Choose your poison, but don't let it kill you

Day 17 of my series on Work-Life Balance

poi·son
noun
noun: poison; plural noun: poisons
  1. a person, idea, action, or situation that is considered to have a destructive or corrupting effect or influence.

So what's the whole idea about poison and the working mom? Life is stressful and everyone needs a break sometimes. Most people find their poison of choice in shopping, gambling, alcohol, drugs, coffee bla bla bla. In the context of this post, your poison is that thing that helps you relax but if uncontrolled can also be destructive.

For me, it's shopping. I love to shop and I shop to relax. I can jump off the couch at 9pm determined to go buy some milk immediately. Can it wait? Probably. It's not really the milk, it's my desire to just unwind/relax/decompress by being in a store. That's not a bad thing. The worst thing you can do to yourself is refuse to find something that helps you relax - one day you're gonna blow and it won't be pretty. 

That's what I tell myself. Retail therapy is my favorite form of therapy. When does it become destructive? 
  • When you buy 5 pairs of shoes in one trip and "keep" them in the car so your spouse doesn't know.
  • When you're running up a credit balance on discretionary purchases faster than you're making money
  • When college and retirement savings accounts stay empty because all spare cash goes with you to the mall every weekend
How do I control my need to shop?
  • Window-shopping: Recognizing that I just want to walk around the store for 30 minutes and buying is optional
  • Budgeting and setting price limits: That's one of the reasons I held on to my $10 rule for buying the girls' clothes for so long. We have an annual budget for kid stuff and I have a clothes budget that I try to stick to
  • Ignore marketing gimmicks: I've found that sales and once-in-a-lifetime-price ads make me want to buy immediately. However, I've also learnt that no matter how good a sale price is, it'll always come back so nothing has to be purchased now. Did y'all know that Banana Republic (in Canada at least) has 40% off every Wednesday? A random stranger told me that last month and I've found it to be true! So yeah, that fantastic sale price will always come back

Occasionally, I'll have a glass of wine after the kids are in bed but I also recognize that extremes can make any good thing go bad. Just like a glass of wine can be relaxing but passed out drunk every night will strain a family. So if I feel myself needing more than a customary glass, it's time for a self-check.

When work gets crazy and you need to do stuff to decompress; go right ahead. Your mind and your family will thank you for it.  When you feel your habit getting out of hand, pull back, set controls in place, get help, change your work situation, change jobs, DO SOMETHING

Relaxed happy working mother = relaxed happy kids

To paraphrase, "what doesn't make you stronger could kill you".

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