Way back in the good ol’ days prior to having kids, didn’t it seem like time was all we had? There was plenty of time to shower, eat, get to work, go out for dinner or drinks, go on vacation, and you would still have plenty of time left over.
I don’t recall ever having to implement my mad skills of time management. That could also be because my children have not only sucked my time up, but also have sucked my memory up.
Anyway, as parents our plates can get a bit overloaded very quickly. Not only are we planning for our own days, but our kids’ as well.
Being a stay-at-home parent I thought would allow me all this time to go on play dates, join the PTA, be the “soccer mom,” the den mother, the Tupperware hostess with the mostess, and, of course, the all-out-fabulous wife.
Well, then one day I had both of my kids in school for the first time and had a morning all to myself. Oh, how I enjoyed that, sitting at , drinking a big, fat iced latte outside in the sun with a friend. I think that is when I started loading my plate with all the things I was interested in.
Running, yoga, belly dancing, tennis, house hunting, shopping, a couple of side jobs to fund my hobbies, team captain of the Relay for Life team, and of course I still had my household chores to handle. So very quickly my life became all about me and my commitments outside the house.
Plate filling can also go the other way. It can be very easy to overload your kid’s plate as well. I’ve been down that path also. Thankfully, my plate was still a Weight Watchers-approved portion control.
Baseball alone can take up four nights a week. Sure, it might be just an hour practice, but add the travel time, the prep time and whatever activity it cuts into, and you have one big, fat time-sucker. That is just one sport.
I don’t know about your house, but homework alone seems to take up crazy time here. Not necessarily because it’s too much (I was against homework when I was a kid, and I still don’t like it), but it’s the time it takes to get my son drained of excess energy and then to focus back on schoolwork without being distracted by his brother.
As parents, we do want to give our kids everything. There are so many choices and things for them to try. How will they know what they like, what their passion is, what they are good at and what they don’t like if they don’t try everything, right?
But of course on top of the schoolwork, the sports or classes that they want to take, eating, bathing and sleeping, they just want to play. They want and need their time alone, their “moment at Starbucks” as well. Talk about a balancing act.
And that’s just one kid. What if you have multiple kids? I have two boys, and I’m so thrilled that my younger isn’t old enough to join a team yet and that my older isn’t interested in anything this year. I’m taking full advantage of that because I know next year is going to land me a pop fly into having to multitask and drink my coffee at some ball field in East Cobb.
For those of you who are working parents, my hat is off to you. Your time management skills have to be off the charts as well as your multitasking. Some of my best friends work full time and maintain such schedules that make my head spin. What amazes me most is that they don’t seem to ever overcommit themselves. They have mastered the balancing act so that everyone in the house has something for themselves and can maintain great family time as well.
Life is just full of so many fun and exciting things to try to be a part of, and when you see how short life can be, you want to cram it all into the present instead of waiting for tomorrow. I have no advice on how to create some balancing act or maintain portion control on your life plate.
I do think it’s important to celebrate and take mental health moments when you clear portions off your plate. Reward yourself when you have the courage to just say NO and to know when you just can’t handle one more thing. In the meantime, if you’re overcommitted, push through one event at a time, and if you’re not enjoying yourself, try to remember you don’t have to do everything all the time. There are still some parents sitting outside Starbucks, trying to figure out what to do with their time.