The silence shattering sound of the beeping alarm awakens me to a new day. I put my feet on the cold tile floor and head to the kitchen. I have an hour to get three kids to school. Sounds easy enough, right? I tell myself the same thing every morning until one kid forgets to do their math homework and another kid doesn't like the lunch I've made and the third kid wants me to read them every Pinkalicious book ever written while she eats breakfast at a painfully slow pace.
When the kids are finally dropped off at school, I can begin the job of tidying and editing my drafts. Let me start by saying that I have two full-time jobs; I'm a mother and a writer. I'm paid for neither. In fact, both jobs are quite expensive to maintain. But I love them and find ways to afford them and have no plans on giving either of them up, yet. (husband cringes here)
My morning is spent alternating between these two careers, depending on what is more pressing at the time. Then when my kids come home I become a fulltime mother, and when my kids go to bed I become a writer. I switch back and forth, sometimes by the hour.
I have days where my drafts are delayed because a child is at home feeling sick. There are times when edits must be made and the children are told to play quietly by themselves. Parents feel free to laugh here, you know why.
There are twenty-four hours in a day. That should be plenty of time to get everything done, right? Let's break it down and see:
- Seven of those hours are spent sleeping, hopefully.
- Ten of those hours are spent working, also hopefully.
- Two hours are spent commuting to work or taxiing your children to activities, no hope here.
- Two hours cleaning and cooking, unfortunately.
- One to three hours for homework, if we are lucky, lately not so.
- An hour and a half for exercise (I'm including, changing and showering in that time period)
- One hour dealing with fights and tantrums (add more if your child is below the age of five or over five)
- Fifty minutes of petting a needy cat, letting him in and out of the house and other pet-related activities.
Here is a pie chart to illustrate.
Mornings: Tell children to fight or have a tantrum while on the way to school. They mostly forget about the issues by the time you pick them up. Binge watch while commuting if you go by train. Comment on Facebook while you wait in line at the grocery store. Clean while cooking, but not in a counterproductive way. Set a timer and go tackle cleaning a bedroom while those dishes are simmering, but don't let them burn. Can't help you with exercise. I've tried to crunch the time as much as possible. But unless you take out changing or showering, it's going to more or less always be the same. Pets, you have to walk the dog and the cat has to be petted; no time-saving ideas there. Work is a great time for sleeping (depending on the job); approach with caution. And sleep. Well, if you're anything like me the ability to keep calm and have patience is in direct correlation to how much sleep I get. The less sleep, the more yelling. Deep breathing helps too, which is why exercise shouldn't escape your list, although it is usually the first to go in the time crunch.
These are the ways I manage my time. But nobody is perfect. Some things don't get done and that's okay, my family really doesn't need a new fancy meal every day of the week. Yay for leftovers! I'd love to hear about how you manage your time. Feel free to comment below.