Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Homemaking Part 4: Time Well Spent

Part of an ongoing series on Homemaking.

There is so much written about Time Management and most of it involves schedules and planning.  We tend not to do very well with schedules.  Our time is free and flowing.  But I do find that accounting for my time each day helps me to see why some of my priorities aren't being accomplished.

I was reading over some of my old posts when I found one where I listed how I spent my days.  In June, 2010 my days looked like this: 

3 hours reading to or otherwise fully engaged with the children
2 hours of housework or gardening or doing jobs like paying bills
2 hours directly supervising or observing the children, but not engaged in an activity with them
2 hours reading (for myself)
2 hours preparing and eating food
1 hour on the computer or on the phone
2 hours caring for the children such as bathing them, dressing them and putting them to bed
1 hour hanging out with Partner-Guy

Aaaah, those were the lazy days of pregnancy.  My how things change with a baby in the house!  These days look more like this:

3 hours directly engaged with Anna, Holly and Jasmine (together or individually)
3 hours directly caring for Julian
2 hours baking and preparing meals
1 hour taking care of myself (showering, getting dressed, eating, reading the daily newspaper)
3 hours housekeeping (cleaning, cleaning up and laundry)
2 hours reading or writing at the computer
1 hour with Partner-Guy

So what has changed?  Mostly it's the time I don't spend with Anna, Holly and Jasmine.  I miss reading to them for long periods everyday--I used to commit to a minimum of 60 minutes per day of reading aloud with them.  And I really miss observing their play--they are such interesting, creative people!  So whereas they used to get 7 hours of active and passive attention, they are now getting about 3 hours. 

I am doing more housework and food preparation these days, too.  In the winter there is always more cleaning and cleaning up to do because we are housebound most of the time.  I have also completely eliminated prepared foods from our grocery list, so I need to spend more time baking bread and muffins, as well as cutting up fruits and vegetables.  Some days I think I do as much food prep as a sous-chef.

Julian really does take up a lot of my time everyday, but as I explained to the girls, they got just as much attention as Julian when they were babies.  Julians' reflux continues to bother him, so he needs to be held a lot and he does not fall asleep easily.  I have learned to multi-task while holding him:  I stand near the counter and read parts of the newspaper that I would otherwise skip over or I stand near the computer to read an article online.  I've also discovered that I can do a lot of cooking with him in the sling.  It is, unfortunately, impossible to read to the girls while I'm holding him.  I've tried.  Many times.  Can't.  Do.  It.

So how do the girls spend their days?

2 hours eating, bathing, dressing, using the bathroom
2 hours watching DVDs
2 hours drawing, colouring, printing
5 hours playing together (Barbies, My Little Ponies, etc.)
1 hour individual play (Playmobil, Barbies, stickering, etc.)
2 hours playing with parents (UNO cards, hide-and-seek, Playmobil, helping in the kitchen)

I'm looking forward to spring when we will be outdoors more.  I have committed myself to taking all the kids to Taylor Creek Park (part of the Don Valley River system) for a nature walk, a picnic or an adventure at least twice per week as soon as the weather warms up and the ground is no longer muddy.  We can access the valley via a steep trail that is only 500m from our home, so hopefully I won't even need a stroller.   In the spring I'm also hoping to find time everyday to exercise.  If I figure that out I'll write about it!

The truth is that everyday is different.  And even though I can roughly account for how my day passes, there are many days when I go to bed thinking "I didn't get ANYTHING accomplished today!"  I try to set daily goals so that I can stay focused.  Today my goals are to bake oatmeal cookies, plant some seeds for indoor germination and vacuum upstairs and downstairs.  The vacuuming is left over from yesterday's goals, but it requires a general PICKING UP first, which can't be done while I'm holding a fussy baby.  So the vacuuming might have to wait another day.

So I set daily goals and also seasonal goals and I keep in mind that everything changes in its own time. The baby will grow, the girls will develop new interests, the weather will cycle.  And we'll keep filling our days with Freedom and Joy.