Downshifting To Enough

There’s a whole mess of change in our house right now.

Not this kind of change.

Image: ntwowe /

Peanut started Kindergarten.  She is surrounded by new people and new rules, in a new place.

Instead of lazily rolling out of bed at 7am when the kids wake up, I now catapult out of a deliciously deep sleep at 5:30am when my alarm clock imitates a freight train next to my right ear.

My life sabbatical ended and I went back to work…to a new position with tons of opportunity and a steep learning curve.

I’m now home from work in time for the bus, which means my work day starts and ends very early.
Every one of these transitions is a healthy, positive change for our family.  But when it comes to change, it doesn’t really matter if it’s good or bad. 

Because change is hard.

 New routines mean that I can’t go on auto-pilot for any portion of my day.  My car doesn’t steer itself to work anymore; I have to think about where I’m going.  We haven’t fallen into a rhythm getting ready in time for the bus.  I don’t automatically know what I’m going to do when I get home.

I have to realize that it takes every minute of the day to be me right now.  Until this new life (job, schedule, routine) becomes second nature, I have to change the pace.  I can’t do or be everything so I need to back away from unnecessary commitments.  In all areas of my life, I have to slow down.

Slow. Your. Roll.

Image: domdeen /

As a new driver, I remember worrying about shifting gears.  Once I got the feel for the clutch, I would always over-think shifting from 1st to 2nd gear.  Or from 2nd to 3rd.  I was so afraid of gunning the engine or hearing that awful grinding of the gears.  Truth is, going faster requires only speed.  It’s the slowing down that takes skill.

Downshifting requires finesse.

And finesse takes time.

Image: graur codrin /

How do you downshift?

In order to slow things down, I save my energy to make up for the lack of auto-pilot time during my day.  There’s lots that I can do in a normal day that I can’t do right now.  For example, I won’t be making new friends in the next couple of weeks or be able to give a lot to my current ones.  I won’t be doing house projects or getting a head start on holiday planning.  I won’t be offering to guest post or getting ahead on my own blog posts.

In short, instead of making deposits to my energy bank account, I make withdrawals. 

Why downshift?

I realize that this doesn’t make my life sound like a lot of fun.  But there’s an important reason I do all of this.  I downshift so that during this tumultuous time,  I still have energy for what is really important.

I can be fully present when Peanut needs to melt down after a long day at school.

I can give my full attention at work when someone explains the political landscape of my new project.

Instead of losing my cool, I can take a breath when Pumpkin has a tantrum and realize that change is hard for her, too.  Even when that change is good, I-get-to-spend-more-time-at-home-with-my-family, change.

The beautiful thing about toddlers is that often their outsides mirror our insides.

How long do you have to stay in low gear?

Honestly, I don’t know.  A few weeks, maybe a couple months.  I know I’m ready to upshift when the thought of more social engagement, more responsibility, more visibility sounds appealing and fun.  Until then, I have faith that while everyone in my house may not be getting what they want from me, everyone is getting what they need.

And that is enough.



I am happily linking up with the Be Enough Me for Cancer campaign.  For every 20 linked up posts, Bellflower Books will provide a memory book to a woman fighting breast cancer through Crickett’s Answer for Cancer, and help bring a smile to courageous women giving it their all, every single day. No blog? No worries. You can also comment on the post or on the Just.Be.Enough. Facebook page with your own story and be counted.


I am ALSO linking up with Shell and her fabulous meme, Pour Your Heart Out.