I have seen a few posts written by others on this topic, and it holds for me as well.
Not so long ago, but what seems like forever ago I worked in a different industry. I didn’t have kids and was trying to prove myself to so many people. To colleagues, to managers, to my family of how hard I should be working.
My main fear was however letting down my employer. I was at a place where I was trying to make a good impression and wanted to grow within a large corporation. I would constantly say yes to the most insane things you could think of. Some such examples were going into work very early in the morning, or late at night depending on where you look at it. On several occasions, I did this, to either let the cleaners in as the managers didn’t want to themselves (I missed going to a friend of my wife’s birthday for that one and got in a tonne of trouble). Another time I went in at 2 am to take over baking from one of the bakers (I am not a baker). The most ridiculous one I did, however, I agreed to a month-long stint as a relief manager at a store an hour and a half drive away. I was driving 3 hours every day on top of working a 9-10hr day.
It wasn’t up until a couple of years ago that once I went part-time working that I started putting the focus back on myself. I was a little older and in a (I still call it new even though I have been there for nearly five years) new job, which didn’t have such unrealistic expectations on their staff members.
I have recently been called into shifts, and while the old me would have agreed to them without even consulting with my wife, the new me has started to say no more regularly. If things are needing to be done around the house, then I have been prioritising that now more than I used to. Even as I wrote this article I had a phone call asking if I could go into a store and assist. I no longer feel guilty about saying no.
I use a bit of a phrase these days, called the oxygen mask scenario. You put your mask on first, then put others’ masks on. Well, I am finally putting my own on first, and it feels great.