The Tired Thirties. This phrase, first coined by Sloan Wilson in Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, was used to describe that period for businessmen when they tried to balance family life with the long hours and demands of working their way up the corporate ladder. It has since been taken over by young mothers after Madeleine L’Engle used the term to describe her own experience in raising small children.
We’re certainly right in the middle of the tired thirties. The girls are at a demanding stage. Even if they can play independently, that only goes so far. And the routine itself can get monotonous: breakfast, get ready, school/playdate/errands/activity, lunch, naptime/quiet rest, late afternoon destruction of house, dinnertime, bedtime, repeat.
And yet, I can’t bring myself to use the tired thirties as an excuse. I am tired but when I take a look at what is most life-giving in this phase, it is the very thing that makes me most tired.
I suppose that’s the way it goes. What makes us most happy, what gives us the most joy, is what we give our time and energy to. Whether it’s children, a job, a calling, these things energize and fill. And they also can be consuming and draining.
There’s the balance – that happy medium. In many ways, it’s harder to draw the same boundaries around my children than I can about volunteering or work. I can’t just be done with mothering.
So I’m getting more creative in ways I can be less tired. Sometimes this means spending more time with the girls, since they do thrive on that routine. Sometimes it means taking time for myself. Mostly it means constantly changing my expectations and what works because what works yesterday most likely won’t work tomorrow.
And I’m learning that the reason these tired thirties are so tiring is probably the best reason to be tired.
How do you balance the tiring with the life-giving? Are they easy to separate or are they intertwined?
Linked with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt is Middle.