There was a time in my late 20's and early 30's where I was obsessed with this idea of balancing the things in my life. I didn't take career very seriously, I was pretty fanatical about roller coasters, and coaching volleyball was emotionally taxing, even if it was rewarding. But I was pretty good at doing nothing and not feeling particularly bad about it. Things have changed, certainly, because now my priorities are trying (struggling) to be a good dad, and being more deliberate about my career progression. These can both be exhausting at times, but I'm not very good at relaxing.
Actually, I am good at relaxing, but the issue is that I don't feel good about it. I always feel like I should be doing something else, like engaging with Simon, thinking about work, exercising or cleaning the garage. Just kidding, there's nothing in the garage to clean. That's totally at odds with why I like to do nothing. I wouldn't go as far as saying that I meditate, but I do find ways to let my mind wander to places it doesn't have the bandwidth to at other times. I need that.
One of the things that genuinely helps is vacation. Turns out that's something I'm not good at either. The problem with unlimited PTO is that you aren't earning any to lose, so you have to be deliberate about taking time off. In my first year, I'm on track for only taking 16 days, instead of the 20 I did when it was earned time off. I'll get a few more within a few weeks after that, but still not 20.
And vacationing really helps, in the right context. Traveling without Simon is genuinely relaxing even going somewhere like New York, with all of the chaos that comes with a big city (specifically all of the walking and trains and such). And if we cruise with him, that's fairly relaxing too. We recently realized the hidden but obvious truth of why we do it so much: It's guaranteed that there's no issue finding things for him to eat, and he will without fail have plenty to do so we don't need to constantly supervise him. Cruises are total brain-off arrangements.
In the mean time, I'm trying to figure out how to optimize weekends. If I can get a few hours to go out and do whatever by myself, that helps (movies and bowling work well). If I make a specific plan to do stuff with Simon, that makes me feel better about doing something without him after he goes to bed or whatever. During the week, I find that doing things I enjoy just has to find a little time here and there... reading, Lego, coding, whatever... I just have to be deliberate about it.
I'm gonna keep practicing and get back into the relaxation zone. Man do I miss having a hot tub.