I like having a schedule. Since I’ve been home with my daughter full time I haven’t really needed to take as much care with a schedule since our days are less structured and I simply don’t have the same volume of meetings, events and obligations as I did when I was working a nine-to-five – play dates aside, of course. Still, as a planner, I like to know when to expect things, and I like regularity. Call me boring, but there it is.

What I’ve come to realize, though, over the past several weeks of trying to reshape boundaries and priorities in my life is that, to a point, I need to let go of a schedule. Usually I like to have a routine for when I can work out; I like to know when I can expect “me” time – it makes me feel successful and on top of things when I have these activities penned in. I used to think that if I didn’t schedule exercise and free time in, I’d never find the time.

What scheduling myself so carefully really did, though, was pile on the guilt. If it was midterm week and I was buried in studying and a workout just wasn’t a priority that week – yes, all week – I’d beat myself up over it and assume I’m completely derailed and have negated any workouts I’d squeezed in to that point. If I kept forgetting to send that “thinking of you” text to my friend despite knowing how much they needed to receive it, I’d feel an incredible amount of guilt for being so selfishly consumed with my own stuff.

I’ve decided to ease up on myself a bit; be more forgiving. I wish exercise was more important to me to make it a top priority, but it’s not. There, I said it. Maybe someday it’ll take top billing, but right now I prioritize schoolwork over workouts. It’s simply where I’m at at this point in my life. Instead of pressuring myself into working out on certain days of the week, I’ll fit in exercise on the days I have a lighter load. I’ll sneak in a coffee date with a friend when I can, even if it can only happen following two weeks of flat-out craziness. These times and opportunities are going to shift from week to week, but I’m deciding to be okay with that and not read the inconsistency as failure.

The idea of going easy on myself feels more like self care than trying to do the “right” thing regularly, as laid out by a tightly kept schedule of expectations. As someone who likes their routine, I know this is going to take some getting used to on my part, but I hope that with some time and practice, a more easy going me – one that is forgiving of myself – will be a happier me.

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