You must have been warned against letting the golden hours slip by; but some of them are golden only because we let them slip by. ~James Matthew Barrie
The passing of time shocks me. Not the ACTUAL passing of time, just my perception of time. For me, depending on the kind of day I have had, it either goes insanely fast or just quickly. Lately, I have added a new speed: hyper-drive.
There just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day. I am not sure if that is the way it has always been or if this is a fairly new observation for me, but although I am exhausted at the end of the day, I still go to bed thinking of all the things that I still need to get done or that I didn’t have time to accomplish today. When did my life get to be so hectic? And why I am allowing it to continue?
It occurred to me that the things that I love to do, such as blogging, tweeting, face-booking, and pinning with Pinterest, take up a large amount of my “free time”. Home schooling my kids, earning a degree in business and taking freelance jobs are part of my work day. House work and being a mom—and trust me, that’s more work than almost everything else combined—takes up so much time.
Then there is the “to and from” aspects of daily life that never seem to be included in the actual time commitment of your day. You know what I mean: time to get to the doctor’s office and back; actually going to the store, driving back and unloading groceries; the time it takes to get to Te-Kwon-Do class and back. To make matters worse, on the way back from whatever you went out for, you end up stopping off to pick up something else that was on your list, making the actual time increase without even knowing it. It can be justified as multitasking and getting more stuff accomplished, but it is just another way that your time is sucked out of your allotted 24 hours-in-a-day.
It has gotten to the point where I get annoyed that I have to wait for the water to boil. “Really? 7 minutes before I can put in the pasta?” These are word I have actually uttered in my kitchen recently. My oldest looked at me and said, “Jeez Mom, relax a bit before you have a stroke. It is only water.”
I stopped and looked at her, a myriad of thoughts screaming through my head. “Only water? No, it is the beginning of a dinner that is going to take a total of 22 minutes to prepare, then we have to eat, clean the kitchen up, put away the food, take out the trash, make sure showers are taken, school work finished, blah, blah, blah!” Luckily, those thoughts stayed in my head. My daughter has no idea how much has to get done in order for my world to be a happy place.
Then it dawned on me. I have more control over my happiness than anyone else. Although it is important for my kids to understand the importance of time management and getting their huge list of stuff done, it is also equally important for me to prioritize my life so that I don’t have a stroke over something as simple as waiting for water to boil. Perhaps I need to change the way I look at the importance of what I am doing. You know: The Big Picture.
The problem is, in the world that they will be emerging into as adults, the concept of slowing down and smelling the flowers seems to be achieved by people who are: 1) not concerned with money as someone either gave it to them or they are old enough to have earned what they feel they need, 2) do not worry about materialistic concerns or 3) either have, or are recovering from, some kind of life altering situation such as a terminal disease, combat or the shock of what it means to be a New Parent. Yeah, I know a lot of new parents who stop caring about the laundry getting done or the kitchen floor being swept when they are in the haze of new parenthood. (And I don’t blame them one damn bit.)
But for the majority of people, having a hectic schedule is par for the course. And quite frankly, I like having nice stuff and keeping up with what is current. However, it does appear that we are always in search of more and more gadgets to make our life (supposedly) easier, and on the ultimate quest to discover a quicker, faster way to do what we do.
But what do we do with all that extra time we are (supposedly) saving ourselves? I know that I am not using it to relax and be calm. In fact, sometimes I actually feel guilty when I get “caught” sitting down working on the computer with the TV going in the background. My youngest asked, “Mom, why do you have the TV on when you are not watching it?” I told her I was listening to it while I was working so I could get caught up on the shows that I liked. She tilted her head at me and said, “But if you are not watching them, how can you understand what is going on?” In her 8 year old world, multitasking is not something she comprehends.
But it got me thinking that here I was, working on the computer, semi-listening to the TV show, and checking my various accounts while simultaneously waiting for the popcorn to finish in the microwave. I wasn’t really enjoying any of it and I was only really giving everything just a sliver of my attention.
So will I change? Well, maybe a little. I know I want to enjoy certain things better, such as spending time doing stuff with my kids, without all the distractions of the electronics. I told them I would set aside time when all the computer stuff would be Off and my attention to them would be On. They liked this concept a lot and let’s face it, they are only young once. All the money and materialistic stuff in the world cannot replace their youth and the memories I will have of us together.
For a small amount of time, I want to learn how to relax. It seems stupid that I would have to practice that, but I do. I have to learn how to prioritize my life to make time to actually de-stress. I know there are classes for this kind of thing and that does not shock me—making an appointment to learn how to relax—but I am going to try it the old fashioned way. Turn off everything, go out of the house and walk. Maybe to the beach, maybe around the block, but in either event I will be putting 100% of my energy into one thing at a time. If I do nothing else during this time, at least I will be putting my new sneakers to good use and get some exercise. Wait, is that considered multitasking?