I know you’ve been on the edge of your seats

November 14, 2009 at 2:35 pm (Family, Parenthood) (, , )

average hours per day

I was glad I posted that I was going to keep track of my time for a week.  Otherwise I might have been tempted to be less than deligent about it. And I think it’s pretty fun data to look at.  But I’m a geek.  If you don’t like data, just skip this one.  Did I tell you I rocked all my lab reports in high school and college?

Take a look. One thing is pretty obvious, and I knew it before I started. If I want to free up more time each day, I need to get off the computer (I say, as I sit here with my laptop).

Here’s the nitty gritty of how I took the data and categorized:

I looked at a semi-normal “work week”, Monday through Friday, 10/26-10/30. Semi-normal because 2/3 of my kids stayed home sick at least one day from school.
A good portion of the time I’m doing twenty bazillion things at once. I counted the activity that was the more “productive”, somewhat arbitrarily. For instance, if I was folding laundry and watching TV, I called it laundry.  In the kitchen category, there’s plently of time that was spent putting on somebody’s shoes, mediating a squabble, or answering a phone call. I wasn’t that exact. But if I left the kitchen more than 5 min, I tried to count it.
I didn’t put sleep in the graph to leave room for the other categories, but it averaged 6.5 hours a night.

Here’s what some of the categories mean:

  • Kids (3.63 hours)- I was actually surprised at how high this number is. The time I was with the kids, but doing something else, like laundry or the computer, isn’t included. This is straight kid-mama time- talking to them, bathing, crafting, reading, playing LEGOs, puzzling, bedtiming, cuddling, and taking them to swimming lessons (the one regularly scheduled non-school activity every week).
  • Computer (2.93 hours)- I wasn’t so surprised at how high this number was. Mainly because every time I’m on the computer, I’m thinking how I’m wasting my time. Because there’s always a million other things. And work on the computer isn’t concrete.  How do I manage to spend 3 hours a DAY on it?  I’m not really sure, exactly.  I read email, send email, look up directions, recipes, read blogs, comment on blogs, put a few minutes into the Facebook timesink, pay bills, track if next month I’ll be able to pay the bills, and figure out why that guy in the movie we’re watching looks familiar.
  • Kitchen (2.77 hours)- This includes prepping 3 meals and multiple snacks, serving said meals, and cleaning them up. I separated out actual sitting down to eat.  I feel good about this number [Sounds like what they say on The Biggest Loser, right?  Hey, it’s a show about food.]
  • Preschool (1.23 hours)- We belong to a cooperative preschool, so this included time actually with the kids, to-and-from school driving time, a parent meeting, and some fundraising.  Most weeks I don’t spend quite this much time, but it does put things in perspective for me.
  • Eating (0.76 hours)- Meaning I sit for an average of 15 minutes each meal.  Not bad for a mama of 3, really.  Some days I loooong for the days when Mark and I lingered at the table, talking.
  • Mark (0.52 hours)- As with kidtime, this is straight Mark-only time. ‘Nuff said.
  • TV (0.52 hours)- I’m not sure what it says that this is the exact amount of time I spent with Mark, also.
  • Friends (0.45 hours)- Face-to-face, not on-line or phone.  I’d like to have more adult interaction, laughing, and support, but I recognize it’s hard to do right now.  Also, it can be built into preschool, park, kitchen, and eating, if I could just find time to arrange it…
  • Bus stop (0.43 hours)- I’m not much of a waiter.  Not the food service kind, the can-handle-waiting-on-other-people kind.  I keep telling myself it would be one thing if our bus stop was on a quieter street, so I could enjoy nature and my daughter while we wait.  Instead, it’s along a 5 lane highway, where I’m always afraid my daughter going to get run over, and where I can’t answer my cell phone because the cars rushing by are so loud.  It is a break in the day of housework, though, and a short walk.
  • Insomnia (0.40 hours)- Middle of the night, wideawakeness.  This was 2 hours all on one night.  It makes the next day a bear.  Once a week is about the yoush.
  • Grooming (0.30 hours)- Mark thought this choice of category name was hilarious. “Are you a pet?”  I just meant, showering, washing my face on the days I didn’t shower, putting on the rare application of mascara, plucking eyebrows.  Isn’t that grooming?
  • Cleaning (0.24 hours)- See, I told you this is my corner.
  • Other (1.55 hours)- Included resting, phone calls, organizing, packing/unpacking for daily outings, pet care, planning our lives out on the calendar, etc.

I plan to post on my plans to modify some of my days based upon what I found.  But right now, a 2 year old has woken up and brought me 23 books and counting.  I’m not joking.  So that will wait.  ***By the time I spellchecked, it was 31.  I counted.  See, all about the data.

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more about time

October 29, 2009 at 1:44 pm (Family, Parenthood) ()

Last week I shared what I don’t do with my time.

What’s more important is how I do spend it.

A key to leading a purposeful life is to choose where the time goes, rather than let it slip through your fingers.  Easier said than done.

Back in my corporate days, in order to increase efficiency, our director ordered a time audit of the operators on the manufacturing floor.  They were observed for a week or so, and every single movement they did was recorded.  As you might guess, they found it just a wee bit insulting that management thought a group of strangers could tell them how to do their job faster.  I cringe at the thought of any time audit results on my Mama Days.  Just how much time did I waste this morning, running back to the house for an extra coat, then my coffee cup, and finally my wedding ring I took off while cutting out biscuits?  My aunt thinks pretty much everybody in our family has undiagnosed ADD.  Some days I agree, others not.  How could I not be frazzled taking care of three kids, two of which are twins that still need constant fighting break-ups, and one of which is two years old and often doesn’t sleep through the night?

But, doesn’t it sound interesting to know?- where does the time go?  Many nights I wonder what I did all day. 

So, I’m going to find out.  In a slightly less detailed scale than the corporate time audit.  I’ve been recording every time I switch activities this week.  It seems a little obsessive, maybe.  I’ll admit a propensity to do more record keeping than most would care to.  But I think it’s fun.  And all those money management people are always advocating that one starts by figuring out where every dollar goes.  This is the same concept, with time.  The end goal is to ensure that I’m spending time on the activities that are important to me and my family.

I don’t mean to suggest that every minute of the day needs to be productive.  This little activity is meant to make sure I have enough time to relax, to play.  Knowing that when I do, it’s right where I’m supposed to be.

I’ll post the results this weekend.  I haven’t done any tallying yet, but I can already tell you- I need to do some rearranging.  To fit with what actually matters.

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24 Hours- I’m OK and you’re OK

October 10, 2009 at 2:38 pm (Running) (, , )

I will admit it. When I left work to stay home with the kids, I thought I could do it better. Better than my husband did, better than my mother, better than quite a few mamas I know (although I know a lot of great mamas- at least as good as them).  I had high aspirations.  My kids would be happier, because I’d consistently help them work through their difficulties, and they would in turn be so emotionally fulfilled by this guidance and my attention that all fighting would cease.  Our bottom line would improve, even though I wasn’t working, because I’d frugally shop for healthy foods and make meals from scratch.  And save even more by making other items to our exact style and size specifications- clothing, curtains, laundry soap.  Our home would be clean, organized, and inviting.  Hahahaha.

Here’s what I’ve realized.  And it’s not earth-shattering.  Everybody has the same amount of time each day.  Nobody has enough.  And no one can do it all.  Not that lady with the perfect smart well-adjusted kids and perfect style that suits just them.  Not the woman that is well-spoken and up on current events, so much so I don’t dare try to talk to her, as my world has recently gotten smaller, not bigger.

But everybody’s cutting corners somewhere.

Some people are better at hiding where than others.

I know a woman who cuts a giant corner off her own sleep.  Women who all but cut out cooking.  Others cut a social life, spending time with their kids, or having any kids at all.  *Some people don’t spend any time on the internet.*  Shock.

I’ve been taking joy in finding people’s corners.  I know, I know, it’s not healthy.  But some people just seem so perfect.  It’s those people I quietly jealousize, and then they say, “I haven’t taken any pictures of Susan since last Christmas.”  Or, “We never really go to the park.”  And I think, “Oh, she isn’t perfect.”  EVERYBODY has a corner.  They have to.

What any person spends their time on demonstrates their value system.  Whether they are intentional about it or not.  It’s easy to let time go to waste, watching tv.  Or my time waster- googling random inconsequential things.

I, it’s become obvious, take corners with the care of my house.  I really do want a house where a friend can stop by, and not have to trip over toys to come into the kitchen for a cup of coffee.  And I wouldn’t have to cringe if the friend heads to the bathroom, because she may step on cat litter and find mildew in the bowl.  But this house I do not have.

Right now it’s the corner I’m taking.  A giant big dirty disgusting corner.  That and plently other little ones.  It’s less important to me than my kids, or my sleep, or my food.  To me.  And that’s ok.  Your own corner, whatever it is, is ok too.

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