Finding my stride in this season of life

To Do ListFor the past five years, the end of October is either when I’m dreaming up story ideas that I hope will last for an entire novel’s worth of scribblings, or panicking because I don’t have any ideas yet. This time around, I’ve got other things on the go and have made no commitment to the November mad dash of writing. I do think I might have more time for ficton writing, journaling and/or blogging soon, if I want it, but it’s come after some stressful times determining how to arrange my personal and family schedules.

Why am I hopeful now, rather than just accepting that being stressed out is my lot as both mother and part-time student? I can see a way through this! And Alex getting a cold has something to do with that.

Wait a sec. Alex being sick is helpful? In what universe is that possible?

This one. Hear me out a minute… When Alex gets a cold, we stay home more often and keep our germs to ourselves. He may try to imitate his brothers and me in many ways, but he’s still a “cough on everything” kid and is just learning about wiping his nose for himself (and then he doesn’t always dispose of the tissue, but carries it to someone else). So, it’s best for everyone if we just avoid other preschoolers, the elderly, anyone who doesn’t want to be a germ carrier like him, etc.

And I have enjoyed the week. Yep. Sure, the novelty will wear off, but I don’t feel cooped up as yet, plus I’ve had time to catch up and consider that a week like this more often would give me room to breathe in my schedule.

Cue springing into action, while planning less action… What if I didn’t fill up my schedule with so many weekly activities? What if some were every two weeks instead? Alternating a couple of them, perhaps, so I’m “running around town” less mornings or evenings per week?

And then I started thinking about how I do use my mornings at home. It’s no surprise to immediate family members when I declare that I’m a morning person, since they might remember that I used to be the one solving jigsaw puzzles or reading books before everyone else was awake. (Christmas was one exception where I had company in the early hours.) As an adult, I’ve learned that this means that my peak energy is in the morning. I should stack my schedule in such a way that the most important things get done then, not later when my energy (and probably motivation as well) is waning.

So why have I been cleaning house or running errands soon after Tim and Ben leave for school? What if the best use of my time were actually to dig into schoolwork soon after they left? This morning I took it one step further and used a free section of time to do the day’s Bible study while Tim and Ben were still home, done their school preparation and having a little playtime. That’s exactly the sort of activity I should be doing when I’ve got a few minutes to spare in the morning, not tidying up or thinking about loads of laundry. Those tasks are great, but they don’t make the best use of my brain at the time when it’s the most awake and ready to work! Let’s face it, housework is not rocket science and it can be done on autopilot some days. In fact, it’s a great break activity when my noodle is tired of adding information into it.

As I write this, I realise that there are also other ways I can arrange my evenings, and I should have thought of that a bit more before parking myself on the couch to blog… I can’t get everything right in one day, though, and there’s no school for the older kids tomorrow, so I can give myself a bit more time to iron out the details of this shift in scheduling.

And that’s probably my final point for this particular post. “Finding my stride” doesn’t have to mean getting everything in order overnight; it can be a process instead, where I learn what isn’t working and start to fix it, or suspect there’s a better way and I’d like to give it a go a step at a time. It’s a little like my experiments lately with using oats instead of wheat in my baking – it’s not perfect right away, but I’ll keep trying until I really like what’s happening!

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