In years of writing about time management, I’ve realized that different people have different levels of tolerance for activity. Mine is probably on the high side. That’s a fortunate thing with four children. If it stressed me out to have swim practice and a flag football game on the same day we would have an issue.
I am also naturally a planner. I like knowing fun stuff is coming up. I can anticipate the fun stuff and stretch the experienced pleasure. I know not everyone feels the same way about plans. Some people feel they are constricting, but I also know that many fun things in life do require planning, and failing to plan means time will be spent mindlessly. In our connected world, that tends to mean time will be spent scrolling around online. Such time is effortlessly fun, but it’s also completely forgettable. It disappears as if it never existed.
Which is why I cringed when I saw a recent post on Instagram: “I don’t understand people who plan things for the weekend. We just did things all week. What’s next, more things?”
Yes, indeed, more things. More wonderful things. More things that make us feel like we’re living life, rather than spending all potential leisure time watching TV or, well, scrolling around on Instagram.
This past weekend was full of things. I planned to get up by sunrise on Saturday and go for a long run. I did, and was rewarded with perfect fall running weather, and a sense of accomplishment by the time we did the morning sports run (one kid to swim practice, another to flag football practice and a game). A key point here: early morning was probably the only time that run would have happened that day, and planning meant it did, rather than my telling myself a story that I have no time to exercise.
Then — again as planned — we went to Dorney Park (my husband had an office event there). I had never been before and while it was a bit chillier than expected (how did it manage to be 10 degrees colder in Allentown than in my part of PA an hour away?) there were rides for all the kids. And an animatronic giant. And funnel cake!
We came home, the sitter came, and my husband and I got cleaned up to go to a party for parents of students at our youngest kid’s preschool. We’ve been sending kids to that preschool for eight years now (minus a one-year gap) so we know a lot of the parents. It was fun to dress up, and chat with old friends, and make new ones while drinking wine outside on a crisp fall night. Investing in relationships is a great use of time. It’s also a use of time that tends to require planning. Someone had to plan a party. Sitters don’t just magically show up.
Sunday morning, my husband took the three oldest kids to a swim meet. He had to plan ahead to get them entered, but the kids were very proud of themselves (my 11-year-old beat his best time by several seconds).
I took the 3-year-old to church, where I practiced with the choir and sang for the service. Choir takes a commitment — more things, as the Instagram post might note — but I believe I have a richer life singing difficult and beautiful music than I would have spending an equivalent quantity of time looking at photos of other people’s concerts. We sang the operatic anthem In the Year King Uzziah Died, which might have been a bit much for some members of the congregation (I heard someone afterwards noting that it was “long”) but I rather enjoyed it. And the more user-friendly soprano descant for Amazing Grace.
We all met up at home afterwards. Then my 8-year-old and I celebrated his last day as an 8-year-old by getting into our rain gear and driving down to Lincoln Financial Field. Yep, even more things: seats for the Eagles game with a great view, given to my little guy as a birthday present because he wanted that experience. We had such a good time despite the rain and my son — who usually acts like I’m giving him cooties when I try to kiss him good night — wanted me to hold his hand as we walked to and from the car.
Yes, even though I did things all week, I’m happy my life still has space for that. Did it take energy to do things all weekend? Sure, but energy, unlike time, is renewable. I find that I draw energy from meaningful things. Consequently, I did not hit Monday exhausted. I felt like my weekend was good. Full, not crazy. We capped it with a short calendar meeting to discuss upcoming weekends. We have tickets to several fall events that I’m already looking forward to. More things! I wouldn’t want it any other way.