A question I get asked weekly if not more often is “How do you find the time. . .?” End this question with “for couponing”, “blogging”, “working”, “teaching coupon classes”, etc. I think the question really is about making everything work—and not going crazy!
I was talking about this question with the husband the other day because I had been asked it again. I gave a vague answer and then probed only to find out that the person asking commuted 90 minutes to and from work every day. An “ah ha” moment followed when they realized that they were dedicating the same about of time driving that I use for writing and other “paperwork” each morning.
Just to give some context, in addition to being a mom and a wife, I work full time—50+ hours a week in a position I love on most days and like on the rest. I teach coupon classes once a week, sometimes twice. I’m also serve on three community boards and volunteer for each of them. This is in addition to being involved with the boy’s activities, household chores, maintaining a blog and two Facebook pages, and spending time relaxing and having fun. I will also confess that I enjoy the 7-9 hours of sleep I get each night with my best sleeping hours being 9 pm to 5 am. The boy hits the sack around 8:30 and I am not far behind! The morning hours are very productive for me—no alarm clock needed, even on the weekends!
So, how do I do it? How do I “find” the time? Well, it isn’t about finding time as everyone has the same amount of time in a day, it is about using or spending time in ways that have been determined a priority. Also. . .
- The husband and I are on the same team when it comes to parenting and household chores. We made it very clear early in our relationship that we would not have stereotypical gender roles around the house. We both do laundry, he cooks dinner on most days while I do the grocery shopping, he makes the beds, I iron, I load the dishwasher and he unloads. There is an equitable distribution of household responsibilities based on time, skill, and availability. If I have more time in the evening, I make the boy’s lunch for the next day and if he has more time, he does it. I am more likely to be seen with a hammer in my hand, but he handles the lawn mowing and snow removal. And, we renegotiate if things aren’t working smoothly, schedules change either temporarily or for long stretches of time, or if another priority is decided—such as 6 weeks of rehearsals for an upcoming show.
- Routines! Routines are huge time savers and sanity savers. We have morning routines for work and school, after school routines that involve homework and trombone practice, and bedtime routines. These routines seldom vary and can be sped up or slowed down depending on the amount of time available. And, we keep the same routines year-round, including bedtime. (I just read an on-line news article about the importance of keeping the same bedtime for kiddos during the summer—and I agree!)
- Systems—that get used most of the time. (The husband is the biggest culprit for not using systems.) By systems I mean ways of handling things, such as car keys, cell phones, coats, backpacks, purses, etc. There’s a basket hanging on a doorknob near the garage door for keys and sunglasses as one example of a system. Mail goes in a certain spot, as does the boy’s instrument. The systems are supposed to save time when gathering items—I say “supposed” to because sometimes they don’t! Again, the husband could tell you more about when the systems break down. When systems are in place, to gather shoes for example, it also means less clutter, less nagging, less time gathering items, and more harmony!
- Tools—We live in an age where there are time saving tools all over the place. And, we have invested in some of those tools. One is the DVR. We enjoy watching television but with a DVR we can record the shows we want and watch them at our leisure by-passing commercials. A 30 minute show then takes about 18 minutes to watch.
- Multi-tasking—You don’t want to know how many “windows” are open on the computer as I type or that my cell phone is next to the computer “working” on something else. With focus, I am able to accomplish multiple tasks simultaneously, but only for short periods of time. My favorite mulit-task is walking our dog with the husband in the evening—exercise, fresh air, and connecting at the end of the day. Sometimes the boy joins us.
Along the way, I have also stopped worrying about the stack of papers on the counter—they will be dealt with in time—and other small things. Each of us has different priorities of how we want to use our time. My only advice is to spend your time as carefully as you spend your money—it is just as valuable if not more so.