Thursday, 14 April 2011

My Goldfish Theory of Time Management

We all have the same number of hours in a day. The same number of minutes, the same number of seconds. So why is it that some people manage to do so much with those hours and others very little?

"I don't have enough time." "I'm too busy." I have said these things so many times. As a stay a home mum I always feel that I never have enough time. I don't have a very tidy house (and if I'm honest, it's not very clean either), I don't iron anything yet somehow I always feel that I am rushed off my feet and never have enough time to do anything.

My dad once asked me "but what do you DO all day?" I was so affronted by this. I felt he was insinuating that I spent all day watching Jeremy Kyle, while feeding my kids turkey twizzlers in their pyjamas. As anyone who has stayed at home looking after kids for very long knows, it's a busy job. Shitty nappies, trying not to get buried under a deluge of toys and mess, more shitty nappies, dealing with rowing children, dealing with accident prone children, trying to keep them fed and watered and semi clean, trying to keep yourself fed and watered and semi clean, not to mention doctors appointments, sickness and keeping up to date with their social calendar... it's pretty much non stop. There's a reason why you have to pay someone a full time wage to look after your kids full time. It would have been more apt to ask me that question after graduating university, when I spent endless months, literally, doing nothing. What did I do all day then? I've got no idea. Watching a lot of Jeremy Kyle probably.

So how come, when I have spent years using the "too busy" excuse for not writing, I have found an hour or two a day, to do it? Maybe some of my other jobs are suffering. The house gets more messy but I usually find time to tidy it up at the end of the day, and if I don't it's not a problem. And I no longer spend two hours a day cooking a meal for children who then refuse to eat it and demand pizza and chicken nuggets, at least 3 times a week they get their pizza and chicken nuggets, saving me 6 hours a week of futile cooking.

I've got a friend who wakes at ridiculous o'clock in the morning, gets herself and her little boy ready for the day (by herself) then works a full time (very stressful) job, picks up her son from nursery, spends at least an hour of quality time with him (I'm with my kids all day and I am embarrassed to say they probably don't get that much quality time from me), before working all evening, sometimes until midnight, before bed and waking up at 6am to do it all again the next day. And her house is spotless. Spotless, I tell you. And she still finds time to have a laugh with her mates, read, watch telly, iron. She has the same number of hours as me, yet she does everything that I do and so much more! How on earth does she do it?

I have a theory. There is a common belief (apparently not true but it works as a metaphor here so bare with me) that goldfish only grow to the size of their tank. I think the same is true of time. If you have lots of time on your hands, maybe cleaning the bathroom might take an hour or two, if you have very little, frankly you can do it in less than fifteen minutes. My bathroom may not be as spotless now that I spend only fifteen minutes on it, but you wouldn't notice the difference, and having a tidy bathroom really isn't that important to me.

I love organisation and time management. You give me a way to find an extra hour in the day and I'll try it. But it's like stroking a cat the wrong way for me because it's does not come naturally. My messy house, and childhood messy bedroom, is an outward manifestation of a messy brain. But being organised gives me more time. If I don't do a weekly meal plan for instance, I end up in the supermarket every day buying all kinds of things we don't need, and if I don't get my work out in before taking my son to preschool, I won't fit it in later in the day.

The man works 6 days a week, and long hours at that. Yet in the last 2 weeks he has found time to build me 5 raised beds for my veggies, taken down and re-sited our garden shed, build 5 concrete steps and gravel our driveway. I've hardly seen him, but this is all stuff he has wanted to do, not just to save us money (which I am eternally grateful for of course, thanks babe) but also because he enjoys doing it. We make time for the things that are important to us, and if we don’t make the time, maybe it wasn’t that important to us in the first place.

We all have the same number of hours in a day. I am busy. I don’t have enough time. But with a little organisation, and focussing on what's important to me, I'm finding some space in my tank I didn't know I had.

1 comment:

  1. As a fellow stay-at-home mum who often gets the "you must spend all day watching day-time telly" line from my former work colleagues and others, I whole-heartedly agree with everything that you've written, and would also like to point out that a)your friend with the spotless house and her child don't spend as much time at home as we do and therefore that is the reason her house is tidy - mine which is occupied 24/7 looks like an explosion in a toy factory all the time, b)ironing is a very unnecessary chore - I only iron the man's work shirts, everyone else remains crumpled, and c)most importantly, it takes kids five times as long to put their shoes on, have a wee, put their coat on, get in the car, get out of the car again because they need a poo, go back and find their favourite toy, all so you can nip to the local shop to buy a bag of nuggets because you haven't had time to go shopping!

    And besides, what's more important: reading ANOTHER story book or cleaning bath?