What fits in bits of time

img_2235This was a relatively short weekend, as Sunday was officially a work day for me (well, sort of — more on that below). Friday my husband and I went to his office Christmas party. The toddler, mercifully, continued a streak of sleeping past 6:30 a.m. on Saturday morning. I celebrated by making star-shaped pancakes, per a request from the 5-year-old.

Even with the later wake-up, Saturday morning felt long, punctuated with moments of frenzy, including a rush to get the 7-year-old out the door for this Cub Scout rain gutter regatta. He came in img_2205third for his den (very exciting). I took the 5-year-old and toddler to a birthday party at an indoor play place. He fell asleep in the car on the way home, so we all chilled out for a while, watching Planet Earth.

Then, the question: what to do? I am keeping track of my time, so I know that quite a bit happened between 2:25 and 5:25 p.m. I wouldn't have guessed all of it could fit in 3 hours, but it did. The key was moving quickly from one thing to the next.

I wanted to go for a run but we needed groceries, so I ran on the treadmill at home while my husband went to get them. I did intervals so the whole thing took about 20 minutes. Then I booked a flight I needed to. I heard the baby waking up at 3:00, so I quickly finished and then we all high tailed it into the car so we could make it to the Morris Arboretum to see the Christmas trains before the park closed at 4:00. I did not think this would work, but my husband was adamant it would. We pulled out of the driveway at 3:15 and into the arboretum at 3:32. We walked through the trains and even had 5 img_2214minutes to go to the Out on a Limb exhibit (where you can climb on a rope net through the forest canopy — fun!)

(Funny side note: the toddler was standing on the sidewalk at the arboretum and I was like, hey, why is there a puddle forming in front of him? Turns out he had managed to pull down his pants and diaper and was peeing. I really just never know what he's going to do next…)

Then we hooked it over to IKEA. We checked the 5- and 7-year-old into Smaland (the kid play area) and went shopping with the non-Smaland eligible other children. The 9-year-old complained bitterly about this, that he is now too old for Swedish play lands. Ah, the angst of lost youth. My husband had his sights set on a particular couch for the basement. It is not my favorite but it is functional and can serve as an extra bed. We also picked up some other random things because, hey, IKEA. We were in the checkout line when my husband ran to get the kids at Smaland when their time was up at 5:25.

Of course, getting the couch back to the house took longer than one might think. This is the trouble of time estimation. Sometimes you're over, sometimes you're under. Still, I was impressed with the number of things that got done in 3 hours.

Sunday had a very different vibe, for me at least. I got up with the toddler at 5:50, hung out with him and got ready, then left the house around 8:20 for a 10:00 flight to Cancun. I gave a speech in the evening to 400 people there for a corporate retreat. I had about 2 hours of downtime before I met up with the organizers for dinner, so I was able to sit on the beach for a while. Hence the photo, which looks stormier than it was. That dark cloud passed quickly and then it was lovely. While working on weekends gets a bad reputation, I have to say that this was probably more relaxing (even speaking to 400 people) than hanging around the house with the kids. In fact, I know it was. I called home, and my husband reported that he took all four to church, only to discover upon parking that the 7-year-old had only one of his shoes. Later, he took all four to a movie. Whoa.

It was a quick trip -- I am home now, and done with planes (as far as I know) for 2017.

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9 Responses to What fits in bits of time


  1. Zoe says:

    Remember that your ‘working on the weekend’ looks very different to most!

    • @Zoe- of course! That’s my point: the idea that work is stressful and not-working is not depends entirely on what the work is, and what the alternative is. If not-working time involves primary caregiving responsibilities of young children…it’s probably not going to be relaxing. If work is manning a retail store in the mall during Christmas shopping, that will be stressful, but other kinds of work (like answering emails with no distractions) probably isn’t so bad.

  2. Kim from Philadelphia says:

    I like to be productive, but I find rushing from one thing to the next far from enjoyable. You get the gold star for getting this much done!
    IKEA on the weekend with 4 kids… oy!
    Though the train exhibit at Morris is worth some rushing around! We love it there!

  3. Connie says:

    The one shoe story made me laugh. We have twin boys and when they were about 8 I took them across town to the dentist. Upon arrival I discover that one child has NO shoes on. What? He knew where we were going!
    After shaking my head, I took one kid into the office and left him in the care of the staff, explaining our issue. I sat in the car with the other child. After Child #1 was done getting his teeth cleaned, he came out and gave his shoes to the shoeless child so he could then go in and get his teeth cleaned.
    How, I ask, how? lol!

    • @Connie- I love it! But there is a theory in my family that this was deliberate subterfuge. Kid did not want to go to church, hence kid left shoe at home. I’m not sure he’s quite that devious, but it’s possible.

  4. Ruth says:

    Hi I am almost done reading “168 Hours.” It is great and gives me some hope I can have a happy but full life. I find that when I keep track of my time I get a lot more done – just the act of recording it seems to give me an added sense of responsibility with my time!

    • @Ruth- thanks for reading the book! And I agree that recording creates a lot of accountability. That’s one reason I’m doing it.

  5. Lindsay says:

    Doing some time logging back in April inspired me to apply this same strategy to more parts of my day! I recently attended a local wedding at 11 a.m. It was over just after noon. The reception’s start time was 5 p.m. If I had been an out-of-towner, I might have struggled with what to do in the downtime. Instead, I went home, changed clothes, ate lunch, went grocery shopping, published a blog post, dressed again, and drove to the reception. It was an excellent way to spend my time.

    • @Lindsay- so smart to fill that time! But whoa, what a gap. That would be rough on the out-of-towners!

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