I Blame the Telephone (Or What a Week off Routine Taught Me About My Normal Life)

I blame the telephone (or, what a week off routine taught me about my normal life) | Modern Mrs Darcy

I blame the telephone (or, what a week off routine taught me about my normal life) | Modern Mrs Darcy

I spent last week as a “traditional working mom.” Objectively, the week went really well, so I couldn’t figure out why I was so exhausted when I got home each day. All I wanted to do was crash on my bed myself with a good book–at 5:30 p.m. That’s not normal for me.

My normal life is pretty demanding, too. I spend my days writing and homeschooling my kids, wrangling little mischief-makers, and working at the very same office where I worked all last week.

It took me 4 or 5 days to figure out what I was missing.  

When I’m at work, I usually shut myself up in my office and do my thing. I work independently and rarely pick up the phone. But I was filling in for a honeymooning coworker, and a big part of her job is to talk on the phone all day long. And I hate talking on the phone. This is fairly common for introverts like me.

I felt like I talked all day long. No wonder I felt drained.

Realizing why I felt so wiped out made me realize how well I’ve structured my regular, everyday life: We have book basket time. We listen to audiobooks. I’ve gotten some homeschool help to take the load off me, so I can focus individually on each child (and keep the noise level down). We have two hours of quiet time every afternoon where no one talks.

But last week at the office, I felt like I spent all day on the phone–without any breaks for book basket time, or an audiobook. I definitely didn’t get 2 peaceful hours of quiet time.

Last week was draining because I was off routine, and putting out fires, but it took me a week to figure out that it was also hard because the schedule didn’t suit my temperament.

I learned a lot of things from my week as a “working mom,” but my most important lesson may have been what I was doing right in my everyday life.

Is there anybody else out there who feels completely drained by the telephone?


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  1. sarah says:

    Oh, i completely relate. I detest talking on the phone too. That would be exhausting. I like that you have a full 2 hours of quiet in the afternoon each day for your kids. This sounds doable.

      • Katina says:

        I would LOVE to know how you worked up to your 2 hours! I’m an extreme introvert mom who homeschooling my 5 & 6 year old children wears me out to the point I’m starting to look at work-outside of the house jobs!

        • Anne says:

          Practice practice practice! And movies. And sometimes snacks. And we have good days and bad days, but the balance has shifted towards good days as time goes on.

  2. Katherine says:

    I’m not much of a phone talker either because it eats time. Have you done a post on your normal schedule? When book basket, audio book and the 2 hours when everyone is quiet? I’d love to see a post on that.

  3. Naomi says:

    I am a Management Accountant in my day job so i do not talk on the phone, talking on the phone or having to talk to people all day can be so draining, i used to be a hairdresser and that used to wipe me out. I could never get away with 2 hours no talking in my house because i live with chatterboxes that could not be quiet for 5 mins let alone 2hrs.

    • Anne says:

      Naomi, we really had to build up to the 2 hours. At first we could barely make it through 5 minutes! I’m a little nervous about how things will develop over the next few months, because I suspect my 3-year-old won’t be napping much longer, and that’s going to seriously impact our rest time dynamic.

      • Naomi says:

        The naps will soon stop, my son is 4 and he is a chatterbox, i think if i suggest quiet time i will be laughed out the room. I could do with at least a hour with no none talking to me lol.

  4. Jillian Kay says:

    I can’t stand the phone. That would wipe me out too. I have this micromanager at work who insists I call people instead of email. I hate it, and I suspect the people (other programmers) I call hate it too.

  5. I’ve instituted quiet time for an hour and a half, and it’s so good for our whole family. I’ve done book basket time in the past, but we have gotten away from it. I need to start again. We have to start with five minutes and work up to 15 or 30. It’s the working up to it that I don’t want to do. But, I need more time in the day where my kids can only choose reading as an activity. They love books, but they love when I read to them, and they don’t always choose reading a book as a play activity. Oh, and the phone completely drains me. I need a nap after long phone conversations.

    • Naomi says:

      My son is learning to read at the moment and he does it with real reluctance he would rather me read the book to him. That reminds me i must look up ways of trying to make it easier for me to teach him. lol @ ‘i need a nap after long conversations’

      • Anne says:

        Kelly, my oldest son LOVES to read…unless I tell him he “has to.” So if reading is the only activity available to him at any one moment, he sulks…but if he can choose from pretty much anything, he happily reads!

        My husband and I are trying to figure out how to work through this. I’m open to suggestions. 🙂

  6. The phone is the most exhausting thing ever. I’ve done jobs where I needed to be on the phone a lot and it’s so draining. For me, I need the eye contact and body language to process and person’s words, so the phone makes me work harder to “get” what they need than if they were just standing in front of me.

    • Anne says:

      Interesting: I never thought about how it’s literally more draining because your brain has so much work to do, decoding the verbal messages without the benefit of the nonverbal ones. It doesn’t just feel harder; it is harder!

  7. Erin says:

    While I much prefer talking on the phone to people than talking to them in person, I’ve recently rediscovered instant messenger for talking with my co-workers. Its great to take away some of the time I was spending on the phone, when I needed to ask them a question.

    I can go days without talking to anyone, but there are also times I can’t. I’ve never thought about how it drains me, but that explains why I am tired when I get home from work.

  8. Tina B says:

    Oh yes, I hear you. As an introvert, I chose the profession of computer programmer-analyst. I prefer to sit and “talk” to my computer all day and, if those who need something from me would email their requests, that’s all the better.

    On the days where I have to be on the phone or worse, talking to people in person, I’m totally drained. It’s exhausting and all I want to do is go back to my office, alone, and get back to normal.

  9. melyssa says:

    I hate phone conversations too. I don’t know why really: I don’t like not seeing the person’s face (though I hate skype too, so that can’t be it), I don’t like the way my ear gets tired, I don’t like the hassle of call waiting beeping at me, I don’t like not quite hearing what the other person says and having say “excuse me” more than once, etc. When texting first came out I thought it was only going to be for teens and the first time someone texted me I was like, ugh! call me! I’m not 13! But now I love texting. My big brother left me a message the other day and I still haven’t called him back, which is just silly.

    • Anne says:

      “When texting first came out I thought it was only going to be for teens and the first time someone texted me I was like, ugh! call me! I’m not 13! But now I love texting.”

      Hahaha! I get this. 🙂

  10. Meredith says:

    I work in the “traditional” working mom role of 40 hours a week in an office and I am an introvert too. There was one particular day at work where I had meetings from 7:45 until 5:00 solid – no breaks. I even met with people during lunch. These were all where I had to be actively engaged and speaking. When I got home I was mentally and physically exhausted. A day or two later I remembered something I read about personality types. Introverts get energy from quiet time alone, extroverts get their energy from engagement with others. So last week your introverted self was not able to rebuild your energy in your quiet time. I wonder if I can institute your 2 hours quiet time at my office. 🙂

  11. Corrie Anne says:

    I’m kind of a phone hater! When I started teaching piano lessons, I had to make quite a few phone calls to parents and students. Now I’ve trained most of them that they will get a faster response to text or email. 🙂

  12. Deb says:

    Thank you for the affirmation that there is nothing wrong with us. We just need to understand what feeds us and what exhausts us.

  13. Stacey says:

    Reading all this is so interesting. I actually love talking on the phone- or think I do! I just recently have learned that while I used to think that being busy, busy, busy made me happy, quite the opposite is really true. Now I’m wondering about the phone 🙂

  14. Maggie B says:

    I spend a lot of my work life on the phone. It’s become so bad now that I don’t like answering the phone at home during week nights. Weekends are ok. Once in a while, after a really long day at work, I’ve answered my home phone with the same greeting I give at work. “Hello and thank you for calling…”

    Kill me.

    • Anne says:

      This makes me think of when I was little: I loved getting phone calls but my dad never answered the phone. He always said he talked more than enough on the phone at the office.

  15. Me. I hate talking on the phone. My boss could talk all day and all night. I’m perfectly content never picking the darn thing up, but the last two weeks have had me on more conference calls and training calls than I care to count. I’m ready to be a hermit again, thankyouverymuch.

  16. Jim says:

    I actually like talking on the phone–assuming the person on the other end is interesting and upbeat. If we are talking Ben Stein–just shoot me now. Plus, I attempt to make jokes. No pressure on the phone. In person…well you can tank it some there. On the phone, you can blame it on poor reception or just fly past it like you weren’t really attempting a joke. (Win-win there.)

  17. Yes! I hate the phone. And I’ve long believed that the key to work happiness is finding work that’s a good fit for who we are. It took me years to figure out that teaching really isn’t the thing for an introvert like me. I could do it (and do it pretty well) but it ate up everything I had. Still don’t have quite the right fit, but it’s better.

  18. Jeannie says:

    As with your post yesterday, I can so relate. I don’t like talking on the phone either and when I call someone always feel a twinge of hope that the person won’t be home and I can leave a message. Unless it’s a business: then I’m miffed if they don’t pick up (don’t they know how important I am?) 🙂

    A bit related: our son was home almost 24/7 for ten days due to a bad cold that we couldn’t bear to send him to school or church with. That was hard b/c as an introvert I need my daily alone time. I’m so happy he’s back to school … and he is too.

  19. Oh, I totally relate. When I was a teenager, my mom would call me to check in after school. We set up a special code (two rings, hang up, call again) so that I would actually answer the phone when she called!
    Worse than the telephone, for me anyway, is interacting with strangers all day long. I was a critical care nurse for about 5 years. 12 hours of interacting with patients, families, and every department in the hospital left me feeling like I was an empty shell. I would come home and fall asleep sitting upright on the couch because I was so miserable and exhausted.
    I didn’t know I was an introvert until recently – I just always thought I was strange.

  20. Shelly says:

    Hi Anne,

    I just LOVE your blog. I really thought I was the only one who HATES the phone!!!
    I thought I must be weird, especially since it seems like girls are supposed to LOVE talking on the phone…it is DRAINING!! I also need to see people in person…to get the nonverbals.
    Thanks for writing and please know how much I look forward to reading your posts. You have illuminated, explained, helped, and given awesome tips to me. I am so grateful!

  21. Elizabeth Kane says:

    I love everything my phone can do – except for the whole “talk” part (what it was made for in the beginning). When I was a kid, I *loved* talking on the phone. But now? Not so much. It’s all about text, email, or seeing someone in person. I feel the same kind of “drain” from the phone that you’re talking about. It’s like I need recovery after I hang up!

  22. HopefulLeigh says:

    This makes perfect sense! When I was still actively working as a social worker, I was always drained at the end of the day because my job required me to talk or listen to people all day. And while I enjoyed it the majority of the time, it took so much out of me. When I worked for hospice, I was grateful for the built in break of driving to see the next patient. For both jobs, I made sure I had at least an hour after work where I could just BE. No listening, no talking, just resting and reading. My roommates mostly respected this rule.

    You’d think with my current job, I’d be more open to talking on the phone but that’s not necessarily true. Unless I’m talking with a good friend. 🙂

  23. Jennifer H says:

    If this was a FB post, I would just hit the “like” button 🙂 Talking on the phone is one of the reasons I have been so worn out since taking on more hours these past two weeks, along with an ex-coworkers duties which include talking on the phone A LOT. This week I have taken to putting my phone on the DND (do not disturb) setting for a couple hours of the day, and then I just return the messages later (and like Jeannie, another commenter, I hope to get their voice-mail lol).

    Thanks for a post that resonates with so many of us.

  24. Karlyne says:

    It”s been years since I worked in an office and had to talk on the phone continually, but I still remember the utter exhaustion of those days. I much prefer digging ditches. I even prefer cleaning the bathroom! And, yes, I love texting and seeing the phone number of whoever is calling come right up on the phone screen — so I can decide if I want to answer or not. Some technologies are lovely!

  25. Iris says:

    I’m with you! I’ve come to recognize the warning signs that my introvert needs are being neglected. I’m also with you in recovering from those not being met- we had some extroverted house guests for two weeks, and although it was lovely, my soul is gasping for air!

  26. Becca says:

    I experienced this exactly just a few months ago! I had the offer of some more lucrative office work for a few days and each day I was completely exhausted. For me, though, it was the “change is as good as a rest” principle. At home, it’s so easy to put on laundry, walk the dog, prepare dinner when I’m feeling bogged down. It always refreshes me!

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