Finding balance in life is tough. Between your regular job, chores, time with spouses or people you’re dating, and going out to play with friends and family, time is limited.
The fact is that we all only have 24 hours per day… 168 hours each week.
Then you throw a kid into the mix… ha! Good luck! It’s like a turbulent hurricane of confusion every day. And the frenzied mess doesn’t scale well either. With each additional child you have, it gets even more chaotic.
So finding balance between everything in life is tough enough, but with kids, you’re almost out of luck until you quit your job or your kids grow up.
At least, that’s what I thought. I figured that once I left my job, I’d have more time for everything. More time for this blog, more time for Mrs. R2R, more time for hobbies and dreams, and maybe most importantly – more time to spend with my daughter.
Don’t get me wrong – I do have more time than I had, but so far, it’s not adding up right.
I struggle finding balance in general. I’m a checklist guy at heart. Everything (and I mean everything) becomes a checklist item, which is absolutely great for staying on top of things. I’m very detail-oriented and I’m off-kilter until I can create a system to handle things.
On top of that, I always want to get everything done… like right now. So lack of time has always been a big contributor to my stress level.
I can’t wait until I’m done working so I can finally have time for everything!
Yeah, well guess what – I overestimated my free time.
It’s only been a few weeks, but I’m still having difficulty in finding balance between everything. Let’s break this down a little, shall we?
How I envision my day
Leading up to my last day of work, I had a vision in my head of how things would flow. I’m not looking for everything to be scheduled – hey, it’s retirement after all! But I did still picture my average day generally flowing something like this…
- Wake up around 7am when Mrs. R2R brings my daughter into the bedroom.
- Watch a little bit of TV with her and then have breakfast together as a family.
- After she heads to school, Mrs. R2R and I go to the exercise room at the apartment complex for a workout.
- Take a shower and let the day begin!
- Spend some time with Mrs. R2R. Maybe take a walk if the day is nice.
- Eat lunch with Mrs. R2R.
- Work on the blog for a few hours. Do a little work on a post and start making some changes to overhaul the site.
- Start doing other projects on the to-do list:
- Maybe start putting some of our stuff on eBay or Letgo (we are moving out of the country, after all!).
- Time to crack open the list of some of the hobbies I want to pursue in retirement.
- My daughter should be home now, so spend some a few hours with her and Mrs. R2R.
- Read a book or watch a movie.
- Go to sleep smiling about what a great day I had.
Not anything crazy, right? It seemed pretty realistic to me and if that doesn’t hit on the “finding balance” scale, I don’t know what does! But guess what – it’s not exactly how things have been going…
How my day actually flows
Yeah, I’m learning pretty quickly that early retirement doesn’t actually give you extra hours in the day… stupid 24 hours! Here’s how the day’s been flowing for me…
- Wake up around 7am when Mrs. R2R brings my daughter into the bedroom… so far, so good!
- Watch a little bit of TV with her while she eats breakfast.
- After she heads to school, Mrs. R2R and I sometimes make it to the exercise room for a workout.
- Maybe take a shower.
- Holy crap – it’s lunchtime already! Eat a quick lunch so I can try to get something done.
- What the @#$% is all this B.S. in my inbox? I guess when you’re no longer “working” you still need to deal with crap like paying bills and other day-to-day routine stuff.
- Work on the blog for a couple of hours.
- Wait – what just happened? Mrs. R2R is leaving to pick up our daughter from school already?!
- Spend some time with the two of them while still trying to get a little bit of work done on the blog.
- Time for bed for my daughter – why am I already so tired?
- Maybe I’ll read a little bit and go to bed… one or two chapters done – man, I really am tired!
- Go to sleep kind of stressed that another day went by without me getting anything done.
So yeah, not quite what I was aiming for in my typical day. This is honestly how things have been going the past few weeks.
I’m learning real quick that kids can throw a wrench in the works of any plans you have in mind. Whatever your agenda is, their plans are completely different and are more important than yours.
I’m also pretty sure that any parents reading this are nodding their heads and thinking, “duh, you didn’t know that???”
And yeah, of course, I know that kids are a big demand of your time. However, I also anticipated that I’d magically be able to fit everything into my day once I left my regular job.
Finding balance between the two
First of all, realize that the reason this finding balance concept is tough because I love my daughter and absolutely want to spend as much time with her as I can. She was my catalyst for early retirement in the first place. I love being around her and watching her grow and learn – she’s fun, funny, smart, creative and years beyond her age.
And second, it’s still only been only a few weeks since I’ve retired from my job. I had already anticipated a learning curve along the way – just not quite as frustrating as it’s been so far.
But, here’s the good news – like I mentioned earlier, I’m a man of systems. I figure out a way to make things work – that’s just my nature.
So I know I’ll get this figured out. It’s an important harmony that needs to be worked out.
And the solution is simple:
- Don’t feel obligated to spend every waking minute with my daughter. In all reality, she probably doesn’t want or need that anyway. She’s eight years old and starting to figure out her own life. Daddy-daughter time is fantastic, but it’s time for Dad to start easing off a little (and only a little!).
- Stop feeling stressed about getting everything done. Sure, that’s easier said than done, but I need to start appreciating that there’s always tomorrow. And that’s especially the case in early retirement. I’ve now gained close to 50 hours every week and need to wake up and realize that it’s not crunch time all the time.
- Find some new hours. It’s great that I’m sleeping in a little and getting up at 7am with my daughter. But do I really need to be going to sleep early, too? I’ve enjoyed catching up on my sleep, but I can probably stay up a little later and get a couple hours of work knocked out each day… that’s huge!
Yeah, that’s all there is to it. It’s time to stop whining like a baby, take the steps I just mentioned, and start enjoying my days of freedom even more.
Interestingly enough though, I came across an old post from Mr. Money Mustache called Embracing the Nagging Voices of Success. It seems I found this at the right time because I can relate to a lot to a lot of what he is saying…
Through all those years, I was looking at it the wrong way – I thought that the voices were there because I really sucked and really was always behind on everything. But eventually, after far too long, I started to notice that I was actually pretty far ahead, when measured against an average person of my age.
Finding balance between family and my “task list” is something I’m going to continue to strive to attain because it’s important. But it’s comforting to know that even though I might not perfect this goal, it’s not necessarily a failure on my part. It could very well be that I don’t even realize that I’m subconsciously just pushing toward success each and every day.
It’s funny because once I actually get this figured out, we’ll be leaving for Panama shortly thereafter. Then, among other things, we’ll have one more big time-sucker to throw into the mix… homeschooling.
We’re planning to homeschool our daughter for the first year in Panama since we’re not going to apply for residency right away. That means we’ll need to leave the country multiple times throughout the year for 30 days at a time. Schools tend to frown on it when your kid’s not in school for multiple months of the year.
I’m actually excited about the idea of homeschooling though because it gives us a lot more flexibility in being able to do other things we want like continue to travel.
That said, it’s also more time that’s going to disappear from the day. It’s a little different when you’re the teacher – you can’t really count that as family time together.
In other words, I’m going to have even less time to work on projects and such once we move to Panama. I’ll need to figure out a new game plan at that time.
Mrs. R2R has been digging into the homeschooling more and more throughout the past few months. The more we’ve discussed it, it’s probably going to be a mix of both of us doing the educating. That should be helpful in spreading things out a little bit.
Kids are worth it
This is not a post where I’m looking to complain. I couldn’t be happier with how blessed we are in life. We’ve saved enough money to buy ourselves freedom allowing me to retire at the young age of 43. We’ll run into hurdles just like anyone else, but we’re happy with where we’re at right now.
Taking a step back, this is far from a bad problem to have. I don’t have enough time because I’m spending too much time with my family? Seriously?!
There’s never been a better dilemma. You get one time around with your kids… one. And I have that opportunity right now to spend hours and hours more with her than I could ever have when I was anchored to a 9-5.
However, I feel it’s my duty to provide you with an honest look at what I’m running into. Finding balance is hard in general for a lot of us. But kids make it a lot more difficult.
And early retirement is great, but it doesn’t solve all of your problems. Time is still finite and you need to find that harmony between what matters and what really doesn’t.
It’s still early in the process but I’m betting that there will always be some things that get put on the backburner so I can spend more time with my daughter. Kids are worth it and those memories we have together outweigh the urgency of any of the projects I want to get done.
Have you ever had a problem finding balance in life? If you’re a parent, have kids been something that made the balance harder to maintain?
Thanks for reading!!