My husband and I both work full time in jobs where we are juggling hectic work schedules. Increasingly, cost of living pressures mean, where there are two parents in a family household they both need to be working. This is certainly the case in our family.
We share the responsibilities of running our busy household where we live with my two step daughters, two dogs and one bird. Like many people we also live some distance from our workplaces, which means that I spend an average of two and a half hours a day travelling to and from work. Like many cities, Melbourne is experiencing a geographic spread and while many people make the decision to live on the suburban fringe for financial reasons, we made the decision to live far from work so my step daughters could live as part of the one community, whether they are at home at their mum's place or at home at our place.
We have also just entered our second year of marriage and are mindful of positively investing time in our relationship so it continues to remain strong. We know this will be important preparation for the challenging times we can expect in the future (despite being blissfully happy we are realistic enough to know that every relationship faces challenges at one time or another).
Parenting my step-daughters takes a lot of time and energy too. Any parent will know there's school pick up and drop off, after school activities (this term we have had swimming, dancing, gymnastics, tennis and netball; it's no wonder the girls are exhausted by the time the weekend arrives) extended family catch ups, library visits, play dates, general medical appointments, as well as some scheduled family down-time to just relax and have some unstructured fun time together.
Whether we live in a large city or a country town the latest technology means our socialising activities aren't constrained by the opening hours of locations we usually meet up with our friends. We can be active and social 24 hours a day on facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Google Plus, etc. I have friends who have found it hard to sleep in the early hours of the morning and so they have logged on to Facebook to check their wall. It is becoming increasingly challenging for people to switch off and be uncontactable
We are all busy
In summary, we are all busy! So I really appreciated it when last night my husband reminded me, in my haste to do everything and be everything that everyone wanted me to be, to just pause and re-focus and connect with my priorities.
So what are my priorities? It is very easy for me to answer this question. My family takes priority. Yet while the question is easy to answer, the more challenging aspect is demonstrating my priority consistently through my actions. I am not proud to say that it can be easier at times to choose to disappoint my family than anyone else. I think this is because I am confident that my family will forgive me for doing this.
As someone who likes to please people (yes, I am the first born child in my family!) I struggle with disappointing people and so I like the relationship to be restored as quickly as possible. I know that will happen with my family faster than anyone else.
We can look to the bible for direction from Jesus about how we should set our priorities in life: Jesus said "My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work." John 4:34.
Merewyn Foran is married and a marketing director of a not for profit homelessness agency in Melbourne.
Merewyn Foran's archive of previous articles can be found at www.pressserviceinternational.org/merewyn-foran.html