What’s a typical day look like? I was recently asked on Facebook and, let me tell you, no day is typical. But I LOVED the idea of doing this post because it would make me pay attention to how I use my time so I wanted to go for it. So, first a run down of a few different days:
Monday, June 11, 2012
6 am Wake up. Clean out email. Get ready for run.
6:45 am Run
7:25 am Shower, get ready
7:30 am Happy’s up and at ‘em. BF is home until 8 am this morning so he helps to get Happy ready for preschool camp (it’s a morning camp with lots of outdoor play and swimming) while I get ready. On average, Happy will go to camp 3 days a week in the summer with the exception of a couple weeks where I am doing Girl Power camps or have other work commitments. Then he’ll go five mornings.
8:00 am Sit down for breakfast. Happy’s camp room is different this week and, mostly, our conversation centers on that change and whether or not he can have fun in the Dog Room. What’s for breakfast? Yogurt, wheat toast, and an apple for Happy. Puffins cereal and an apple for me.
8:15 Final preparations (read: doing Happy’s hair and sunscreen spraying) before I take Happy to camp.
8:30 am Head out to the Sugar Shack. Today, I get to work there until 10:50 am when I then have to leave for a Circle de Luz-related meeting.
8:30-10:45 Write remarks for Wednesday’s Charlotte Today television appearance on moving past a body image obsession. Clean out email. Visit with father-in-law who drops by with food. Start this blog post. Write Tuesday’s blog post.
10:45 Pack up the Sugar Shack for the day, head out to lunch meeting.
11- 12:25 pm Circle de Luz-related lunch meeting
12:30 pm Happy comes home from preschool camp. We talk about our days, use the potty, look at our reading list, shake some snow globes.
1:15 pm Quiet Time. If Happy was good at camp and has been good at home so far, he can watch an hour episode of Frozen Planet. While he does this, I try to check off a few more to do items. Today, it is finishing tomorrow’s blog post, answering email, doing some Circle de Luz work (planning the next board meeting, researching resources, and writing the annual report), and doing edits of my current book proposal and sample pages per my agent’s advice.
2:30 – 5:15 pm Mommy and Happy time. On Mondays, we typically split this time between playing in the driveway and going to the library (they have a therapy dog that comes and listens to her friends- or her friends’ mommies- read). Today, it is raining so we just go to the library.
5:15 pm Meet BF at home for cooking dinner.
6 pm Family dinner where everyone shares 3 good things that happened today. Happy always makes me come up with 3 good things that happened to Lola, too (Lola chased a rabbit is a recurring theme).
6:30 pm Call both sets of grandparents to chat ‘em up for a few minutes.
6:50 pm Bathtime, get ready for bed, pick out books to read, etc.
7:20 pm Readings book, followed by bedtime.
7:30 pm Clean kitchen, straighten the house, sort laundry.
8 pm Usually, I don’t work after 5 pm but because tomorrow is not a camp day, I do a few low effort items on the to do list. I typically can’t write posts or articles at night after a hearty day of parenting, but I can do email and other basic to do list items. So, that’s what I do.
9 pm Ready for bed. Pinterest, channel surf, read.
10:30 pm Lights out
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
5:45 pm Wake Up, Clean out email, Write and upload this week’s Voxxi Post.
7:00 Get ready for run, realize it is raining, bag run.
7:15 pm Get ready for the day, then knock out a few tasks on the to do list while Happy is still asleep. Tasks include: write Wednesday’s blog post, write a section of the Circle de Luz annual report, post on Twitter and Facebook.
8:30 Wake Happy. No preschool camp today and though I had planned to take Happy to a minor league baseball game today, the weather has killed that plan so we get ready and then head to the indoor play place at the mall (this is especially fun because a friend and her son meet us there). We stay through lunchtime. At this point, the only work-related thing I have done is answer one time sensitive email that comes through while at the mall.
3:45 pm Quiet Time. During this time, I catch up on email and answer interview questions for an article over email.
4:45 pm Dinner Prep. Aprons donned, Happy and I start prepping dinner. Tonight, we are having cousins over for dinner.
5:30 pm Cousins arrive. Veggie burgers, roasted vegetables and zucchini fritters are enjoyed by all. We all say our three things. I come up with three things for Lola and the neighbor’s dog, Pudd’n.
7 pm Bath time then bedtime.
7:30 pm Kitchen cleaning followed by ironing my outfit for tv appearance on Wednesday and email clean out.
9 pm Bedtime ritual, channel surfing, Pinterest, and reading.
10:30 pm bedtime
Wednesday, June 30, 2012
6 am Wake up. Clean out email. Get ready for run. Because today is a tv appearance morning, BF will handle all morning duties with Happy and I get to concentrate on what I want to say and saying it well. This is important to me because when I have a big thing- like a tv appearance- I can’t really concentrate on anything else so I am always grateful to BF for taking on the parenting load on these particular mornings so that I can focus. We are both like this so I do the same thing when he’s got a big thing going on with this work. Usually, both of us divide and conquer the mornings until he departs at 8 am for work.
6:30 am Head out for run.
7:15 am Shower, get ready, iron a different outfit for television appearance, decide on first one, practice talking points, clean out email, practice talking points, etc.
9 am Depart for Charlotte– rest of the morning is spent on tv appearance. The show is Charlotte Today, the local NBC station’s companion show that follows the national Today Show broadcast and today’s topic is how to move past a particular body obsession. I do a segment with them about once a month and really enjoy doing it.
11:45 am Leave Charlotte and head home, stop at Subway en route and carry home a sandwich.
12:30 pm Happy comes home from preschool camp. We talk about his day, get a snack (today, this is an extended negotiation as the snacks available to him do not interest him), hang out a bit before quiet time.
1 pm Quiet time. I send and answer emails, write a section of the Circle de Luz annual report, work on this blog post. Today, I luck out and Happy falls asleep during quiet time so I get an extra 30 minutes to work.
2:30 am Happy up and at ‘em and we head out to a park.
4:45 pm Leave the park and head back home because I need to leave by 5:15 (when BF gets home) to go to a Circle de Luz meeting in Charlotte.
6 pm Circle de Luz meeting in Charlotte
9 pm Get ready for bed, channel surf, Pinterest, read.
10:30 pm Lights out
A caveat: This week was a little bit different than normal weeks. First of all, I spend 35 weeks of the year teaching and I don’t teach in the summer. So this week looks pretty different from the times when I am fitting lesson planning and grading into my days. Also, because I was traveling last week, I set up this week to be mild work-wise because I knew Happy only had 3 days of camp and because I knew that I would have so much to do around the house to get things going again. Typically, I am working on more writing projects but I did a fair amount of my writing before I left town so that I could ease back in when we returned. I also didn’t need to work on any workshop planning during these three days that are sampled but that’s a big part of my Friday work schedule this week. I’ll do this exercise again this fall when I am juggling teaching and possibly (fingers crossed!) a book project.
Some general rules I follow, thoughts that I have:
1. I break everything down. When I have a bigger project, I typically break it down into little parts and just handle one piece of it a day. This is especially helpful because I often don’t have big chunks of time. I can’t write all of Circle de Luz’s annual report in one day, for example, because I don’t ever have 5 or 6 hours at one time. But if I break it into pieces, I can get a 20-30 minute chunk done each day.
2. I plan ahead. Every Thursday, I look at my master to do list and assign tasks to each day the next week on my daily to do list. I always do this planning with an awareness of how much time I have. For example, if it’s a day that Happy is home all day, my tasks assigned to that day are not big, comprehensive ones that require critical thinking. There might be 10 things on my to do list that day, but they are easy to accomplish (send an email to so and so about X) and don’t require very deep thinking. There are a few to do items on every week day’s list: clean out email, Twitter/ Facebook, write the next day’s blog post, workout. Everything else is relative to the day and what’s due, what meetings I have, etc.
3. I plan with my energy in mind. I am now pretty aware of when I will have energetic highs and lows. I typically can’t do more than 2 meetings in a morning, I am usually too wiped to think deeply on a Friday so I do more business-keeping than deep writing then, and I don’t like to have meetings on Monday as I am easing back into a week. I keep all of that in mind as I place things on my daily to do list. A lot of Circle de Luz business happens at evening meetings and there are always workout classes that I want to go to at night but I don’t allow take more than one night away from home during the work week (unless it is impossible to avoid). I like our family rhythm at night and don’t want to miss it.
4. I pick my battles. I know I have a very finite amount of time. I know that there’s more that I want to shove into it then I can and so I have chosen my battles. I don’t have a personal Facebook account because I would disappear into it. I am not on Twitter much. I do very little social media or email over the weekends. I don’t surf the internet as much as I would like. I read less than I used to before becoming a parent. Heck, I work out less than I used to but still try to work moving my body into every day. I’ve tried to make everything as simple as I can.
5. I am not a perfectionist. I could probably make everything I do more bright and shiny and powerful, or I could stop at good enough and keep going. I stop at good enough. I don’t have the breathing room to be perfect in my life. So my blog posts aren’t perfectly formatted. I don’t sit on posts for days to make sure that a better way of expressing things doesn’t come to me (this is especially necessary since I post Monday through Friday). I just go with what I got in what I do. That said, I do always evaluate the work that I do and consider how I can improve and work those strategies into my life. I just don’t paralyze myself trying to be perfect. I don’t have perfect in me, and I know it so I save a lot of time right there by not worrying about it.
6. I don’t wait until I feel like it. It used to be that I had the luxury of waiting until I felt like doing something. But I don’t anymore. Every morning that I get to work, I look at that day’s to do list and prioritize what has to be done by the time Happy is home from preschool. And then I do those things; even if I don’t feel like it (and a lot of times, I don’t feel like it, I want to do something more creative or cool than, I dunno, type up annual report addresses but, whatever, it needs to get done and it’s only going to happen if I do it. So I do it). So, everyday, I do the most time sensitive things on my to do list even if I don’t feel like it.
7. I’ve accepted that I am constantly trying to catch up. Yes, there is so much more I want to do, but here’s the thing: I have about 10 prescheduled (preschool hours) hours a week to work. It’s not enough for what I have going on so I am always going to be behind. I am always going to have things on the dream list. But the exchange is this- I love the time I have with Happy in the afternoon, and Happy has some needs that make it better for him to be with me or a loved one in the afternoon as opposed to in a full-time day care setting. I do sometimes wish my parents lived next door so I could call at a minute’s notice and say, “Hey, can you give me an hour coverage this afternoon to vacuum or read papers or whatever?” and I sometimes use our sitter who just finished high school to do an hour or hour and a half of sitting in the afternoon when I am at a critical time. Mostly, I just recognize that it is what it is.
8. I fess up. Because I am not a perfectionist and because I know that I am always behind, I try to fess up about my goof-ups and communicate what my challenges are (when appropriate). If someone needs something from me, I communicate my limits. When I goof up, I say, “My bad” and “I’m sorry.” I just try to be as real as possible that I am not a superstar and find that plenty of grace comes with that.
9. I realize that I am not alone. When I was young, I thought life got easier when you became a grown-up. But the truth is we would all like to be doing more than we are able to do and so all we can do is give life the best that we got and accept the rest of our reality. It’s easier to do this when you realize that you aren’t the only one struggling to find the right balance. So talk about it with others and keep it in mind as you try to evaluate things for yourself.