Where does the time go? Seriously. That’s a real question.

I’m writing this at 35,000 feet and more than 2,000 miles from home. It seems like this is the only way I have time to write any more. Which, of course, is a notion that most sensible people reject pretty quickly. I’m first in line for the idea that people find time for the things most important to them.

Nothing is more boring than reading about (or writing about) not writing. I just say all of that as a way to set up the thoughts I’m trying to work out, which is to figure what I’m doing so differently in the past year that my “discretionary” time totally vanished.

Every work day looks more or less the same. I get up pretty early, get ready for work, and take the boys to school. I come home shortly before dinnertime. I play with the guys. We eat dinner. Then we realize we’re already behind on the bedtime routines. The boys go to bed too late too often, and it’s because I’m trying to cram in too many things with them in those precious evening hours. When they go down, I go down. I know I could make myself get up. But right now I’m getting enough sleep and I desperately want to protect that. I can’t go to work groggy and off my game. Which is why Damon always takes the lead when Elliot wakes up at night. I wish it was me, though. Sometimes I hear him wailing, “Mommy!” in the middle of the night and I go up, because who woulnd’t? But that’s not how it usually goes.

Cutting back on time with Alden and Elliot can’t be the answer. I already don’t get enough time with them. And who could deny these faces?!

classmates

But really, imaginary working-outside-the-home moms of the world who are reading this, what sweet ninja time management moves am I missing? I used to write. I used to read books. I used to see TV shows. I swear I can’t put my finger on what has changed so much. Something clearly has, though. Sheryl Sandberg? Anne Marie Slaughter? Anyone?

I definitely dither around on my phone, but that’s always filling in minutes here and there. It’s not like I’m spending whole free hours checking Facebook. The phone may be part of it, but probably not enough to make a big difference even if I went cold turkey.

Weekends are better. I could obviously make gains there. We spend a lot of time outside, swinging in the hammock, going out for pizza, walking. Even with all that, though, I could probably still carve more out for myself if I got a little more structured and a little more willing to say ‘no’ to some things I really don’t want to do. I’m actually pretty good at saying ‘no.’ I just need to remind myself to do that. Is finding a few hours two days of the week really the best I can hope for, though?

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9 responses to this post.

  1. “Is finding a few hours two days of the week really the best I can hope for, though?”

    Yes. Yes, I think it is.

    When they are teenagers, though… you’ll have all the time in the world. I think.

    Unless they play baseball. Or so I hear.

    Reply

    • That gives me a sad for several reasons, but I appreciate the honest appraisal.

      Reply

      • You know, though, at ages 10 and 6, with no more getting up in the middle of the night, I can manage to stay up after bedtime and do some stuff. And on the weekends, Rocketboy will just head out the door and wave goodbye, and we see him again a few hours later. So, free time has started to leak back in again gradually.

        Also, you could get them addicted to minecraft, and then you have all the free time you could want.

  2. Posted by Jeannie on May 2, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    My reading is done almost exclusively on the subway, which is obviously no longer an option for you. The little time I get for myself otherwise is pretty much seized by going to bed too late, which considering the baby still gets up multiple times a night is a boneheaded move. How old is Elliot now? I found I suddenly had way more time for myself when R was 4 or 5, so I assume that when the baby reaches that age I’ll get there again.

    Reply

  3. I really miss subway reading.

    Elli is 3.5, so I’m hoping I have your experience. In thinking about it more, part of it is that Alden really has never been particularly demanding. So even though I think Elliot is just normal, he took me by surprise. Alden’s idea of togetherness is that we sit mushed together on the couch while doing whatever. Elliot wants me to whip stuffed Angry Birds around the house and build pillow forts.

    Reply

  4. Posted by Lisa on May 3, 2013 at 2:26 am

    I’m right there with you! I have a pile of fabric, a stack of books and one hour to myself after bedtime to split between reading, quilting, watching tv, talking to G, grading papers, etc. If I can stay away from the computer and tv (and have enough energy to do so). Wish I had some suggestions. Instead I offer empathy.

    Reply

  5. Posted by Sarah on May 6, 2013 at 10:31 am

    “In thinking about it more, part of it is that Alden really has never been particularly demanding. So even though I think Elliot is just normal, he took me by surprise.”

    I think this point is key.

    Even for we P/T SAHM-WAHMs (or F/T SAHMs I know), personality/demand is the biggest factor in our available time. I have three friends with toddlers who happily self-entertain/parallel play (toddler playing with toy; Mom cooking dinner, typing blog post, etc) for upwards of an hour at a time which is, ya know, a ton of time for toddlers to self-entertain. [Sidenote: One of them actually displays some early signs of autism, in terms of social disengagement, so I wouldn’t necessarily wish for his levels of self-sufficiency.]

    O, on the other hand, will pinch my calves if I so much as wash dishes while she’s up and about. Literally, pinch my calves. Except when she’s biting my knees. Charming. She doesn’t need direct engagement, she just wants to be watched while doing her thing. She is a super social creature and it is about to kill me.

    Which is actually a lesson in self-reflection, I am aware 🙂

    Reply

  6. Posted by Sarah on May 6, 2013 at 10:36 am

    PS: This comment brought to you by my paid babysitting hours AKA my dissertation writing hours. Zero-sum, man, zero-sum.

    Reply

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