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Time Management

Posted Feb 25 2010 2:54am
This week, I'm teaching a student success workshop.  One of the first assignments is to fill out a time log of all activities completed the previous day.  Most of the logs consist of a high amount of TV watching, sleeping very late into the morning, afternoon naps, and fast food meals.  My first thought is almost always, "and you wonder why you aren't successful?"

Of course, I can't say anything like that.  It's my job to coach the students to develop more positive habits.  To discuss time management skills, ways to reduce stress, budgeting of both time and money, etc.

That said, this assignment never fails to make my blood boil.

I've reached the point where I am jealous of everyone.  Anyone who sleeps in more than small chunks of time.  Anyone who doesn't have twins and a toddler.  Anyone who doesn't work every time their children sleep.  Anyone with a "normal" family.  Anyone who breathes, pretty much.   I'm just so tired and so wrung out that I can see the negative attitude and mentality building by the day as I continue to work from sunup until sundown in some fashion in what I feel is an effort to do the best for my family.

A few weeks ago, I treated myself to a haircut.  It's been over 5 months, since before the girls were born, when I last had my haircut.  I couldn't even enjoy the experience as all I could think about was the amount of work I should have been doing during that time and all of the other "more important" things on my to-do list.  "Me time" -- whatever in the hell that is -- apparently showering and normal bodily maintance are considered "me time" once you're a mom -- is impossible.

But then I read through these student logs and I think to myself, "do they really wonder why they aren't successful?"  I feel like I am successful.  I've managed to achieve everything I've set out to do.  But it's because I work hard to achieve my goals. I've worked hard, every day, for as long as I can remember, striving for the next goal, trying my best to be my best and to raise my family in the best way possible.

I think this is where part of the jealousy comes in as well.  When I look at others lives as an outsider, it seems like their life must be so easy.  They get to sleep.  They have time to watch TV.  It probably wouldn't take most people the three weeks it's taken me to write this blog post (yes, I started writing this 3 weeks ago...).  I am sure that to some, my life appears to be easy.  If you aren't living it, you might feel that way.  Heck, I have a nanny, that is suppose to make everything peachy-keen, right? (I love Katie, and I am very grateful for her help -- but I'm really starting to hate the term nanny and what it seems to imply to some people.)

The fact is, even with a "nanny," my life isn't easy.  Every day is full to the brim.  Every moment is consumed by numerous activities and multi-tasking.  Katie works from 9-1 each day.  I take Bo out to lapsit and lunch one of those days, so I have 16 hours per week to do actual paid work.  Of those 16 hours, 6 of them I am teaching in the classroom.  Somehow, I teach 4 classes (and 2 workshops every third week) and currently an orientation, including grading and preparation, in those other 10 hours and at night.  You can see why I'm never caught up and why most nights, as soon as the kids are in bed, I start working,

When I am home, and my kids are awake, I devote every moment that I can to them.  Mike leaves early for the day and I have full responsibility for morning duty at home.  I do my best to have all of us ready for the day and fed before Katie is on duty.  I don't always succeed, but I do try my best.   I use Katie's work time as my work time.  MWF I have actual classes, so I go to the college and work for about an hour and a half before my classes.  On Tuesday, I have the whole time to work and I've been going to the library, but this week I retreated to the basement.  Tuesday is my only time without a child that I could potentially do something for myself, but usually my work load is so heavy that doing something else seems very counterproductive for my stress levels.

As soon as I get home, I jump right into child care and home care.  The babies need fed as soon as I walk in the door and then around 2ish I usually try to grab something to eat for lunch.  The girls go down for another nap around 2:45.  Bo gets up at 3.  If I have any time in there, I usually try to devote it to dinner prep, but sometimes I do manage to check my email.  Don't forget meal preparation, laundry, and other basic clean-up...

In my mind, I've been reviewing all of the different ways I could possibly change my life and manage my time better to make myself more sane.  My friend, Jenny, even sent me an Excel spreadsheet (similar to the one my students fill out for my workshop) to fill out to try to organize and plan my day better to squeeze the most from every available minute.

I'm slowly coming to the realization that I just can't continue to do all of these things.  There are not enough hours in the day for me to be a full-time mom, a full-time teacher, and try to do anything and everything else. And while I don't anticipate my life being a sleep late, TV fest, any time soon, I've got to find a way to balance and maintain my life better.  If only I could quit hitting road blocks every time I think I've figured out a way to do this... Unfortunately, the two obvious solutions (quit my job and stay home or work full-time outside the home) aren't realistic options.

How do you manage your time?  Where and how do you find time each day to relax and regroup? How did your time management skills change when you became a mom?  Do you feel like you devote enough time to all areas of your life?
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