slowing Down the Decline

A couple of weeks ago, I convinced my husband we had the space and the money to buy a treadmill which I would use fairly often as more than just a clothing rack.  I live in a gorgeous part of CA where the weather cooperates for outdoor activity 350 days of the year.  So why do I need a treadmill?  Because some days, I do not have the time to be physically gone from my house for an hour.  I do not have the bandwidth to plan my routes/walks, calculate distance, speed and track my progress.  The treadmill was my compromise so I could get my heart rate up and my endorphins flowing each morning.  Sometimes it’s a quick 15-minute jog while other times it’s a 45 minute *hike*.  And let’s not forget the 15-minute walk interrupted by 10-minute kiddo IT support, flanked by another 15-minute walk.  At least it’s more consistent and more overall minutes than the one hour once a week I was averaging.  (But seriously, do try to get outside as often as possible because there’s no replacement for fresh air and sunlight).

The treadmill certainly takes up a sizable chunk of Bay Area real estate and the day it arrived, my husband turned to me and said, “Now you can get fit!” 

Let’s get real here for a minute. This school year. . . . the year of the pandemic/homeschool/hybrid/shelter-at-home model, this mama is not getting fit.  I am merely trying to slow down the decline.  And for now, that will just have to do. 

Create Art Take An Art Class

A few of my friends came to the decision that 2021 was going to be a year of growth and exploration.  Sounds amazing in theory until one friend suggested we take a painting class together.  My stick-figure challenged self initially balked at the idea. . . . until I realized that it would be a chance to try something new, spend time with friends learning and growing together and there was zero pressure because no one (and I mean NO ONE) expects me to create anything remotely beautiful.  So we will make a night of it and for two hours on Friday I get time in my room, door closed, (Dad on dinner and bedtime duty) to learn, create and bond with my friends. 

Ask For Help  Share The Emotional Labor

Prior to establishing Verima, I was a full-time, stay-at-home mom and my husband was the breadwinner.  Our division of labor fell along stereotypical gender roles with my taking on all of the emotional and physical labor of our family’s needs.  Once Verima started taking up significant portions of my time, I learned to ask for help with the physical needs.  I asked my husband to pick up a child or pick-up the dinner I had ordered.  Well, I am happy to report that as Verima continues to grow, our relationship is evolving yet again.  I now ask that he share in the planning process and execution of our family’s needs.  In other words, share some of the emotional burden with me.  For example old-new me used to tell hubby that kiddo needs new glasses and ask him to take kiddo to the eye appointment.  But new-evolved me tells hubby that kiddo needs new glasses and then expects hubby to find the doctor that accepts our insurance, call the office, make an appointment and then take kiddo to the appointment.  I’ll definitely report back the day hubby is the one who notices kiddo needs new glasses. 

I know it doesn’t seem like much, but asking your partner to do more than just errands really takes a huge load off.  I find that not having to think about what to eat for dinner actually frees up so much brain space for me and allows me a few precious uninterrupted hours of productivity. 

Going Back to What I Enjoy

Earlier, I talked about exploring new areas of interest with zero expectations, but I don’t want to forget to return to the things I enjoy.  I love teaching my adult students ballet at a small studio each week. Unfortunately, we had to cancel our annual spring and winter performances due to the pandemic.  As much as I love ballet and teaching, admittedly, when the studio owner approached me to choreograph a piece for a new Zoom performance, my first thought was, “With what time?!”

But, it didn’t take long to remind myself that not only do I love to choreograph, set, and rehearse pieces, but I miss the entire process.  So, I agreed.  And now, each night when my brain is swirling with the hundreds of tasks to be done, I can turn them off, turn on Bach and let my brain interpret the music into dance.

My dear friends.  It has been a crazy year and though we can now get glimpses of the light at the end of the tunnel, there are more months of the tunnel left.  Be gentle with yourselves and hopefully, you are somewhat inspired to make some small changes to make those months just a little bit better and a little bit easier.  Stay well. 

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