I fall into bed at night somewhere in the neighborhood of 2 a.m. and by fall I mean close the book I’m stubbornly reading by flashlight for hours after I climb into the bed beside Jack. I could have been in here hours ago but I was really busy not working but thinking about work doesn’t that count?
I don’t know where the time goes, I really don’t. I just know what happens when they go to bed at night is that the clock goes on fast forward and the work that I thought I’d get done when they went to bed suddenly gets pushed behind just a few minutes checking a few things and then maybe it’s done or maybe it isn’t. And when finally it’s bedtime, I just want to read a motherfuckin few pages of a book or texts from last night for a minute! God!
That’s how the day is too, but less because he’s awake. You have to go straight from the bedroom right into the bathroom first thing. That’s my number one tip.
1) Bed. Bathroom. Brush teeth and wash face and if you’re doing makeup do it now because you will not have time later, I promise. You think you don’t have anything to do today? Think again. Put some mascara and lipstick on. Now. Then pee. And pick up the laundry on your way out. My kid is the biggest time suck, the most demanding high stress job I have ever had. And he’s just being a kid! It’s unbelievable how utterly and completely spent I am after just a regular day of simply meeting his needs. Do not discount how fucking hard this marathon of a job is. Prepare.
I don’t bother making beds, I just shut the door. We’re not going back there until 12 hours from now anyway. Here’s a really important thing I do on days when I don’t lose the entire day to the internet: Blinders when I pass the office. Walk straight to the kitchen/laundry. Which leads me to :
2) Screw laundry day. I’m a one loader. Laundry, then coffee, then feed children. In that order. He’ll be whining by now, and it’ll get ugly. I might have yelled a couple times between the bathroom and the kitchen depending on how late I slept. If it’s 8, maybe not. If it’s 10, and he’s really hungry, there will be yelling proportionate to his whining. He doesn’t think breakfast means food, so he’s screaming about snack and I’m saying “I’m making breakfast soon” and he’s screaming “I DON’T WANT BREAKFAST” and it goes downhill fast.
Now it’s playtime. There’s no such thing as time management here because why the hell would you need to manage this time. This post is about time management for not-busy people. We either play, or we don’t play. There are play days, and then there are TV and zombie facebook time suck crying jag days. Today was one of those and I’m sad to admit that my son has seen and will see lots of them. You get the parents you get. I’m working on it.
Somehow 3:00 comes around and what do you know, nothing has been cleaned or cooked and that laundry? Is still in the washer. I know, you were waiting for the rest of my tips, where I tell you when I put the laundry in the dryer while taking out the dinner stuff, yeah? I don’t do that stuff unless I remember to do so. But usually I’m either playing in the bean town or I’m on facebook or the treadmill, and managing the rest of the day is incredibly hard because it’s not scheduled. And when it is scheduled that’s incredibly hard because scheduling your day when there’s nothing you really have to do
is feels stupid. Which leads me to
3) Don’t schedule every minute of the day just so that you can make sure your oven gets cleaned regularly. That’s stupid. (wait. What I mean to say is, that doesn’t work for me…) My son is not yet 3. I am living the incredibly privileged, charmed life of a mother who plays with her son all day. There’s no place we have to be. Why is god’s name would we schedule our day? Especially around housework. Beyond we get up, we pee, we brush our teeth, we put in the laundry…we play it by ear. Some days the house gets cleaned. Some (fine, most) days it doesn’t. I used to be really, really freaky about this and there are times that I am really freaky about it still. I’m in a non freaky phase (year) and my husband can attest that he likes me better this way I think. God. It’s just housework, we’re not ending the cold war. I wrote a post about this a long time ago and I love to go back and read it. You should too.
I’m not a career housewife and I don’t want flylady telling me how to schedule every second of my day. You know what I do? Prioritize. Sometimes that works, and sometimes my house looks like shit and I’m embarrassed when people come around. So I don’t invite them. Priorities.
Some days I lose a whole day to the internet, like today. Sometimes it’s worth it, like yesterday, and other days it’s necessary, like today which was a really horrible awful day and the only way through it was to sit here and stare at the computer and the TV and watch Real Housewives of Orange County and cry. But what the hell, of course I did- when things are bad, I turn to the internet like we all do: it’s well documented that we’re getting lonelier and more isolated and I think stay at home mothers get the worst of it because we don’t even have jobs to go to- we have no one to interact with except children, all day long. In fact if you want to lose even more days on the internet you can use some of your free time to read Six tips on how to fight isolation as a stay at home mom but then you wouldn’t need my post because you’d be scheduled out the ass. Pass for me since I don’t leave the house. Here’s a good one pager on how to stop being depressed about being a stay at home mom. I wish I’d read that one six years ago. My work here is done!
Anyway. Since none of those links solved my time management problem or my isolation problems, I’ll move along.
A few more things that make a difference during my completely unscheduled days (which are all of them):
During the day I only answer phone calls if I can keep them short. I can’t have a meaningful phone conversation with someone when it’s peppered with “no! Jack get down. Jack! The cat is not for lick-JACK! .do not put the cat in the dryer. Sorry, what were you saying about Sarah Palin?”
Chores like bills, banking and paying clients are for after kids go to bed, no matter how tempted. I’m already on the computer, why? Because all of those things are depressing and make me yell at Jack, and he hears “IN A MINUTE!” a lot already.
COFFEE FIRST. Then breakfast. Oxygen mask goes on the grownup FIRST. THEN the child. I cannot stress this enough. If the morning starts out right, you’ve got a fighting chance.
I’ve been working hard lately to figure out where I fit into Jack’s new life. He’s a little more independent but he still needs me so much that I can’t start a project of my own, or sit down to do any actual work. I can be in the room, and half present, but I still have to BE there. It’s that In Between thing again, which I’ll write about tomorrow. I hate being in between.