Reconciling your “should do’s” and your “do-do’s”

Yes, I titled this blog so I could say doodoo. But all poop jokes aside (I save those for my husband), I’ve got a fairly serious blog post percolating in my mind tonight. Whether you call me friend, family, or have simply seen me string 10 words into a run-on sentence, you know that I tend to have some pretty lofty expectations for myself. I feel like there’s always something I “should” be doing-cleaning house, weeding the yard, exercising for the third time in a single day. I feel “guilty” sitting on the couch and relaxing. It seems like instead of perusing the same 10-15 websites I always visit, I should be curing cancer, working a second job, or creating world peace. Free time used to render me in almost a panic-I literally could not sit still. I’d eat dinner, sit around for 5 minutes, and then find a way to be productive again until I fell into bed completely exhausted. I’m a little bit “better” these days, but I still have a hard time being in the moment and not thinking of what I “should” be doing. Lets face it-I probably would never be the housewife scrubbing floors with clockwork regularity, the person on the block with the immaculately manicured yard, or the avid weekly participant of a book club. So why can’t I accept that and stop shaming myself for taking a mental break in the evenings? 

How do others reconcile down time? I know I have a hard time accepting that it’s OK to chill out and read a book, watch some TV, or otherwise relax. Hell, my favorite activity at home is taking a bath-and I have a feeling it’s both because that’s multitasking (relaxing AND cleanlliness!) and because I’m literally trapped in hot water and don’t get distracted into cleaning that dust bunny, doing dishes, or whatever but can focus on the book I can’t seem to let myself read on the couch, but am perfectly cool with reading in the tub. And honestly-it’s gotten harder since my surgery in November. It’s like since I don’t and won’t have the distraction of kids, I feel obligated to be productive with my free time and “should be” pursuing some higher learning or something noble. What that really is? I have no idea. I usually just end up feeling mildly self loathing while watching Orange Is the New Black on Netflix-even though I know it’s not “bad”. 

I’d love to hear your thoughts. But for now, I’ll go back to watching an interchangeable episode of House Hunters on HGTV and spotting 10 things I’d love to do to my home but will probably never get the gumption to actually attempt. 

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4 thoughts on “Reconciling your “should do’s” and your “do-do’s”

  1. Not sure if you had the chance to check out my ‘people without kids’ post from the other day, but there were definitely folks who felt that they needed to somehow justify not having kids.

    Throughout our lives many of us feel the need to prove ourselves to someone, real or imagined – sometimes that is a positive drive, other times it is a negative consumption of our energy.

    Let me say two things:
    – You don’t need to justify your life or choices to anyone.
    – Just as rest from exercise is important, so is rest from everyday life. Whether that is watching TV, movies, video games, or whatever … doesn’t matter.

    • I am going to hop over and read your post right now-I’m sure lately it seems like I have more than two cents to give on that topic!

      You’re right that nobody owes any other person a justification of their choices (but if my husband is doing something way out in left field, you’d better believe I’ll ask for an explanation anyway!)-I have a hard time justifying down time to myself. The internal judgement is the harshest of them all-it’s like “Mommie Dearest” looping in my brain about what a good woman does with her time. I’m never going to have the most spotless house on the block-but somehow I mentally chastise myself for not trying hard enough TO have spotless floors without a single dog hair on them. It’s an ebb and flow, and right now I’m on a guilt ebb-it seems to happen more in the Summer. I will feel guilty for not spending every ounce of daylight being productive in the yard. And then I’ll be outside 5 minutes, slap off 3 mosquitos, and run screaming for the house. I can’t win in my own mind until I can start redirecting some of that energy that’s negative into really learning a hobby, enjoying my dinner, or engrossed in a book.

  2. For what it’s worth, I don’t think it’s any “easier” when you do have kids. I still find myself myself having to justify what I do in my free time. I hear a lot, “Oh, that’s so nice that you read/sew/whatever. I’d like to do that, but I just don’t have time. I’m so busy devoting my life to little Tommy here, I just don’t have a moment of free time.”

    Clearly, it’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation.

    • I wish it was easier to accept internally that your interests are your interests, and if they make you happy then you should do them. I enjoy watching Orange is the New Black, even though it causes me to call my husband “b****” in casual conversation for hours after watching an episode. Does that mean I’m squandering my free time? No, I’m enjoying myself, but not as much as I would be if I could totally pay attention and not be thinking “you should be scrubbing the kitchen tiles right now!” I wish we could all realize that our interests and hobbies are basically what’s keeping us sane, so no judgement either way on what floats someone’s boat.

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