I remember - sometimes wistfully - when it was just me and my cats, and I could do whatever I wanted, on the spur of the moment, without considering anyone else's needs or feelings or prior commitments. (I could also sleep in until noon if I wanted, but that's a totally different post.)
Now there's TCB and the kids (Candace, Alcott, and their siblings) and Alouysius (the Pug), and my life is full of happiness and light all the time. Wait, no, that's not quite right. My life is full. And sometimes I'm happy and sometimes I'm not, but I'm seldom bored. I also have my wonderful volunteer opportunities with the Junior League and Just in Time for Foster Youth which are so very important to me. And time consuming. Letting others in has simultaneously complicated and enriched my life tremendously.
Balancing all of the many demands on my time starts with a real, honest-to-goodness paper calendar on my kitchen counter. While I have various electronic means of keeping track of my commitments, I still find it infinitely easier to hold the entire month in my hands and be able to flip back and forth between months. Add to that the fact that TCB puts his commitments on that same calendar and, although I cannot read what he's written, I can tell at a glance if one or both of us is committed for a future evening.
Once I've scoped out the calendar, sometimes it comes down to priorities: I can't do more than two activities on the same day and usually no more than three activities over a weekend. While it's physically and logistically possible to do more than that, I end up too stressed out to enjoy any of the activities.
It's always important for me to remember what's most important and put activities in support of those things first. For instance, the kids always come first unless to do so would endanger my health. Yes, they come before TCB - he knew that from the moment he met me and has always supported that priority without reservations. Next comes TCB, my parents, and the furkids. Family is at the heart of my heart, in essence. Finally I come to activities that take care of me physically and emotionally, like my diabetes and depression classes, 5K walks, and blog conferences. Sometimes though, I toss the pre-written rules and put myself first because I've reached the end of my rope and need to recharge before I can be there for anyone else.
While I miss my carefree bachelor girl days, I wouldn't trade all of the love in my life for the world. The trick is making it all work together and keeping the delicate balance.