Space for spontaneity

One of the reasons I like planning a few “anchor” events for my weekend is that I find a few plans still leave plenty of space for spontaneity — but without the mental sludge of worrying the weekend will be wasted (or spending my precious weekend time making plans).

My main anchor event this weekend was going apple picking with the kids at an orchard near my brother’s house, and then visiting my brother’s family Saturday evening. I also planned to do a long run of at least 70 minutes (half-marathon training), go to church, and celebrate my middle kid’s 3rd birthday.

What did that leave space for? Plenty. My husband called from the drive home on Friday night and mentioned that the Barnes Foundation — which has just moved to downtown Philly — had late night hours on Friday. So we packed up the three kids and went. The museum is quite striking, and it was fun to listen to live jazz, though let’s just say there’s a reason most people don’t take three small children to nice museums at bedtime. We lasted half an hour, maybe. Saturday morning I took a nap after doing the early shift with the baby. After, I did some coloring (with crayons and a glitter pen!) with my 5-year-old. It was quite Zen, drawing and coloring a butterfly. I was trying to make my crayon strokes all go in the same direction — which brought back unexpected memories of 6th grade social studies, when I had to color in a map of the various Soviet Socialist Republics. I was docked for making one, let’s say what was then known as the Estonian SSR, striped, not solid. That led me down a mental road of pondering how I memorized the names of the S.S.Rs, but learned absolutely nothing about their history, culture, etc. — information that might have been useful, given that the USSR broke up about a year later. There is a larger point here about the shallowness of education, even at good schools, but I digress. I wound up getting two long runs in (one 50 minutes, one 70 minutes). I made an apple crisp, which took care of 4 apples. That just leaves 80 to go! (And that’s after we foisted a bag on my brother). I spent half an hour making silly faces with the baby as we rolled around on some pillows. She was actually appreciative of my effort at making zucchini fries (with crushed tortilla chips as the breading). And she liked her brother’s ice cream cake.

There were some low moments, of course. My husband called it the “never again” look I had on my face at the Barnes museum. Next time, we get a babysitter. But overall, a pretty good few days.

Did you have any “anchor events” this weekend? And what happened spontaneously?

Photo courtesy flickr user piermario

6 thoughts on “Space for spontaneity

  1. We accidentally double booked the weekend- we’d promised the kids a camping trip with the day care crowd and I had my best friend from college coming through. It worked out awesome, though- my husband took the kids camping Saturday, and I got an evening alone with my friend. She had to leave about 3 hours before the kids and my husband were due back today, so I got work done, wrote a blog post I’ve been wanting to write, even did a little work on one of my projects. And I did the laundry, made a menu plan, and wrote a grocery list, but that sounds less exciting.
    Anyway- it was a great weekend.
    And don’t get me started on the pointlessness of most memorization assignments. I had to reproduce the full glycolysis cycle on a biochem exam in college. I’d just finished organic chemistry the year before, so rather than just straight out memorize it, I studied pushing electrons around and deriving it. Much more useful for my future studies (although not so much for what I actually ended up doing for a living… but that is OK).

    1. @Cloud – 3 hours of kid-free weekend time is an unexpected gift. I realized the other day how rare it was for me to have kid-free time when I’m not about to go to sleep and not working. That’s the upside of business travel: sometimes there’s alone time in the hotel in the evening!

  2. I’ve finally come to realize that my hubby and I have a really low threshold for our schedules – ie we need to NOT have “too many” things on the calendar or else it is just way too stressful.

    For us, that means we plan only *one* thing a day in advance (fun or errand/appointment). We are still hostage to our daughter’s nap and sleep schedule (if she doesn’t sleep, no one else gets to!) so that enforces some down time on us as well.

    This still allows us to go out to dinner, or spontaneously call friends to meet us at a park or something, but not putting a bunch of stuff on the calendar in advance is what works for us to feel relaxed and happy.

    1. @ARC- one thing works. Sometimes that’s what we have too (though it tends to be 1 thing for the whole family – adults need to get their exercise in too, and with 3 kids we have to plan it, so that winds up being a second thing).

  3. first of all, let me say i love your blog — i thought 168 hours was a very interesting read, and i’m glad to see that you are writing more here! i think our philosophies about work/life/family balance are very similar though i’m still figuring things out as a new mom.

    i love the ‘anchor event’ idea. with a 6 month old, one main activity is pretty much all we can muster these days – but it doesn’t mean there isn’t time for plenty of more fun in between (family cuddle/play sessions, runs, brunches out, movies in, and the like).

    finally as a former philadelphian – wow that must have been cool to see the barnes! i am from where it was originally and i didn’t realize they only just now moved.

    1. @Sarah- thanks for visiting the blog! I hope you’ll keep reading. I try to post 3-4 times per week. It always takes time to figure things out after every new addition to the family. I find myself looking through my own book to remind myself of different time management techniques… 🙂

      The Barnes was cool – and I hope to go back when I’m not chasing a 5-year-old through the galleries.

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