Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Someone... Please Send Four More Hours!

These days,
no matter
who you are
or where
you live,
I can bet
you could
use an extra
four hours
in your day.

I ponder this need often, because try as I might, it's hard to imagine that society has always lived within in a twenty four hour day. Because I live in the country, my life is more than likely much slower than the lives of most people. Within the last few years I have even given up having a vehicle at my disposal during the day to concentrate on being a mom to my two kids. The vehicle always meant running to the store and trying to get in errands that ate away at most of our day. And most of our day was already taken up with the business of living. My children are 3 1/2 and 11 months. I think age is relevant, because as a friend and I were recently discussing, it is difficult to compare life schedules when you have children who are of different ages. Different ages bring different tasks, and different levels of day to day involvement. I am at the stage now where my eldest is sleeping through the night, but my youngest is still getting up for at least one feeding between 1 am and 6 am. Couple that with the almost certainty that he will stir and wake up somewhere in those hours too, and you have a night of sleep that is far from satisfactory. Therefore, what should be my most productive time of day, nap time, sometimes finds me passed out right along with the children. But this doesn't happen enough times in a week to make up for lost sleep. In trying to be more productive I made a mental list of the goings on that happen in our household on a daily basis, only to be a bit discouraged when I found that I wasn't going to make up time by cutting in that arena. By the time breakfast is served, kitchen and play areas are cleaned from yesterday's doings, baths are given, lunch is served, naps are accomplished, and plans for dinner are made, evening is rolling around before I even knew the day had gone. If you work out of the home, your day is much the same only you are juggling work tasks plus taking the children to and from wherever they go during the day. Add to this list a mom's array of household chores such as laundry, cleaning bathrooms, floors, dusting, and the million other tasks that must be done, it's no wonder we feel a bit overwhelmed. If you are in charge of getting bills paid, the stress alone of that task probably makes it last on your list. In today's world of financial crisis, bill paying probably ought to be first on all of our lists. It is no surprise that tasks like yard work, washing cars and pets, and the necessary odd job like weatherproofing only happen when said task is about to create a huge problem if it doesn't get done that day. Somewhere in there, though, there has to be a few moments to do those things that keep us from losing our grip. Things like reading and writing, which I often do in the middle of the night during one of those wake-ups with my infant. Or cooking something special, which may happen during nap time. I hope gardening and yard work will come back into my life as the children get older. Right now I have to be content with stealing five minutes here and there for that sort of pleasure. If you are a man and work outside the home, your schedule problems are probably very similar only with very different components. I find humor in the fact that sometimes my husband will walk through the door with the look of "You have no idea what I have been through today" only to see the same look on my face. I can relate to his day because I worked outside the home for years and dealt with those stresses, but I am not entirely sure he can relate to mine. The single dad most certainly can. I think those men are extremely under-rated and even less appreciated. We all need more time to get just the necessary things accomplished in our lives. If we could figure out how to get more time, then we might just be able to get down to the real business of life which is spending quality time with our families. I don't know about you, but I spend an awful lot of time disciplining my toddler, especially since the birth of our second child. This experience has given me a glimpse into how difficult it must be for today's teachers to just teach. I keep coming back to this thought and it's taking on new importance. Could it be that in prior generations, children were expected to do more alongside their parents, even from an early age? This could be why so many people in prior generations remember having so much more family time than we do today. And were prior generations less concerned with teaching their infants everything possible prior to school? I am not sure that my three year old's ability to decipher colors, letters, and count will really give her a head start in class. What if she shows up at the first day of Kindergarten and feels no challenge whatsoever? Have we mixed up our roles as parents in some ways? Time is the ultimate deceiver and I realize that parents of yesteryear probably felt like they needed a 28 hour day too. I just can't help but think that through progress we have tripped ourselves up a bit.

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