I’ve been tracking my time this week. My next book, Mosaic, will be full of lessons from time logs, so I need to get back in the habit of logging my own hours.
I always tell people attempting this for the first time that it will be instructive. That’s an incomplete statement. It’s instructive even if you’ve done it dozens of times.
The first thing I am reminded of is just how hard it is to log long hours. On Monday this week, I was working at 8:10 in the morning, and at 10:10 at night. I had a sitter from 8-5:30; the kids were in their rooms after 8:40 p.m. But I only managed to “bill” 8.75 hours. That’s because I ran during the day (50 minutes) and had lunch with the kids (20 minutes). I also had a coffee with commenter Rachel, which meant I had to shower after running (hi Rachel! You’re probably glad to know that). I cut out a bit before 5:30 to get organized for the kids’ dinner before my sitter left.
Tuesday my billed hours were even lower. I spent an hour going to celebrate my son’s 4th birthday at his preschool. I had lunch with my kids and we lingered for a while — plus my toddler specifically wanted me to put her down for her nap. So I did. Then we celebrated the 4-year-old’s birthday at home once the 6-year-old got off the bus. Even though I worked 2 hours at night after the kids went to bed, I only “billed” about 7.5 hours.
There’s not much to be said about that. All those were my choices in the pursuit of having a full and meaningful life. I like being able to eat with my kids — something that won’t be an option in another 4 years or so when they’re all in school full time. If I didn’t run during the day, I wouldn’t get to run (I’ve been a single parent more often than I’d like these past few weeks — but that’s a matter for a different blog post. Or not). I totally enjoyed reading The Boy Who Loved Math to my son’s preschool class. I see no reason that 4-year-olds can’t hear about prime numbers and negative numbers and the crazy life of Paul Erdős. Nonetheless, if I feel that making progress in my career and doing a good job on projects I care about requires working 45-50 hours per week, this explains why I always wind up working on weekends.
I’m also trying to get granular on how my evenings go with the kids. The evenings are finally starting to be a bit more fun now that the baby is about to turn two. I can have conversations with all the kids, and there’s less screaming. I was solo for both of these evenings.
Here’s Tuesday (J = 6-y-o; S = 4-y-o; R = 2-y-o):
5:20-8:50 – full on kid time. (5:20-5:30, watch TV, do puzzle with R; 5:30-5:50- cook, back and forth to living room while kids watch TV; 5:50-6:10 dinner; 6:10-6:25- clean up, dishes, unload dishwasher; 6:25-6:45 – play outside; 6:45-7:05 – play Hungry Hippo in basement; 7:05-7:10 – get R a cupcake. 7:10-7:30 – put R to bed — bath and stories; 7:30-7:40 – some work, boys want me downstairs, so give up on that; 7:40-8:15 – play with boys – puzzles, Hungry Hippo; 8:15-8:25- ice cream with boys; 8:25-8:50 – stories – Boy Who Loved Math plus Big Book of Why)
5:25-8:55 – kid time (5:25-6:25 – make dinner, eat dinner and cupcakes, clean up from dinner; 6:25-7:25 – mostly puzzles with R – do Barnyard puzzle 4 times; 7:25-7:45 – put R to sleep, 10 minutes of stories in there; 7:45-8:15 – play with boys in basement – puzzles, Hungry Hippo, etc; 8:15-8:35 – boys’ bath; 8:35-8:55 – read to boys and get them in bed)
I seem to be spending a lot of time doing puzzles. That’s because I don’t mind them. They’re less exciting to do with the 2-year-old because they’re not mentally challenging for me. But the older kids do the 200-piece variety, which I find reasonably engaging and relaxing.
I wish doing the dishes after dinner took less time. My general feeling is that if you’re in a family and you cooked dinner, someone else should do the dishes, but while the kids bring theirs to the sink, I haven’t figured out how to teach them pan scrubbing yet. The 6-year-old may be getting close.
I’d like to get the older boys into bed slightly earlier. The 4-year-old needs it. Then again, getting them into bed doesn’t help if I’m not willing to enforce silence. Last night the boys played together in their connected rooms until 10, which was sweet, but they all paid for it this morning.
How are you spending your evenings these days?
Photo courtesy flickr user ksyz