I’m writing this as I re-wash some laundry—a rogue red hand towel made it into a load of whites. I tried to convince my husband that he should adopt the motto of the cowboys at the Snake River Stampede, “Real men wear pink,” but he insists the slogan doesn’t apply to underwear. Okay, fine. So, here I sit, my socks and undies not the only things being agitated.
So far, it feels I’ve spent the school year hurried and harried. I realized today that I have horked down every meal since we started school, frantic to shovel fuel into my body so I can rush off to deal with whatever kid, crisis, or event is careening toward me. There is something seriously wrong with this system. Funny thing—at church in a couple of weeks, I’m supposed to teach a lesson on “avoiding crisis living.” Of course, the lesson plan focuses mainly on financial planning and staying out of debt. But I see parallels with time management. Wise use of time, like wise use of money, makes us better able to deal with unexpected events and issues. Supposedly….
I have a bunch of kids involved in a bunch of things, and I’ve discovered it’s impossible to expect to get them all out the door and be somewhere on time five minutes before we’re supposed to be there. (Cue flickering lightbulb in a thought bubble over my head.) So I’ve been experimenting with how much time is needed to get everyone ready for any given event, their bodies and supplies safely buckled and stowed in the car, and to arrive at wherever early enough to look like we have our act together, but late enough that I don’t have to resort to hog tying the little ones to keep them under control. I’ve found that with five kids, it takes me approximately 50 minutes to gear up to take them anywhere. If I were to divide that out, that would run around 10 minutes per kid—but they EACH take the entire 50 minutes. (What branch of math explains that equation?)
Then, it seems that any place we go requires a thirty minute minimum in driving time—and I can only stand about 10 minutes of Raffi songs in the CD player. Obviously, our car time would be better spent listening to an audio book, that is, if we could hear it over the bickering or robust renditions of “Jingle Bells/Batman smells.”
I am flying by the seat of my pants—which has always worked for me--I’m still able to get everything done and even have it turn out well (with the possible exception of my socks and undies tonight.) but I am not enjoying the rush, the adrenaline, the borderline panic that used to get me really jazzed. I am not finding my high in this lifestyle anymore.
I must be getting old and responsible, because I find myself wanting to fill out my calendar several months in advance. I want to do things like stock my pantry and my arts and crafts cupboard so I feel “prepared.” I am feeling a desperate need to have a structured schedule, and as little “stuff” as possible. (Craft stuff doesn’t count as “stuff” so please don’t quibble with me on it.) It is as frightening an experience as it is liberating.
My kids, who have been used to my “Jack Sparrow” approach to things--because it’s the only thing they have ever known--are struggling with my newfound desire to be organized in home and spirit. I won’t say they are resisting me—they just don’t know what to make of me when I tell them to get their karate uniforms on a good hour before we even have to leave for class. They are boggled by the fact that I’m now planning meals—and disheartened at the elimination of “half price Happy meal Tuesdays.” (Okay, kind of miss that one, too.)
I am trying to be patient with them as they learn to adapt to my attempts at avoiding crisis living. I am trying to be patient with myself when, despite my best planning, things still go awry and we STILL fly by the seat of our pants. Even on our best days, things are slightly insane around here, especially in the evenings after school. But, as long as I can laugh about it all, I think we’ll be okay. Even if I have to schedule the laughing in. Now, where’d I put the pencil?