Sunday, January 16, 2011

Balance, Taking Baby Steps

So, how did the first week's balancing act go?

Let me just say, hmmmm.

I had sick kids and a sick me for part of this week.  I only exercised twice, only up at 5 AM twice.  I was in bed around 9 PM every night but one, and that night I couldn't get in bed on time because, when I went into my room at bedtime, I realized I'd never remade the bed from washing the sheets from Evie throwing up all over me that morning.  Otherwise, bedtime was good.  And, because I'd been so strict about bedtime, I truly believe that's why I didn't get as sick as all the kids--my body was rested and able to fight!

I also discovered that I am very obsessive about which pens I use in my planner--they must be Pilot EasyTouch fine red and blue ball point pens.  I thought I'd left them somewhere one day, and I was quite distraught.  Stupid, I know. But they write so well!

Another learning moment:  I've done laundry on Monday for as long as I can remember.  I never realized, until this week and my careful scheduling, that I never set aside time to actually FOLD the laundry.  That will be rectified this week.

Let's get to the real meat of this challenge--changing myself.  What did I REALLY learn:

You are all very interesting, and the pull of the computer and the details of your lives was tempting.  Only one day did I spend too much time blogging.  And when I did, I noticed the rest of my life slip a little as well.  The challenge for me is when I'm stuck at the computer preparing for my class, and you are all just a click away!  I'll try to do better with that.

I carefully logged, down to the minute, how much time I spent on my lesson--I had no late nights, no emergency issues, and I was finished before dinner on Wednesday.  I spent a total of 8.6 hours on it this week.  That's about 15 hours less than I have been spending.  Did my class suffer?  I don't think so.  But the real test will be in two weeks.  What I eliminated from my study time was reading and analyzing the material a few weeks ahead.  Jury's still out.  I'm still ahead for this week and most of next . . . then the stress and the scary.

But the big eye-opener was this.  I've discovered a flaw in my character that has always been buried deep under the busyness.  And I hate to admit it aloud.

I'm very selfish with my time.  And I guess that makes me selfish.

I don't like interruptions.  I don't like changes to the schedule.  I don't take time to talk on the phone often or just sit and do nothing from a schedule--seems like such a waste of time.  (In full disclosure, Brad and I watched two football games yesterday, and I couldn't stand to just sit there, so I organized the junk drawer and a few other drawers in the kitchen desk while we watched.  Once a multi-tasker, always a multi-tasker.)

Because this is my attitude, my relationships with people suffer.  I was able to work in almost everything I needed to do, even a few things I wanted to do.  But rarely was I doing what other people needed or wanted.  I lost my patience with Lily when she asked me to help her study for her big states/capitals test.  Why?  Because helping her would make me late for MY bedtime.  I did help her, reluctantly.  And as I went to bed that night, I recognized my mistake.  So, the next morning, even though I wasn't up early, I snuck into her backpack and left her a note on her binder, wishing her good luck.  I know a lot of you do this routinely, even daily. It was a biggie for me.

When I was preparing my schedule Thursday night, I couldn't think of anything I needed to do Friday afternoon.  And then it hit me--I don't balance in time to just "be" with my kids.  I schedule time to work and to feed and to teach, but never to do fun things--not without a tight schedule to adhere to, anyway.  So, I left Friday afternoon from  1:30 to 5:15 wide open, nothing scheduled.  What happened?  First and foremost, the world did NOT come crashing down.  Second, I plopped the two little kids in the bike trailer and Micah and I went on a bike ride--just for fun.  We saw the ducks in the canal, stopped and visited a few friends.  And then, when we got back, Brad and I took the two little kids on a wagon ride and talked.

And the biggest eye-opener of the week:

When Brad and I went to bed last night, Brad turned to me and said, "I want to thank you for something.  Today was the first time in as long as I can remember when you have actually done something just for me.  You do things for the kids and your class and stuff all the time, but rarely do you do little things just for me.  Thanks."

Ouch.  That right there was Steven Covey coming to bite me.  Am I busy?  Yes, always.  Am I efficient?  Yep, I still get almost everything in that I want to do.  Have I been effective?  Nope, I've been missing the boat.  That hurts.

So this week, the idea is this:

Still go to bed early and get up early.  Still exercise.  Still limit blogging and lesson preparation. Still budget and prioritize and schedule my time.  But the goal is to find time daily to do something effective for someone else.  Something that I might not necessarily want to do, but things I  need to do. Something that doesn't necessarily fit into my tightly budgeted, tightly scheduled life.

Time to participate in the lives of these people that I love, not just be present.

And here are a few real balancing baby steps. Finally.



  1. Gee...we are so alike! I have many of the same issues...even down to the pen obsession...ha! Time management IS hard...I balance btw work/home/grandchildren/elderly in-laws...never enough time and I give up organizations, meetings etc. Hard to balance....sounds like you are REALLY amazing!!! Glad you all feel better and the video is darling!

  2. Evie is walking! That is too cute! Pretty soon you'll have another pair of little feet running around the house :)

    It's amazing how your eye-opening experiences became eye-opening to me too. Just like you, I tend to be selfish with my time. Reading all the different things you learned about yourself this week made me realize that I'm quite similar with how I interact with the people around me. That's why I'm going to make an effort to spend time with the people I love and to participate and not just be present.

    For your first week of balancing, you're doing a pretty great job :) Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. It was good to see you, today! I keep getting stuck at the planning part... and then analyzing the planning... woah! Too much for ME to handle, although it really needs to be done. After the guests and the fun of January, will come the new plans and ideas for February. You are inspiring!

  4. love that cute video of Evie - big milestone!

    As for the action plan - wow! not only have you put it in motion, but you're already finding that areas that need help and making the necessary tweaks to address it - in just one week?! Can't wait to see how week 2 goes ... nice job, jen!!

  5. This sounds a lot like my life too. I get frustrated often when people want to interrupt into my schedule. I've learned to say no to somethings, but not all. Balance is tough. One thing I have gotten better at is talking with my children. They will both be adults soon, I don't want to miss the end of there teen years being too busy with work and RS. So I guess balance is begining to happen.

  6. Great post friend. I think that we are ALL a bit selfish with our time, and if not all of us, then I definitely am. Certainly something I need to work on is being more IN my kids lives too.

    YAY for Evie walking. She looks darling.

  7. That little Evie is waaay too cute.

    I loved reading about your balancing act. I tend to swing a little too much the other way...not enough organization and too much people time.

    Maybe we can both meet somewhere in the middle and become totally zen.


  8. I'm more like Sue also. I need to stay more focused on tasks and maybe a little less on people.

    Thanks for the pen tips. I will go on a hunt for them today.

  9. I think you and I should mash heads a little and share with the other our talents. I'm great with people, not so much the scheduling and organizing.

    Something I found to be helpful in showing my family I love them is to do 1 nice thing for them everyday. I even think of ideas ahead of time and do it when the opportunity presents itself.

  10. well you learned lots. and you get an A+ for your bedtimes this past week! hurrah!
    mine on the other hand, didn't work out AS well as i'd hoped. bedtime got socked in the kisser multiple times last week, complete with two 100% sleepless nights making sure mini-me had stuff she needed, including all the 8th grade parent stuff. oy! i'll be glad when this week's spaghetti feed is over. on top of it, one of my old co-workers' father passed away this morning from leukemia, so i'll be filling in for her at the office this week. so the stress for the week just amped up. so, we'll see how i survive. anyhow, good luck with your goals. and as for the laundry thing, i am great about starting laundry, but its hard to be sure to have the additional time for FOLDING here as well!
    k, gotta scoot.

  11. It sounds like your week was a success. Not because you accomplished everything, but because you recognized the good things that you are doing. They are all good, even the ouch ones.

  12. Wahoo Evie!!

    Monday has been laundry for as long as we have been friends! I fold right out of the dryer - time it - 7 minutes that's it, that is all it takes to fold most loads of laundry. This saves me so much time and effort and wrinkled clothes.

    Love your ideas...hmmm I am sure I could improve in the effective area.

    My fav pen too, but i want mine in black!