Gearing up for the nonprofit’s event got me thinking. The event will help fire wives prepare for fire season. And as I was mowing lawns yesterday…yes it has already started…the mowing of lawns. The concept of Fire Wife Overtime came to mind. Let me explain my thinking behind it and give some tools to get through it.
So, as I was thinking of how fire season is coming and the things we fire spouses face, one of the things was overtime. Whether it is voluntary or forced we face it and have to deal with more time apart and a whole lot more on our plates at home. We essentially are on “Overtime” as well. Wearing 2 hats in all areas of life. Whether that overtime lasts a day, few days, weeks or months we are on the home front hustling to keep it on a semi functional norm. We are in Fire Wife Overtime.
This last month has really started my thinking towards this. We went from our normal manageable schedule to a new crazy schedule. My firefighter started a new position changing his shift days and at the same time both my girls started softball on top of their dance and violin schedules. And a five week sewing class. (Insert palm face emoji) Not to mention we have been homeschooling this year and nonprofit events. With the new schedule change a lot of the things have fallen in my lap. Which as a fire wife my instinct of years of trained OT (overtime) days kicked in and I put my head down and get the things done. I tell myself it’s only a full month of crazy and we will be back to a calmer schedule. But, I also wanted to dive into a couple things that help me stay sane and grounded.
Starting my day off with a plan. It may look something like this homeschool, lunch, clean one or two things (time dependent), workout, kid’s practice, dinner, bed. Knowing what the day looks like helps me plan accordingly. My oldest is really good, almost too good about reminding me, or asking me what the days plan is. She has even admitted to me it is her favorite thing to ask about. Ha! And of course I let her know it is my least favorite question. I think she’s catching on to me and my routine. But, within that routine or schedule there are a couple things that help. Taking a moment in the day to pause and be in the moment. This usually is my morning time with coffee, prayer and my Bible. It is a time where I can not be concerned with a schedule or “what’s next” as my daughter would ask. It’s a time to just be present within myself. This is a huge thing to have as part of your day and is extremely helpful. Staying grounded is a tool and is needed to help with FWOT. (fire wife overtime) can you tell I am a fire wife with all my acronyms, haha!
Another tool for your tool belt is really being in tune with yourself and your capacity of stress. Stress can be good and it can be bad. When it starts getting bad knowing how to pump the breaks and ask myself, “what can I say no to?” Saying no to things that overwhelm or bring negative stress is a sign that I need to start doing just that. Say no. We as fire wives or S.O.’s can get in the mindset of we can do it all. Reality and life experience tells me that’s wrong. We cannot do it all. We were never meant to. It’s an important thing to be okay with. Understanding where our threshold is and that if we need to say no it is not failing! I repeat IT IS NOT FAILING! In fact it is the opposite. It allows us and our families to flourish and thrive. No, is such a powerful boundary when we learn to use it in a healthy manner. There will be seasons where it is too much and there will be seasons where we handle it like a boss. You have permission to say no when you need to.
Which brings me to my last tool(s). A support system. I for YEARS did not have this and often felt alone and like no one understood my life or what I was going through. I wish I could go back and tell myself to find friends who have the same lifestyle, they’ll make all the difference. These friends get you in a whole other way that no one else will, and without even explaining anything. It is a breath of fresh air! And as important as I said learning to say no to stressful things, it is just as important to learn to say yes! Yes, to help. With my crazy schedule I spoke about earlier there were 3 games that landed at the exact same time as my other daughter’s dance time. My first thought was well they’ll have to take turns missing because I cannot be two places at once. Then I stopped myself and realized I needed to ask for support and help. I reached out to three people to help cover these games while I took the other to dance. Guess what? They all said yes! And were happy to help. I felt empowered by being humble enough to say I don’t have this and I need help. I was excited I could allow my girls to not miss something they love, and they were excited to have others who wanted to watch them. Saying yes to help is an important tool as well as having those in your life who understand you to the fullest. Our firefighters don’t face their jobs and all their overtime alone, so, why should we?
These simple tools may seem just that, simple. But for me they were and are life changing. I went from resenting and overwhelming feelings of schedules to supported and empowered. To be able to have my schedule, say no when it isn’t bringing joy and recognize when I need to say yes to support and my tribe for help. These tools help me when my Fire Wife Overtime gets to be more then I can handle. And I hope they help you as well.
If you are lacking a support system, please reach out. We are here for you and often host events to help build that community.