Where Does the Time Go? — Abby Off the Record

Where Does the Time Go?

by Abby on September 14, 2011

Yellow ClockWhen my firstborn started preschool, I remember fantasizing about all the things I’d do with my newfound time and freedom. Then reality set in: factoring in drop-off and pick-up, all my free time amounted to roughly 2 hours, 2 mornings a week. As a fellow mom complained, barely enough time to buy and put away your groceries. I usually frittered the hours away on e-mail and errands.

Now my baby’s started kindergarten and is gone till 2:45pm. An eternity! Of course, I still have my little guy at home with me much of that time, but still – all that time! I could write an entire novel in a week! I could cook 5-course meals nightly! If I had even the slightest interest in writing a novel or cooking a 5-course meal, that is. Which I do not.

But when you’re used to cramming everything into tiny pockets of time here and there, a funny thing happens when you have a large block of time all at once: at first you don’t know what to do with yourself. Yet you mysteriously manage to fill the time without even noticing. Kyran Pittman offers the perfect analogy in her memoir, Planting Dandelions: Field Notes From a Semi-Domesticated Life. (Which I LOVED, BTW. Go read it immediately!) She writes:

“[My 3 boys] each graduated from a couple of days a week to half-days all week, then full days at school all week, and my work, like the contents of my purse, has tended to expand to fill all available pockets of space.”

Exactly. Only in my case, it’s not just work. Typical morning: I sit down at my desk, do some work on my writing class, revise an essay, check e-mail. Then I remember I need to RSVP to a bridal shower invitation. That reminds me I need to buy a gift, so I go online, find the bride’s registry, then get caught up in the clearance section of Bed Bath & Beyond and go off to Google free shipping codes. Then I remember that my children need something to wear to the wedding, which sets me off on another Google tangent.

It’s not that I’m procrastinating, exactly, or wasting time on unnecessary things – after all, my sons DO need new clothes unless the happy couple wants Cars T-shirts and Crocs immortalized in their wedding album. But it’s not exactly how I thought I would spend my time, either.

When, as a new mom, I got a sitter a few afternoons a week so I could write, I recall thinking that on a day when I’d turned in all my work, caught up on my invoices, and had a free moment, I would treat myself to some shopping or lunch with a friend. Only that day never came. There’s ALWAYS more to be done, there’s ALWAYS something else on the list.

So I’m not worried about how I’ll spend my time while my kids are away at school. Though I am a little worried about whether that size 4T sport coat will fit.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Kathleen Basi September 14, 2011 at 9:37 am

I’ve had the same experience…but also, I’ve found that the changing schedules knock my routines all to pieces. Last year my daughter went to preschool in the mornings and napped, along with her brother, in the afternoons. Put a movie on for the toddler int he a.m., and poof! TWO major work sessions in a day!

All summer I longed for the return of the schoolyear. Except now that it’s here, my daughter’s been moved to afternoons, which means instead of two work sessions, I have one. So it’s actually a net LOSS. Yuck.

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Abby September 15, 2011 at 2:27 pm

Yes! When they give up or change naptime that throws a wrench into everything.

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Malia Jacobson September 14, 2011 at 1:47 pm

SO right there with you. When I’m with my kids, which is most of the time, it’s go-go-go and I barely have time to formulate a coherent thought. So when I finally sit down at the computer I don’t always feel like being mega-productive. I don’t “waste time” on the Internet (much, anyway) but there are just so many things that need doing: sign kids up for gymnastics, research new spill-proof lunch container on Amazon, browse themes for birthday party invitations, RSVP for a playdate. Read and comment on blogs. LOL. Guess I should get back to work. :)

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Shannon @ AnchorMommy September 14, 2011 at 3:44 pm

Exactly! There’s always something to fill the time. I’m dealing with the realization that since my baby is napping in the afternoons now, I don’t get that luxurious block of free time three mornings a week like I did during the last preschool year. So my boy’s currently watching some Curious George while she sleeps. Oh well.

And you just reminded me! I have to check the size of my 4 year old’s winter coat! I may be going on online shopping tangent of my own in just a bit…

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Abby September 15, 2011 at 2:28 pm

A little Curious George never killed anyone. ;)

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Shannon @ AnchorMommy September 14, 2011 at 3:45 pm

On AN online shopping tangent. Forgot a word there, dangit.

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D Bianchi September 15, 2011 at 7:11 am

You are SO right! Always something to fill in the time, always feeling like needing more time – never enough.

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Lou Mello September 15, 2011 at 8:04 am

Well…just the fact that I am here a day late tells you something about my “time pockets”. Since I work full time, do a bunch of Rotary stuff interspersed with the office stuff, I very rarely have any of those “what shall I do with all my time” moments.

I do try to carve a little time out in the evening or on weekends to try to catch up with a little reading, some blogs, emails, etc. Usually wind up doing a little bit and then a cat nap…or two, and Boom! the day/evening is gone.

I don’t know how you Moms do it, we have no kids at home and it’s just the lovely Miss TK and I and we still don’t have time to do stuff. Hats off to all you amazing Moms.

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