Somewhere around this time of year six years ago, I remember sitting in my chiropractor’s office. She was suggesting that I do a couple of exercises to strengthen my back and shoulders to counter the effect of holding a baby all the time. She said that they would be simple and only take 1 minute. So I needed to take a second and figure out where I could fit that one minute of exercise in my day. My head reeled. I looked around the room feeling my face growing redder and hotter by the second. And then I knew there was no way to stop it. I burst into tears.
“Oh sweetie, you don’t have one minute. Do you?”
I didn’t. I really didn’t.
Of course now I sort of laugh at that idea. Only sort of though. I do really try to be kind to past me. She was doing the best she knew how. Yes, she had half as many children at that point, but she hasn’t been forced to learn some of the organizational and time management skills that I have had to learn the hard way. In fact, I don’t know how she did it back then.
I don’t think I could live with the lack of structure to my day that we had back then. Also, the lack of dishwasher. Anyway, but this post isn’t about six years ago. And although I’m back to that feeling of not having a single minute in my day, this really isn’t about now either.
It’s been grating on me of late. Not just because we’re moving and I feel like I need to spend every waking minute getting ready to move. That is true. But also, I feel like there’s something missing.
Something of me missing.
I tell myself I’m working on writing, it’s something I love, something that can possibly make an income, and something that won’t keep me from my family for a full time schedule. And yet I’m so completely absorbed in and crucial to the running of this family that I can’t seem to find time to step away and write. I used to write in the hour between when the girls went to bed and before me and Tommy started getting ready for bed. But that time is now consumed with putting exhausted toddlers to bed.
And then I’m just too tired. All I can muster at that point is to watch an episode of something on the couch and possibly doze off in the middle.
The days are not ideal for taking time to write either. Before bedtime is dinner/after school activities. Before that is school pick up. All day I have the toddlers and have to try to fit in grocery shopping, dishes, laundry, bill paying, and now getting the house ready for sale. Same goes for Tommy. It’s not like he is sitting around relaxing. He’s working more than full time, taking a class, studying, making school lunches, and doing dishes and laundry (yes, we share those chores).
The boys usually nap for an hour each day together, but I tend to use that time to work on whatever the most pressing need of the day is. This is not me saying “woah is me, I don’t have time to write.” It’s me saying, I don’t know how to fit it in. Really. I’ve taken a cold hard look at my schedule, and I just don’t see an opening.
Last week I was at the burst into tears level with it, but in the last few days I was listening to a podcast while working around the house.
It was The Simple Show by Tsh Oxenreider of the blog The Art of Simple. I don’t remember which episode it was (it could have been any of them since I just recently started listening), but Tsh had on a guest who was talking about small moments. That was wonderful and good, but I loved one thing that Tsh herself brought up. She started talking about the concept of zero based time budgeting.
It’s the idea that there are 24 hours in each day, and we choose how to fill them. And yeah, that’s kind of B.S. especially for parents of young children who can’t dictate what is going to be happening with their children throughout the day.
The suggestion was to journal ho you spend your time…and make changes from there. i.e. Revise the time budget.
Yeah, I’m not gonna do that.
I’m taking a different approach altogether. I’ve been saying since summer that I wanted to write in the morning, but the combination of not being a morning person, and trying to keep the tots asleep when I sneak out of bed has not helped that work out. At all. This idea of the time budget has reaffirmed for me that morning writing would really help. It’s the time of day when I’m *most* rested. It’s also pretty quiet around here at 6 AM.
Morning may be the answer to my problem. If I wait to the end of day to do what I am supposedly prioritizing for myself then it is always in danger. That time that I have “set aside” will always be in danger of getting eaten by our hectic family life. And so I’m giving first thing in the morning a fresh look.
The whole sneaking out of bed with two toddlers asleep idea hasn’t worked. Instead I end up with two awake cranky boys or I try to nurse them back to sleep over and over and end up dozing off again myself.
So I’m tweaking that idea. I’m writing in the morning before I even get out of bed. If I have a baby nursing at that time writing might happen in my journal. Otherwise, I’m hoping to be able to type in bed. It worked yesterday. Today, well, let’s just say it didn’t go as smoothly. Both babies are now awake, and I’m doing the ever so comfortable baby in lap nursing while typing thing.
It’s not a perfect solution. And I still have to drag my tired body from dead sleep into consciousness an hour before I normally would…but at this moment in time, it’s the hour that I can make happen. Also, the time change sort of helped boost me into getting up an hour earlier. I guess the end of daylight savings is good for something.
Surely I’m not the only one who has this happen. There must be others whose lives are so completely hectic that you look up after months and realize how little time you have spent just for you.
Where do you get lost in your schedule? What’s missing from your time budget? Does anyone else need an accountability partner….I’m available.