This Saturday I faced an interesting time management question: What should I do with 5 (mostly) free hours?
The scenario was that my 3-year-old was with his Saturday sitter for the day (an arrangement we have partly to enable us to do things with the older kids — and drive them to activities without dragging the 3-year-old everywhere. They go out and about and to her house). My husband took the 8-year-old for his “Daddy Day.” They went biking at Blue Mountain in the Poconos and fishing at a stocked pond near there. There was also a Wawa stop, so good times! My 13-year-old is still off at camp. In the morning, I drove the 11-year-old and a friend of hers to another girl’s birthday party, and that turned out to be an all day affair (painting pottery, lunch, swimming — my kids really are living their best lives!). I drove my 16-year-old to his voice lesson from 11 a.m. to noon (well, 12:20, it ran over) and then brought him to Starbucks and ate lunch at home.
So then it was about 1:00. The 3-year-old would be back at 6:00, so until then, I only had an older teen around the house, and he was planning to work on his online physics assignments. I had five hours to do as I wished.
Now I will note that one side effect of having a lot of kids and a lot going on is that this felt like a rather weighty question. I was not sure I would get five free hours at my house with no little kids around again anytime soon. So I felt like I needed to spend it “well” — on something that would be rejuvenating. I ultimately decided it was best to spend this time on little around-the-house pleasures that are harder to do when other people are around.
So, first, I played the piano for about 45 minutes. Then I did my daily rituals (writing 2 lines in the sonnet; reading Jane Austen) for 15 minutes. I then drove to our local library (only about 5 minutes away) and browsed the stacks for a while, ultimately getting some fun design books and other reading.
I was home around 2:45 and I went to read on the little upstairs porch outside my bedroom. The weather was not too hot (low 80s, a little breezy) so this felt quite nice. I spent 45 minutes doing this. Then I decided to go do a quick run through my strength training exercises. After that, I pulled out my bicycle, and did a 20 minute ride up and down my street and driveway.
At this point it was around 4:20 p.m. and I decided to do a quick bit of chores — emptying the dishwasher (no magic fairies had appeared to do it…) and tidying up the kitchen. I only spent 10 minutes or so on this, though, and was trying to figure out what to do next when I saw that the new issue of Southern Living had come in the mail. So, it was back outside with my magazine to sit on the hammock for the next hour reading that. This is always a favorite summer activity, and the breezy, not-so-hot weather made it perfect.
(Well, except for the fact that I was nursing two bee stings from my morning run — I must have brushed up by a hive alongside the road because I soon had several bees swarming around me. I batted a few off but two got me…I guess nothing is ever pure bliss in our physical bodies…)
After that, it was a quick walk through the yard, then I played the piano for a few more minutes until the 3-year-old returned. Then it was full-on with him for three hours until he went to bed at 9! (The Daddy Day contingent returned around 8:30 p.m.).
Anyway, it was reasonably relaxing. I know eventually I’ll be at a point in life where five free hours doesn’t feel so rare that I need to be careful with it, but I’m not there yet. I’m curious what others would do with five weekend hours with no little kids in the house.