I first started writing this in a hotel cafe in downtown Chicago, where I flew to give a speech Friday. The flight in was fairly charmed. I got up on time to run on the treadmill, then drove to the airport, where the trip from Philadelphia to Chicago, which took days 200 years ago, took all of 1 hour and 45 minutes.
Alas we then sat on the runway for about half an hour waiting for a gate to clear. Not a problem the travelers 200 years ago anticipated…Also, I kept getting alerts from United that the weather was going to be really, really rainy…and maybe I wanted to change my travel plans? Not really – I wanted to get home Friday night, a quick in-and-out trip, but…it was not to be. Schedules get disrupted; life happens.
This week has featured a lot of conversations with people tracking their time for my future series that I’m tentatively calling “Tranquility by Tuesday.” First observation: It’s never a typical week! Of course, everyone who responded to my call for time diaries/makeovers has been reading this blog or my books and so they know this. We share a laugh or commiserate about exactly *why* the particular week was atypical. I’ve been developing a set of very practical time strategies that are widely applicable and can help life feel more productive and calm. It’s fun to study people’s schedules and then share some of these ideas and how they might work. Individual coaching isn’t part of my business model but I do enjoy thinking about individual schedules as part of larger projects.
Some of the week’s highlights: I walked my 4-year-old to preschool on Tuesday. We live close enough that we can do this. It’s not going to work every day but I’m aiming for once a week or so until the weather gets cold enough that it’s unpleasant. He’s got all kinds of fascinating thoughts these days, and various observations on the dandelions, leaves, pine cones, skid marks, squirrels, and other things we encounter along the way.
These outdoor walks are nice because I’ve been running on the treadmill (indoors) more. This summer I really got in a habit of running early on the days my husband or another adult was here, and I like it. I like to get this taken care of before everything else. I like to experience the morning outdoors, then come home, start brewing the coffee, take a shower, and come down to relax and savor my cup. But the sun is now rising at about 6:50 a.m., and there’s only 10 minutes of light before that moment. We don’t have sidewalks and I’m a little wary of running in the dark. Friday morning when I pulled out of the driveway at 6:10 a.m. to go to the airport, I passed a woman walking her dog; it was almost impossible to see her until my headlights were right on her. On Wednesday morning I ran from 6:40 to 7:20, but that’s about as late as I can go without throwing the morning off (unless I make special arrangements. Possible, but requires extra logistics).
And that will be changed by a new development around here: my 7th grader auditioned for, and was accepted into, his school’s advanced chorus. Very exciting! This meets two mornings a week at 7:20 a.m. More logistics! There are a lot of logistics with four kids. There will be more logistics with five kids. However, the good news is that by the time the baby has much going on in terms of activities, my eldest will be driving. The age spread does make some things easier, especially now as the older kids enter the ages where they can stay home alone, or even start babysitting.*
This weekend we’re hosting a 10th birthday party. The kids have Monday and Tuesday off school for Rosh Hashanah. I’m working on Tuesday, but I blocked Monday so we can do something fun. Alas, I was better at blocking the time than figuring out what, exactly, we’d do, so that’s a work in progress. I planned to go to a Saturday morning flag football game, and my husband’s office picnic, but then as I was going to O’Hare Friday afternoon, happy after the conclusion of a well-received speech, I got a note. My flight was delayed two hours.
Awesome…but still worth going to O’Hare. Then later on the trip I learned the flight was canceled. I tried to see what else there was but the one other United flight to Philly that night only let me book standby. I took that, and then went on Travelocity. The pickings were slim — basically nothing on United, American, etc. until late Saturday, if that. I found a Frontier Airlines one-way flight to Trenton early Saturday morning. So I grabbed that. The travel people at my speaking bureau were looking too, but everything was canceled. So they booked me a hotel. I only had my dress and suit jacket to wear, but fortunately I’d at least anticipated that something might go wrong, and I packed a toothbrush and contact lens solution in my purse. So I was prepared.
Then the dilemma. I went to O’Hare but I was going to be there for quite a while, with an uncertain outcome. Would I get a seat on that United flight? Would it go? I really hate deliberating over stuff like this. It wastes a ton of time. I read for a while, and got dinner (and ice cream, pictured), then finally figured out how to use the United app to see where I was in the standby line. Not high up, so then when that flight got delayed for an hour I bailed and took a cab to my hotel, where I slept, sort of. Not the best night ever. I got up, put my business attire back on, and went back to O’Hare on a packed 5:30 a.m. shuttle full of others people who’d also been stranded overnight.
The good news is that the Frontier Airlines fight went. I landed at the tiny Trenton-Mercer airport, which I have never been to before, probably because the flight service is limited. I took an Uber to the PHL airport (about 45 minutes), grabbed my car, and drove home. After a good long nap, I’m finally ready to face the day…
*For those with older children, when did you start letting them stay home alone? How about looking after siblings?