I’m feeling a little ambitious today, so in this blog post I’m going to attempt to address two problems I often struggle with:
- How to find the balance between working and relaxing in my ever increasing desire for self-improvement and
- How to not judge my spouse on how he chooses to balance working and relaxing.
Surprisingly I’ve found my answer in the same principle.
It’s the principle of 8/8/8.
“One of President Young’s daughters recalled that he had taught: “Life is best enjoyed when time periods are evenly divided between labour, sleep and recreation. All men, women and children should labour; all must sleep; and if mental and physical balance is to be maintained, all people should spend one-third of their time in recreation which is rebuilding, voluntary activity—never idleness. ‘Eight hours work, eight hours sleep, and eight hours recreation’ was Brigham Young’s motto.”
Now you know.
Now, I’m not sure if I’m on board with these ratios to a tee, but here’s how the idea has helped my problems:
Problem #1: How To Find the Balance Between Working and Relaxing.
I have this problem with self-improvement. I’ll get really motivated and jazzed about improving some area in my life- be it cleaning, blogging, cooking, or scripture reading. I read books about it, I make plans. I carry out the plans and devote myself to the task. This motivation mojo typically lasts about two weeks and then I inevitably crash.
It makes me wonder sometimes if it’s even worth raising the bar on myself if it’s just going to make me feel unsatisfied for the rest of time.
I was posing this problem to my wise friend Josalyn via email and she gave me the perfect response in letting me know about the 8/8/8 rule. I’m just going to copy and paste what she has to say about it:
“You have to decide when your 8 hours of work are. What do you want to accomplish? What are the most important things?
Also, you have to forgive yourself for the 8 other hours. You can’t be on all the time. You can’t. No one can. Now at first I rebelled and said ‘no way I can do more than 8 hours!’ and I found that I can, but the next day I can’t even do the regular 8, I do six or four. So I think overall this is a pretty true principle.
As mothers we have to remember this. It’s a 24 hour job but we can only do 8. Julie Beck says make 3 columns. Things that have to get done in a day, things that should and things that would be nice. I have to tell you since I’ve had kid #4 here, my definition of what has to get done each day has changed. I’ve had to let a lot of things go. I do the important things first thing and then I relax a little in the afternoon before Brenda gets home so she can get a couple of my good 8 hours. I try to save one for David.”
This principle can be a little tricky when it comes to comparing each others working and relaxing hours. Life in general tends to get a little tricky when we compare ourselves too much, but we do it all the time. We think, “wait a minute, my friend is productive ALL DAY LONG! How come I’m totally burnt out after lunch?” Well, some people’s do whatever they want time can look a lot like productivity to the outside observer.
For instance, for maybe the first time in my life, exercise is actually one of my ‘relax’ hours. I actually like running. I like the release it provides, I like listening to my podcasts and I like feeling refreshed outside. At most all other times in my life however, exercise has been a ‘work’ hour. My friend Shelly is able to get INSANE amounts of what looks to me an awful lot like ‘work’- namely documenting her life, blogging and doing family history work. These things are work to me, but she LOVES doing it. It gives her energy. We just can’t compare each others working and relaxing hours- it’s different for everyone, you just have to figure out how to balance it for YOU.
Ok, now for how this principle has helped my marriage:
Problem #2: How to Not Judge Your Spouse on How They Choose to Balance Working and Relaxing
I’m about to disclose a thought that I’m a little embarrassed to admit pops into my head all the time. It is this: I feel occasionally like my work as a stay at home mom is more difficult than my husband’s work.
Because of this thought that wedges itself into my brain despite my attempts at ignoring it, I have this tendency to want to make my husband do LOTS OF WORK when he comes home to compensate for this perceived discrepancy.
My day’s work tends to consist of things like patiently and urgently encouraging my children to get their shoes on in under an hour, picking up all of my life’s possessions up off the floor about 10 times a day, or dealing with kids fighting to the death over the only pink cup in the house (why can I only ever find one pink cup?!) Meanwhile I have this image of my husband happily sitting by himself (all alone! amazing!) at his little computer whistling while he types doing his little research thing.
While I’m thinking this, he’s actually at work dealing with helping out his co-workers, complying with the demands of his boss, dealing with his failed experiments, the stress of deadlines and meanwhile he has the image of me happily getting to stay in my pajamas all day while the kids watch TV doing whatever I want.
I tend to completely discredit any of Rich’s hours he clocks in at work as part of his “8 hours” because, to me, he hasn’t been doing “real work,” which I define as MY work. He comes home and my mind unconsciously thinks “Great, he’s got all 8 hours of his work time left!”
When really, by the time he gets home, he has already put quite a few of his 8 hours of work in at, ya know, his WORK. Most of them actually. He comes home and he’s ready for his relax hours.
I think quite a few moms and dads out there are like us.
Wanna know how I know? Because we talk about it all the time. Case in point: I recently was invited to a Facebook group for moms. It’s basically a closed, safe place for women to ask honest, open questions to each other that they don’t want to ask to their whole Facebook feeds. Questions about birth control or depression or tactics on how to sneak ice cream without your kids noticing. You know, the essentials. It’s also become a perfect breeding ground for discussing husbands.
In a recent thread on this Facebook group, one of the ladies posed the question, “Why on earth does it take my husband 30 minutes to go to the bathroom at home!?!” To which there were about 30 responses saying things like, “I thought my husband was the only one!!” and, “Seriously! Every night! (usually right around the time I’m making dinner and my kids are crazy)” and, “Let me guess, he’s got his phone in there with him??”
Now, let me preface by saying, I don’t actually know any of these people. It could be that their husbands really need to help their wives out more (it very well could be! in which case, inventory that issue). It could be that they all have some serious type of irritable bowel syndrome.
Realizing that Rich has already spent a lot of his 8 hours at work and wants some relax time when he comes home has made me more forgiving and understanding. Realizing he generally feels exactly the same way I do at the end of the day has saved me from bitterness and has improved our marriage.
So let’s give ourselves and our spouses license to take breaks when we need to. Let’s realize that no one can be “on” every waking hour of the day. Let’s recognize and celebrate each others work so the breaks will be more enjoyable.
Ready?? Ok, break!