The march toward Christmas continues around here. Last week was a very full week, with stuff every night more or less. However, it seems slightly less intense than 2016 (which I have been looking at, since that’s the last time that December 5 was also a Monday, so it matches my time log cycle). That week I went to Boston and gave three talks. I went to my husband’s holiday party and then flew to Mexico to give a speech. I think I had forgotten that the Boston and Mexico trips were back to back. The time log reminded me!
Anyway, I was at the holiday party again this past week. Possibly wearing the same dress. Hard to know. The party snuck up on me and I never managed to find anything new to wear. So that is a constant, though something new from 2016 is how much holiday music my family is producing. I wasn’t in choir back then; this year my choir did our Messiah sing-along this week. And I got to see my two older kids’ concerts. My 13-year-old played with his middle school jazz band and my 15-year-old sang with his high school’s select vocal ensemble. Both performances were very good, which made for proud mama moments.
Here’s how I did on the Tranquility by Tuesday rules this week. (New here? Each week I post a TBT Scorecard evaluating how I did on the nine time management rules that comprise my most recent book. If you haven’t picked up a copy yet, please do! I promise that other people have found it helpful!).
Rule #1: Give yourself a bedtime. Mostly. On Friday night (early Saturday morning) I was up until 12:30 a.m. because we had somehow missed most of the food at the party, and then it disappeared, so we ate a very late dinner at home. Sunday night I missed my bedtime because I was cleaning my iPhone, trying to get it to stop popping up to the top of the screen after I scroll down. Some online resources suggested cleaning it as a potential solution. While it was satisfying to pull off the cover and clean everything, this didn’t really help. I welcome other ideas. It is 4 years old at this point, and so while I’m annoyed by this fact, I also recognize that might be the end of the product’s life too.
Rule #2: Plan on Fridays. I planned my workweek on Friday, and have a tentative plan for next weekend. However, I didn’t start planning the kids’ activity schedule until the weekend. It just felt overwhelming; there are still a lot of one-offs right now.
Rule #3: Move by 3 p.m. Mostly. Two of my by-mid-day walks involved walking the dog — not usually my responsibility but my husband was traveling. I didn’t run or walk Saturday early in the day. I was planning to go to the gym in the afternoon, putting the toddler in the play room, but then he was taking a good nap and I didn’t want to wake him. I did get my 10,000 steps by going to the Zoo’s Luminature exhibit at night. I finally made it to the gym (our local Y) early on Sunday morning. I decided to get up at 6:30 a.m. and was in the car by 6:45 to be there when it opened at 7. I lifted weights — something I am trying to do more often — for 35 minutes, got back in the car, and made it home on time to make the rest of the day work. This is not something I’ve done before but it was definitely doable. So maybe I will do it again. If I can observe my bedtime!
Rule #4: Three times a week is a habit. I ran three times, for about 30 minutes each time. I’d like it to be more, but at least that fit into the week. I played the piano three times as well — again, not as long as I would like, but I did it. That is the point of this rule. Something is almost always better than nothing.
As for family meals, we had my birthday dinner on Monday. I came back around 6:30 p.m., and the house was dark. But then I opened the door and everyone jumped out and yelled surprise. So that was fun. The steak was good (my husband cooked it on the grill). We ate family dinner together on Saturday and Sunday as well, although the Sunday one involved approximately 5 minutes of all of us at the table as my husband and 15-year-old were racing out to a 7 p.m. tennis lesson.
Rule #5: Create a back-up slot. I left Friday open to 2:40 p.m. I wound up with an unscheduled Tuesday as well, which is something of a perk of my work situation. If I can see that a day doesn’t have anything in it about a week prior, I then do my best to not put anything in it (nudging meetings/calls to other days). I have been needing the time to get caught up on stuff. And send Christmas cards…
Rule #6: One big adventure, one little adventure. It is a festive time of year, and there were lots of adventures (some from my 2022 Holiday Fun List). Of note: I met two friends for drinks at a local brewery on Monday to celebrate my birthday. I don’t normally do Monday happy hours, so that was a little adventure! I also took myself to Longwood Gardens on Tuesday early evening. I had gone with the little kids over Thanksgiving, and it was fine, but hard to pause and take anything in. The lights were beautiful of course though the weather didn’t exactly cooperate. So it was a wet visit, and then my GPS took me on a more rustic route home than anticipated and…that was unintentionally adventurous in the dark cold rain.
We did a family adventure to the Luminature exhibit at the Philadelphia Zoo on Saturday night. It was fun to see all the bright lights and displays — including some realistic projections of savannah animals on the rocks. I also enjoyed the “underwater” exhibit with lights that looked like coral reefs and jellyfish. There was a fair amount of bickering, but this is probably one of the few holiday things that everyone could do. So it will likely make the list again next year.
Rule #7: Take one night for you. I missed Thursday night choir practice this week because I went to see my 15-year-old’s choir concert. However, I had a Saturday morning rehearsal for the Messiah, and then we sang (most of) it on Sunday afternoon. So there was a lot of singing time minus my family. The Messiah sing-along was a fun experience. We joined forces with another choir, and then invited the audience to sing along with some of the best-known choruses (we skipped a few so the performance was 2 hours instead of 3). The soloists (who are the professional singers hired to help my church choir) were having all sorts of fun trilling around on Handel’s recitatives and arias. Plus there was a harpsichord!
Rule #8: Batch the little things. I posted on Friday about my batching experiences.
Rule #9: Effortful before effortless. I did about an hour of Legos with the 13-year-old and 11-year-old on Saturday while the little guy napped. I worked on my 1000-piece puzzle almost every day and, as one might imagine, it is closing in on being done. (This is my second Christmas-themed 1000 piece puzzle. I finished the other one a little over a week ago). And I am reading The Tempest currently in my Shakespeare project. The cause of spending less time on my phone is being helped by its annoying habit of popping back up to the top. It’s almost impossible to scroll!
Photo: Lillies at Longwood