Embracing Dave Ramsey’s principle of gazelle intensity, beginning last fall I increased my work substantially while also caring for my children at home. While I love what I am doing, it is becoming increasingly hard to balance my work commitments with my family commitments.
On one hand, gazelle intensity has been great for our family. In a little over 3 months, we have paid down $7,262.44 on our credit card and student loan debt. The credit card debt especially troubles me, so I am excited to see that our gazelle intensity has reduced it by 33%, dropping it from a high of $20,316.33 on October 20, 2011 to $13,582 as of February 2, 2012. Still, in addition to the remaining credit card debt, we have $37,121.37 in student loan debt, so it will be some time, even with gazelle intensity, before we are completely out of debt.
On the other hand, Dave Ramsey never addresses the fact that a gazelle cannot be intense 24/7. Even a gazelle must rest. While I want to get out of debt as quickly as possible, I also must temper it with the fact that I want to appreciate and enjoy my life now also. My children will only be small and at home with me during the day for a few more years. In fact, my middle child starts preschool in August, and our “baby” follows behind her one year later. There are only 18 more months I will have children at home with me during the mornings. Do I want to spend those months bleary-eyed and exhausted all in a quest to pay down debt as quickly as possible?
If you are in the midst of gazelle intensity and struggling to balance your extra workload with family life, here are four ways to determine if gazelle intensity is affecting your personal relationships:
1. You experience lifestyle creep to keep working as hard as you are. Because I can no longer fit in all my work during naps, at night, and on the weekend, I have had to hire a babysitter two mornings a week so I can work, which adds an expense of $300 a month to our budget. We also sometimes go to a place where the kids can play and I can get work done while staying on site. This is another $34 a week, or $140 a month. Now, out of pocket I am paying $300 to $440 just to work more.
In addition, now that I am earning more, I am having to set aside a portion of my earnings to pay taxes, which wasn’t an issue previously. Between paying for a babysitter and having to set aside money for taxes, I don’t think I am actually making much more than I was before my workload grew so much.
2. Your children’s behavior is changing negatively. My middle child, who is usually fairly independent, has become clingy. She cries now when I am away from her for any amount of time, and she is always afraid I am going to leave here. While she likes playing with the babysitter, she would prefer that I sit with her; she sometimes cries when I go in the other room to work.
3. You have no time for yourself or for basic household chores. I am so busy that I have trouble finding time to pay the bills or clean the house. I do still pay the bills (of course!) and clean, but I never feel that I can give my time and concentration to one activity because I have so many more vying for my attention. In addition, I would love to have just a bit of time to relax.
4. You spouse suggests a post “3 Reasons Why Gazelle Intensity Isn’t Working for Your Family.” Yes, this post, while an important one to write, was the brain child of my husband, who is clearly feeling the effects of our gazelle intensity. We have very little time to spend together, and we are both feeling the effects of that.
We are not giving up gazelle intensity, but we are finding that it may be time to become a little less gazelle intense. I am paring down some of my work to get a bit more balance in my life, but we will still be snowflaking. In addition, I plan to ramp up my work efforts when my girls are in preschool. For now, I am going to slow down just a bit so I can enjoy my children when they are small. My son is proof of how quickly this time goes.
Photo courtesy of rexboggs5