Most of my runs are done solo. It’s just more convenient! But this past week I had companions for all of my “official” workouts.
My 15-year-old and I went to the gym together on Tuesday, where we both practiced running a 5k on the treadmill. Then we ran a 5k for real on Thursday morning (a local Turkey Trot). He did great – we finished, and our time was more than 2 minutes faster than he’d done on the treadmill. I think he had a good time and was interested in training a bit more for a spring 5k (so we could run the whole thing without stopping). I was very proud of him!
My husband and I went to the gym together on Friday (we had a sitter for the 2-year-old) where I mostly lifted weights, something I’d like to do more of (the weights and the joint gym visit). And then on Saturday morning I ran with Jane along our usual trail (5 miles or so). All of this was a nice change of pace. It was also a good week for effortful fun, but more on that below.
Anyway, here’s how I did on the nine Tranquility by Tuesday rules. These are my nine favorite time management strategies that I outline in my most recent book (haven’t picked up a copy? Please do! Or maybe give a copy to a friend for Christmas…? If you are giving it as a gift — and live in the US — and want me to sign a book plate and mail it to you, feel free to reach out at laura at lauravanderkam dot com.). When I follow these rules, life really does feel more calm amid all the chaos. And this time of year, there can be quite a bit of chaos! So, here’s the update:
Rule #1: Give yourself a bedtime. Reasonably. I was in my bed around 11 p.m. every night, and always before 11:30, which isn’t bad considering that we didn’t have to get up so early on four mornings this week. I’ve been looking back on my time logs from the last cycle of weeks where Monday was the same date (2016). I was up before 6 a.m. many mornings then with my now 7-year-old, and hence there was a lot of crashing by 10 p.m. It’s nice to know that things have improved, and that the reason I wake up at 6:30 a.m. on weekdays now is that…this is when my alarm goes off. More orderly sleep is possible! I love babies (obviously…given how many I had) but it is nice to have them grow up too.
Rule #2: Plan on Fridays. I started planning on Wednesday (the pretend Friday this past week with the Thanksgiving break) and updated the list on Friday. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to the activity plan until Sunday, and it took 45 minutes and still had to be updated as I realized stuff was wrong (e.g. one kid needs to be somewhere Wednesday night, not Thursday night, as I’d put on my calendar…). All this is to say, the planning thing is still a work in progress. I really would like to think through each week’s kid activity schedule prior to Sunday. Unfortunately, it can’t be on auto-pilot as there is always something different, especially during the holidays.
Rule #3: Move by 3 p.m. Perfect score. Often this was a short walk before 3 p.m. (some of my runs/workouts happened after 3 p.m.). On Sunday it was pouring when I realized at 2:20 p.m. that I needed to get my walk in but I put on my coat and grabbed an umbrella and went and I felt refreshed after. This is why the rule exists.
Rule #4: Three times a week is a habit. I ran three times this week, as described above. I played the piano a great many times (5 times/week) — helped by the book of Christmas carols, though also some hymn playing and working on a Haydn sonata. I do think I am improving after six months of making this a focus.
As for family meals — Thanksgiving helps with this! As did a lighter activity schedule. We had family dinner on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. We went to my brother’s house in New Jersey for Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday, so that was like an uber-family meal. We had “family lunch” minus the 2-year-old on Friday, which was kind of nice. He is cute but does add an element of chaos to meals. We could be a bit more calm with only older kids around the table. My husband and the two older boys went to College Station, Texas for the Texas A&M game Friday – Sunday, but we did all have family dinner together on Sunday night after they were back.
I’ve been pondering which things I want to aim for 3x a week in the new year. If you’re pondering New Year’s resolutions, that might be a practical way to structure a goal.
Rule #5: Create a back-up slot. Friday wound up serving that function just by virtue of having the time available for work!
Rule #6: One big adventure, one little adventure. Running a 5k with my kid was certainly an adventure, though I had a few more too. On Saturday night I took the three younger kids (those of us who didn’t go to Texas) to Tinseltown, which is a holiday light display in Oaks. The kids enjoyed running around through all the lighted displays, including a long light tunnel. The 11-year-old and 7-year-old got to go down the ice slide, though the 2-year-old was bitterly disappointed that he was too short. However, we recovered with a visit with Santa! This was the 2-year-old’s first time visiting Santa. He sat on his lap and told him he wanted an “Octopus shark robot.” He has repeated this several times now, so Santa’s got his work cut out for him… It was so sweet, and definitely memorable.
Then on Sunday the four of us went to the Brandywine Museum of Art to see the holiday train display. The 2-year-old was also excited about this (there was Thomas! And a tiny Santa flying in the sky!). We checked out the doll house and did a seek-and-find with lots of objects in there (including a butter churn and a roast pig). Then we went to Longwood Gardens and ran through another light tunnel and took in the Christmas trees and poinsettias. It was a brief visit, so maybe I’ll try to go back solo to see things at a more studied pace, but so it goes with little kids.
Rule #7: Take one night for you. I didn’t have choir rehearsal this week, but I did sing in the Sunday service. Also, the sitter for the 2-year-old meant I got some more time to myself, if less structured time. It was a real holiday treat. On the days with mild weather I sat in the hammock for a few minutes, so that was some me-time too.
Rule #8: Batch the little things. I did try to batch my online holiday shopping and I have gotten a lot of it done. I’ll triage the list over the next few weeks (I still need to do extended family presents, and supervise the kids’ sibling presents) but I’m feeling positive.
Rule #9: Effortful before effortless. This was a big win this week! I actually finished the 1000-piece holiday puzzle. I knew this one would be addictive partly because it was so doable — there were no large spaces of indistinguishable pieces. So I made time every day to work on it. I will probably buy another because it really is a fun way to spend some downtime!
I spent some time building the Lego Holiday Village with the 13-year-old and 11-year-old (we’re on bag 5 of 7…). We trimmed the tree. I baked Christmas cookies with the 11-year-old and 7-year-old. We attempted to decorate gingerbread houses, but the Oreo version I got at Costco didn’t really hold together. We also bought a pre-built one but the 2-year-old “helped” by putting the frosting bag right into his mouth, which kind of reduced other people’s interest in the project… Oh well. And I read some December magazines. Those tend to be my favorite of the year.
How did your week go?
Photo: Completed in 8 days.