Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Busy is a Choice

I told myself I wasn’t going to post when I was irritated, but this just blew me away. I’m supposedly on the Do Not Call list, but you still get calls from charities. I got a phone call one afternoon last week from a company that sells subscriptions to support a national charity – a wonderful reputable one, actually. I have supported this in the past, because I did have a magazine I wanted to renew and they had it available so, great. I no longer need the magazine – the babies are all grown up. And now I do not have time to read magazines. I wish I did – there are a bunch that I would love to peruse over a cup of coffee. I just really don’t have time. And that’s what I told the telemarketer.
Unbelievably, he came back with, “Really? You don’t even have time to keep up with current events like with Time magazine? We have a great deal on that.”
I said no thanks and hung up, but then I started thinking and I got furious. How dare this person question my statement? I said I didn’t have time, and that meant…
well, that meant I don’t make the time for that particular activity. Everyone has the same number of hours in every day, it’s what we choose to do with them that matter.
Okay, so what do I do instead of choosing to read a magazine?
I picked a Tuesday to track my daily activity to find out what happens to my time. I scribbled everything on a notebook that I carried in my back pocket, and here’s the translation as close as I can get it. Of course, I embellished as I translated. Can’t just not explain some of this stuff…

(6:33 am) Shower, dress, pluck eyebrows, decided even eyeliner is too much trouble, but moisturizer w/ sunscreen isn’t
(6:54 am) Get Elliott & Abby up, dressed, fed
Start one load laundry
Feed cats and dogs
Check backpacks, write in assignment book, make one cold lunch
Find new shoelaces, replace broken one while kids brush teeth
(7:47 am) Run to bus stop with kids
Pick up three pieces of trash from easement, put away scooter
Re-hang coats on racks, take one to laundry, pretreat stains
Convince wood-burning stove to light again (saves on propane)
Clean up cat food from dog getting into it, scold dog and feed cat again
Make coffee, check email, check list for today
Drink coffee, eat banana, enter Scout popcorn information on computer
Put laundry in dryer
Make a phone call regarding an email, get answer and reply to email
(8:20 am) Wake Ben, get him dressed and teeth brushed (he doesn’t eat in the morning – more proof that he is a clone of his father)
Start car so it can warm up
Find Ben’s shoes (flashlight required)
(8:54 am) Drive to preschool, get him checked in, hug him several times, escape
Drop off books (1 read, 1 unread) at library, use their quiet bathroom, look quickly at self-help shelf and decide it’s pretty hopeless, and a book that I don’t have time to read is not going to make any difference, leave
Drive home, pack a lunch for Ben, pack food and find cleaning supplies purchased last week for Clark, check bank balance online, start another load of laundry
(9:59 am) Drive to Clark’s (87 year old neighbor, I clean his house once a week), put food in his fridge, clean bathroom, sweep and mop kitchen floor, do laundry, chat with him about the inauguration, clean kitchen counters, sort his old newspapers to take to recycling, hug him, leave
(11:22 am) drive to preschool, wait for train, listen to NPR show until callers start (love news, can’t stand the callers), get to preschool, apologize for being late, gather Ben’s papers and coat
Drive to grocery store, shop, drop coupon folder, grab broom from clean up station and sweep them all into a pile and toss them in the trash
Drive home, unload groceries, find a place on the fridge to hang Ben’s picture (waffle prints, w for waffle and wait and water and wiggle…)
Sit with Ben while he eats lunch, read him Naughty Nicky, find some workbook activity pages for him to do
Put away groceries, wash apples, warm up a cup of coffee, put another log on the fire
(12:41 pm) Check email again, eat ham, cheese, hardboiled egg, large glass water and three Girl Scout cookies, reply to four emails, forward one, and check new church website for changes and additions
Change out laundry
Check the activity pages Ben did, read Hooway for Wodney, find a web site for him to play on
Sweep and mop kitchen floor, bundle up again to go feed and water chickens (roosters actually cooperated today)
Bring in eggs and 1 armload firewood
Rearrange fridge to accommodate eggs which have piled up – text two people to see if they want eggs
Fix printer – Ben tried to print and paper jammed, reprint page and watch him play one game
Drink some coffee while staring into deep freeze, waiting for dinner to magically appear; take out chicken and hope for the best
Fold one load laundry, put Ben’s clothes away, take sheets off bunk bed and sit for a few minutes to repair beloved stuffed animal that dogs fought over
Take box of stuff to car to take to Goodwill tomorrow, bring in another armload of firewood
Answer phone call, clean counters and drink coffee while chatting, take notes on follow-up activities that result from inability to say no to caller
(3:03 pm) Get kids off the bus, listen to their day, unpack backpacks, prepare an apple with peanut butter, a bagel with cream cheese and a pack of popcorn because they couldn’t all want the same thing…Allow them to watch 45 minutes of television so I can make three more phone calls about soccer stuff and put away supplies from yesterday’s cub scout meeting
(3:59 pm) Turn television off and start chores – Elliot brings in firewood, Abby puts away some clean dishes, Ben gathers laundry and they each have a trash can to take out
Homework (Elliott) and play time (Abby and Ben)
Sort through mail while helping Elliott and watching Abby’s fashion show and admiring Ben’s Lego creations
Cut up chicken, marinate for stir fry, rinse dishes and start dishwasher
Eat 2 more girl scout cookies and drink a glass of milk, hide cookies in back of cupboard, rearrange cupboard and throw away stale crackers (why can’t saltines come in smaller packages?)
Fold laundry, put away, watch tomorrow’s weather and a little news (see, I do keep up with current events)
Scoop litter box, walk out to field to dump the bucket, wash hands, arms and change shirt (grossest job in the universe…)
(5:05 pm) Answer phone call, look up information online, pass on to caller, accept thanks for being a lifesaver
While online, look up more science projects for next week’s scout meeting and make list of supplies, email a mom about doing snacks, email Cubmaster about belt loops, make phone call verifying rental hall for Pinewood Derby
Add logs to fireplace, go to kid’s bathroom to get sawdust out of eye, clean toothpaste out of sink and pick up toys and towels while I’m there
Find several things in kids’ bathroom that would be great for scout meeting, put them in a bag (and hope I can find them next week)
Put books back on the shelf in story corner in the boys’ room, take stuffed animals back to Abby’s room, remember a birthday while I’m in her room and pick out a card, sign, address and stamp it
(6:14 pm) Make dinner with lots of help, put ice on Ben’s head from fighting over the stepstool with Abby, send Abby to time out, put dinner on the table for Elliott, argue with him over watching tv since Dad isn’t home, give in, watch some bizarre kid turn into a bunch of different aliens while eating, get Abby out of time out, serve her and Ben dinner
Retrieve cat food dish from outside, scold dog, feed cats again because they are all hungry and meowing loudly every time I walk into the kitchen
Unload dishwasher, Abby and Ben help (sort of – I have no idea where the salad tongs disappeared to…)
(7:04 pm) Read library books
(7:33 pm) Answer phone, go to computer and add three things to the church meeting agenda on the 22nd, check email again, reply to two, forward two to someone who may know the answer ‘cause I sure don’t…
(8:28 pm) Straighten toys and put sheets on bunk bed while kids play rock paper scissors to decide who gets to be last in the shower
Cycle kids through the shower and brushing their teeth, getting pajamas on
Put logs on fire, sweep around fireplace
(9:15 pm) escape to my own bathroom to catch up on note taking and have silence…
(9:19 pm) break’s over… Ben is screaming again, remove his game from Elliott’s DS
Sit on bed and review the day with each kid (sometimes this is a dog pile, sometimes I get individual time, tonight is a dog pile)
(9:41 pm) warm up a cup of coffee, rinse dinner dishes, put in dishwasher, answer phone, walk Ben back to bed, take Elliott’s DS away, get Abby a drink, take notes on phone call
Get online and complete Kidsafe enrollment so I can help coach Ben’s soccer team, fix printer again, write several things on grocery list
Check weather, respond to email
Walk Ben back to bed, cover Abby up, take Elliott’s PSP away
Drink entire bottle of water I was supposed to be sipping on all day, email soccer coordinator about Kidsafe enrollment, print scout activity instructions
(10:41 pm) Put log on fire, take Ben’s DS away from Elliott, sit with Elliott until he tells me what’s bugging him so he can go to sleep
(11:09 pm) warm up coffee, check email one last time, check other websites I try and keep up with, get great fire station fundraiser idea from one and make notes, look over calendar for rest of week, look on craigslist for soccer stuff for kids
Type church minutes from last meeting, add one more thing to agenda
Look for insurance bill Don asked me to mail and pay it, hunt for his stamps and give up, go get one of mine
(11: 48 pm) Be glad Elliott and Ben are finally asleep, prepare and eat whole grapefruit because it sounded good, watch last few minutes of CSI:NY
Brush teeth, sit down with this list and translate!
(1:29 am) Done. Going to bed.

Looking back one week later, that was almost a typical day – Don being out of town means some things I don’t normally do like chickens and catbox are added in there, but for a Tuesday, that was pretty accurate. Could I have read the magazine instead of watch tv at midnight? Maybe, but why work that hard? Besides, if my husband isn’t home and I can watch a few minutes of Carmine Giovinazzo…
So Mr. Telemarketer, I suppose I do have the time to read a magazine, but I don’t want to. All the things I do are for my kids and my community, and I’m going to have plenty of time when the kids are grown to sit around and read. I’ll subscribe then. (If your children are older, could you please reassure me that I will have time to read… someday?)


Susan Raihala said...

Brilliant! Every mommy out there can totally relate to the mountain of minutiae that constitutes the average day. I recently cancelled my sub to Discover mag--I've subscribed for almost 20 years--because of repeated pushy and pestering phone calls to extend my sub, which didn't expire until 2010! I told them to send me a refund for the remaining issues. I'm switching to Scientific American.

Honestly, we can make time for what's really important. For me, reading takes precedence over household chores any day, so I live in pigsty but get lots of reading and crafting done every day. Ten years ago, I would have sworn blue my house would always stay clean. Go figure.

firecracker panda said...


Gina said...

Wow, you are one busy lady! I tried writing down my day one time and it just made me tired!