Last week was an intense week. The kids all started school and I traveled to Portland (Maine) for work, plus Labor Day made it a short week. There are no typical weeks, though, and one of the reasons I developed the nine Tranquility by Tuesday rules (subject of my next book) is that they can help when life is plodding and when it is barreling along.
So how did I do on the nine rules last week?
Rule #1: Give yourself a bedtime. This past week was a reminder of how sleep debts can accumulate, and how we have to pay them back. On Monday (Labor Day) my entire household didn’t wake up until well after 8. This seems utterly improbable, and yet it happened. The result was that I just wasn’t tired at 11 p.m. on Monday night (neither, alas, were some of my kids who had to be up early for the first day of school — plus they were anxious and excited). I didn’t fall asleep until 1:15 a.m., which felt a bit bracing at 6:30 a.m.
I did get my 7-8 hours in my hotel room in Portland Tuesday night and Wednesday night, but then there was Thursday. Knowing I needed to be up at 3:45 a.m. for my 6:00 a.m. Friday flight, I had trouble drifting off. I think I finally succeeded a little after midnight, meaning I got 3.5 hours of sleep. And so I’ve been paying that debt off this weekend. Hopefully this week should be better!
Rule #2: Plan on Fridays. So…about that 6 a.m. flight. We wound up sitting on the tarmac for three hours. That means I got to my desk at 11:00 a.m. instead of 8:00 a.m. on Friday. I had a handful of things that had to be done by end-of-day (plus some podcast interviews) and so my Friday planning needed to happen in bits here and there. But I still did it. This upcoming week is not going to be easy; taking just 20 minutes to plan means I have a better sense of what is going on. I’ve thought about long term things that need to happen (like getting two of the kids’ passports renewed) and that I want to have happen (like choosing a day to try to see the bird migrations). All of that would fall through the cracks if I didn’t have a time I sat down to ponder these things.
Rule #3: Move by 3 p.m. After last Sunday’s 10-mile long run I didn’t run all week. I did go for a few walks, including a 7 a.m. one around Portland on Wednesday morning before meetings. But overall this was not a banner week for exercise.
Rule #4: Three times a week is a habit. I did not run three times (see above). But I did play the piano three times, thanks to realizing, as I was writing a draft of this post Sunday afternoon, that I had played twice. So, I went for one more round of it. That is the upside of this rule. Hitting three times a week is often very doable and since it is doable, I went ahead and did it. And now I feel like, yep, I’m someone who plays the piano regularly.
We had family dinner on Monday night, Friday night, and Sunday night. The Friday night one was a reminder of why we try. It was make-your-own-pizza night so the kids were mostly happy and we all lingered around the table and discussed the first week of school. (The toddler went off to do other things but oh well). I’m hoping that as time goes on more dinners will be conversational vs. chaotic.
(Another reason for this rule — I was gone multiple nights for work, plus my husband and I were trading off our activities on Saturday, but I still feel like we’re the kind of family that eats together. Because we are! It doesn’t happen every night but it doesn’t have to.)
Rule #5: Create a back-up slot. Maybe? Almost every minute was spoken for, Tuesday to Friday. However, now that I think of it, I did leave Friday morning open because I was flying early and I felt like the probability that something could go wrong was high. And sure enough, it did. I did some work, but we kept thinking we might take off, so I couldn’t easily get my laptop out and get going. Plus I hadn’t downloaded a document I needed to edit and I couldn’t get online so…I mostly read. It was fine — flight delays while solo are annoying but not horrific (I so felt for the lady with a toddler up in front of me). Good thing I didn’t have stuff booked that would have gotten trampled in the process.
Rule #6: One big adventure, one little adventure. Oh, where to start. Getting the kids to their new schools was an adventure. Going to Portland for three days was an adventure — seeing that cool little town on the water as the first nip of fall chill lingered in the air. I took some kids to the farmers market on Saturday morning, which was a little adventure*, as was taking my 2-year-old to his swim class (not really a good adventure though — he screamed the whole time. Afterwards, he said he had fun. Really???)
Then, on Saturday night, I went to see Jen Fulwiler’s stand-up comedy show! She performed at the Ardmore Music Hall. I went solo (my husband was with the kids…plus it was a very, very female audience) and it was open seating, which could have been intimidating, but I bumped into someone I know, and she had a free seat next to her, and I wound up talking to a nice couple sitting next to me as well. The show was funny; it’s good to laugh. Then, I emerged to a dozen fire trucks outside and the road blocked off. It seemed everyone was OK, just a small kitchen fire, but wow.
Rule #7: Take one night for you. Choir starts up this week, so I sang in the Sunday service, but missed rehearsal while I was in Portland. That said, going to a comedy show solo counts here. And possibly much of the Portland trip too!
Rule #8: Batch the little things. Maybe. I had about 20 minutes on Friday to fly through a punch list of stuff. I probably need a bigger batch window this week to get on top of things. However, on Sunday I did batch some chores while my husband had the toddler. I figured if I gave myself an hour I’d do the most important stuff and do it efficiently.
Rule #9: Effortful before effortless. There was some scrolling but I did read a book on the plane to and from Portland (nothing edifying…sometimes I read books on decluttering as some people might watch junk TV). And I finished reading Coriolanus in my Shakespeare project. Now on to All’s Well That End’s Well. That title sounds like the kind of phrase I say a lot…
*There was a community day going on simultaneously with the farmers market, and a lot of local institutions had booths. We said hello to some folks, grabbed free toothbrushes and lollipops, etc. Then my 2-year-old dropped his lollipop on the way out and started screaming so I quickly looked around for the nearest booth offering lollipops. I ran over to one to grab one and they gave me their brochure – which turned out to be for youth ice skating lessons and…look who now has a kid signed up. I guess that’s why they give away the lollipops!