Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Tuesday Ten: Not Enough Time

Ten Things....I wish, I wish, I wish the days were just a little longer

But first, a little rant. Because I know what the self-help, get-your-life-together, we've-got-all-the-answers, motivational folk say: You just have to make time.


I understand that in some respects it's true. We have to prioritize our time. We have to ask ourselves: Am I making the best use of my time? But no matter who we are, no matter what we do, no matter how efficient we may be, we cannot do it all. I remember how liberated I felt when I finally realized that I am never going to get it all done. Until I realized that, if I spent time in the garden I felt guilty because I wasn't playing baseball with the kids. If I played baseball with the kids, loving husband had to do the dishes by himself, if I helped loving husband with the dishes, the front yard was neglected, and the basement was still a mess, and kindergarten gent still needed someone to teach him to ride his bike and tie his shoes and I wasn't reading something that will stimulate my brain. And forget about downtime for myself...there are just a whole lot of things I should be doing instead.

Time doesn't grow on trees either. I can't just go out in the back yard and pluck an extra fifteen minutes when I think, "Gee, I really need to paint my toes." Nor can I run into the sewing room and whip out an hour or two so that I can clean the basement. It's not about making time, it's about making choices. All I can do is ask myself: Is this the best way to use my time? Sometimes the answer is yes. Sometimes it's no, and I make a different choice, however reluctantly. And sometimes the answer is not really but I'm enjoying what I'm doing so I'll make a different choice in fifteen minutes, or when I'm finished, or tomorrow.

So take this, all of you "You've just got to make time" folks: Thbbpptt!


Now that I've got that off my chest:
Ten Things For Which I Wish I Had More Time

1. My feet. And my hands, and my skin. I wish I had time to buff and polish and exfoliate and moisturize. My nails and my heels and such are usually in a dreadful state.

2. Spur-of-the moment outings. I love taking the kids out and about. Juggling their regular activities with lessons and dentist appointments and library trips and play time in the back yard means that spontaneity is limited. It's a conscious choice. We choose to make math and sports and library and music priorities. And the trade-off is that we lose some of our freedom to pick up and go.

3. Hiking. I love hiking. I take the kids for nature walks, but I don't mean the kind of hiking in which I'm limited to the four-year-old's pace and places where we can take the stroller. This wasn't my idea, by the way. I cheated and looked at Cristy's list. I didn't read the whole list. I was just looking because I was considering slacking off and saying "I wish I had time to write my Tuesday Ten but I don't," and I was checking to see if I was the only slacker. "Hiking" caught my eye. "Oooooh, hiking. I miss hiking. I wish I could go for a hike right now," I thought wistfully. So here it is on my list. (Any other duplications are purely coincidental. Really.)

4. Classes for me. I wish I had time to take a class for myself: yoga or quilting or drawing or belly dancing or woodworking or gardening. I know that time for this will come as my little ones get older.

5. Cleaning the basement. And the sewing room. Today instead of cleaning the sewing room, I took the boys to the garden store to buy strawberries and a birthday gift for their grandma. Then we put on raincoats and rubber boots and puddle-stomped our way around the neighborhood. Then home for warm tea (well, I use the word "tea" loosely, it's more like cream and honey with a little tea in it) and crackers. Now I'm writing in my blog. It's about making choices. The mess in the sewing room will wait, but the rain will stop and the kids will grow up. I'd rather write my list than clean the sewing room, so I'll clean when I'm done. And I know I'm making the right choices for me right now.

6. Sleep. This is where I cheat myself. At the end of a long and lovely day with the kids swirling and shouting and learning and bouncing all around me, I revel in the peace and quiet. I love the chaos and noise and activity of the day. I thrive on it. And I enjoy spending my evening sewing or reading or watching television instead of sleeping. I pay for it the next day because I'm tired. I need to make a different choice, and go to bed earlier, however reluctant I am to give up some of my quiet time.

7. Time for each child. We homeschool because we enjoy spending time with our children. They're remarkable young people. And I do make time for each child, that's a clear family priority. But sometimes I feel a little nostalgic for the kind of time I had with my lovely lady when she was little, or the time the oldest gent and I had together when his sisters were at the school down the road and it was just the two of us at home. Then I remember that sometimes I was bored stiff. I am conscious of the fact that this too is a trade-off. We love having lots of people to love. It's not as though each child is floating in an attention-vacuum if he or she does not have my full attention every waking moment. They've got one another and they get time to learn to pay attention to and entertain themselves. I truly believe that I'd be doing them a disservice were I to devote all of my time and attention to them. But some days I wish I had just a little more time to spend with each of them individually and with all of them together.

8. Absolutely nothing. One of my favorite activities as a kid was thinking. I'd sit and think. On the couch looking out at a rainy day, or laying out in the sunshine in the field, or sitting in a tree. Or get to the state where I wasn't even thinking any more. I'd just sit there and be, and the sunshine or the rain and the sounds and smells were just a part of that being. I miss that. I'm not even sure I can just sit any more. After a minute or two I start to get restless. I start thinking of all of the things I should be doing, like the laundry or cleaning the sewing room or pulling weeds. It takes time and effort to still my restlessness and just think, or just be without thinking.

9. Reading. I still read, but it's sandwiched in between the rest of life: A half an hour while a gent is at gymnastics class, fifteen minutes while I eat my lunch, twenty minutes in the evening, ten minutes before I fall asleep. I can't remember the last time I just read until my head was full of words, or when I spent an entire day curled up in the recliner or in bed with a book.

10. Time to finish this list. Is that cheating? The gents are asking me to play and I can't think of one more thing. Or rather, I can't choose between the many things swimming around my head clamoring to go on the list. So I'll just save them. I've probably got enough to make another "Things I Wish I Had Time For" list in the future.

Of course, maybe I'd have more time for these things if I wasn't wasting so much time-- ten ways I waste my time.

Cristy wishes she had more time.

Ten things for which Laura wishes she had more time.

If Dawn had more time, here's how she'd spend it.

Yay! Ilka decided to play this week. Here's how she'd spend her free time if she had any.


my5wolfcubs said...

Hmmm, as I read through your list I thought "Me, too!" for each one! Except I'd probably replace hiking with drawing...although I do want to take nature walks! I enjoyed your "joy in acomplishment & the little things" post on the WTM board!

Cathy said...

Thank you so much! :-)

Funny how similar our "If I had time" lists can be!I noticed that when reading my friends' lists too. So much to do and so little time.

Mom2Morgan.Dylan said...

I think the answer is to hire people to do the "fun" stuff like laundry, cleaning, and straightening up the basement. Then we'd have to think of 10 ways to make more money. LOL. ~Dawn

Maufi said...

Thanks for the idea Cat.


nina said...

I agree with everything. I wish I had more time to just think. I used to be a champion of doing nothing. I could float on thought and be perfectly content.

I think you answered my question about life (and homeschooling) with more than one child. I do believe siblings are one of the greatest gifts we can give our children. I just hope mine will play together nicely.

When I worked for the bookstore, I used to tell young people to enjoy all the time they have to read. I still remember the lazy afternoons of reading, of carrying a book to the dinner table. Now I don't seem to make enough time to read. But I would defend the time I use to blog. I really appreciate all the advice I find on blogs.

My dh tells me that he loves to see me without clothes but could I please wear socks. I am desperate for a pedicure.

Cathy said...

Nina, I think the comment I left about how nostalgic your Cit-Cat posts make me feel and your email in response brought that into the front of my mind. :-)

Tell your dh to send you to the spa to take care of those feet! A nice afternoon outing, for sure!