This Thing I'm Doing: Billing My Time

About Christina

Hello, friends! It’s Ungodly O’Clock in the morning here at the beautiful Smarty Mommies west coast hub, and I’m as happy as a clam to be up. Why? BECAUSE NO ONE ELSE IS. It’s part of this new thing I’m doing where I actually, intentionally, purposefully make some time for myself within my own life. Do you know how much I hate myself for having written that sentence? No? Then let me explain. You know those minivans with the license plate holders that read “Mom’s Taxi?” I traditionally have hated those along with those who proudly hold their plates within them. Also, you know those articles in all mom magazines (I’m looking at you, Family Circle! Pound it out, Redbook! High five, Parents!) about how mothers forget their own needs in favor of taking care of the needs of everyone around them? Yeah, FUCK those self-loathing drones, right? Ha! Well, then fuck me because I’ve become one of them. And the Mom’s Taxi plate holder isn’t on my car, but I’m starting to understand the sentiment and the wry, sad smile one must cry through when screwing it in to one’s bumper. Because, shit howdy, if it hasn’t gotten all sad SAHM up in here this last summer.

She has no face. If you think this is a merit badge rather than a total tragedy, then this blog might not be for you.

It’s a frustrating, but simple equation.

  1. SLB works ungodly hours and is often not home in time to see the girls before bed, let alone help with their care.

  2. I pulled Livy out of Pre-K for the summer to do some homeschooling.

  3. Maddsy went from pleasantly lumpish little baby to full-on mobile beast.

  4. Traditionally, we don’t hire sitters around here unless there’s an emergency or a very special event.

  5. I’m a completion junkie with very high standards, and, with small children and limited practical help, completion of many tasks and high standards are impossible to come by. Although I understand this, it generally doesn’t prevent me from white-knuckling through attempts at flawless order and perfection as a rule. Oh, and I have OCD (not the cute thing that people say when they like to color code their notes or hang their clothes all facing the same way, but rather the ugly thing that sometimes makes me Bat Shit Crazy). I suppose you could guess at that from those last couple of sentences.

And KABOOM! I’m a one-woman Mom Show with no time for myself at all. There are people who can handle that kind of self-erasure from their lives, I assume, but I am not one of them. It was both a very satisfying summer in the amount of time I was able to spend with both girls, and I was left repeating the phrase “I have nothing. Oh, God, I have nothing of my own,” in a breathless panic at the end of most days. Overly dramatic? Probably. Laughable in years to come? Maybe. Sustainable? Absolutely not, no, nuh-uh, not a goddamn chance, nope.So, I’m experimenting with following my husband’s time management lead and “billing” my time (Oh, didn't I mention that I'm married to Mitch McDeere?). I suppose that some would call this drawing up a time map, or just plain old temporal budgeting, but the idea of billing is easy for me to understand. The idea is this: Every week I MUST spend 10 – 12 hours on myself – on my own projects, goals, friends, values, and interests. So, I have to write. And I have to exercise. And I have to read things that are neither parenting- nor teaching-related. And this means, that, sometimes very painfully, I also have to leave things as they are when my first impulse is to continue working into my own self-care time. For example (it is post-bed-time the next day as of this continued writing), right now if I look to my right there is a little girl’s jacket on the floor near where I kicked off my sandals. If I look to my left there is a pile of Livy’s adorable correspondence that needs to be put into envelopes, addressed, stamped, and mailed. I will address neither of these things tonight because it is Writing Time, to be followed by Ugly Yoga Time.

As if any yoga Abby McDeere did could be ugly...

So, it’s an experiment, This Thing I’m Doing, and subject to change as it needs to. Maybe I won’t feel so desperate now that Livy’s back in Pre-K 3 days a week and I can take Maddsy to childcare at the gym to get more regular exercise in. And maybe Maddsy’s naps will lengthen into something resembling an actual break for me during the day. But, for now, and to treat the high tension wrought by the very un-lazy, crazy days of summer, I’m billin’ like a villain. And you, readers? How do you manage your time to include time for self-care and nurturing your own interests? How do you take care of yourself while hustling to take care of everything (and everyone) else?