So Much To Do, So Little Time

Whether you stay at home or work, your schedule is busy. How do you find time for yourself?

I had a huge to-do list this week. Every week I think it can’t get any busier, but this has been a crazy week. My husband was out of town and our oldest daughter was in DC on a school trip. This left me and our youngest daughter to take care of all the usual stuff and continue housebreaking our new puppy. All this while dealing with sleep deprivation…puppies are like babies, they don’t sleep through the night!

My to-do list is sometimes overwhelming, I have two teenage girls and my husband and I both work. Between the kids’ busy schedules of school activities, dance and sports, work and errands, I have days when I collapse into bed exhausted.

Not so long ago, I was a control freak; I would not ask for help and I found it hard to say no, which explains why at one point I was leader for both daughters' Girl Scout troops (and “cookie mom”) and a committee chair for our local Relay for Life. I was tired and seemed to catch every cold that passed by, and here’s my other big confession, I was cranky….a lot.

My life changed in an instant one day, I got sick and had to have major surgery. Recovery took months. I had to rely on other people to do just about everything for me–my kids had to clean the house and do laundry and my husband did the grocery shopping and drove the girls to all their activities. I had an epiphany; the world did not stop revolving just because I was not “doing it all.” I realized that for years when I had been creating my huge to-do lists, I had forgotten to put myself on that list. I made sure my girls got everything they needed and some, but never took time for myself and this was why I was cranky and sick a lot. I was not taking care of myself.

These days I make sure some “me-time” is on that list and there are days where I am at the top of that list! I took up tap-dancing and will not miss a class unless I’m sick. I go to my monthly book club meetings and I get together with friends regularly. I am a much better person these days; I am a lot healthier and not as tired and I feel my kids have a better mom. You really need to take care of the caregiver to be in a position to give the best care. The first thing I did when my husband came home today? I handed over the dog leash and went for a nap!

Abbie Walston May 02, 2011 at 12:09 PM
It's hard for me to find time for myself, since I have a one-year-old and I work full time. My cousin recently started monthly scrapbooking girls' night out, and it's great to visit with friends and work on our scrapbooks because I never have time for that at home! Plus my son always wants to "help" me and so I really can't scrapbook with him. I totally understand what you're saying about sleep deprivation! It seems like the only time I get to myself is when everyone's asleep, and even then I end up cleaning the house instead of having "me" time. I look forward to see what everyone else says!
David May 02, 2011 at 12:31 PM
I think the real issue is that we try to do too much. We need to decide if this voluntary chaos is really useful. And with all that is going on, you go out and get a puppy?
Michelle Petroccio May 02, 2011 at 01:28 PM
"Me time" is something all parents fall short on. I have four children ages 10 through 15 and they are in three different schools. They are active in sports, marching band and many other activities. Being able to get them where they need to be and be there on time is always a struggle and sometimes the schedules they demand overlap one another. I lose myself and never cater to my needs. I'm working, doing laundry, washing dishes, taking care of the pets and making appointments all of the time. My husband works 24/7, and he's exhausted as well, but we always find the time for the kids and not ourselves. Everybody and everything else always seem to be higher priorities. This week, with Mother's Day approaching, I plan on making an appointment to get my nails done and have a pedicure as well. I'd like to plan just kicking back with my husband on Sunday, take a long ride up the coast, and stop somewhere quiet to have a light meal. I'm going to make time to start sitting down with a good book again for at least one hour each day, because I truly miss my love of reading, and I need to delegate more responsibilty to my kids and explain why they need to help out out of respect and appreciation for what mom and dad do for them. They need to help with the pets, yard work and little things around home without expecting something in return because that's what kids should do. I think I''ll write them each a note, and just sign it, "thank you in advance, mom".
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Anna-Maria Lee May 03, 2011 at 01:46 PM
It is definitely a struggle to balance everything. At the beginning of the year it came to a head for me. I was really feeling weighed down with the everyday stresses that come with work and family, and feeling as though I didn't have much of an outlet. Myself and some of my girlfriends began a group where we meet up once a month to do something fun. Each month someone different decides on our activity and also something we can do to 'give back'. Whether we are collecting clothes and toiletries for the homeless, Easter baskets for the Smilow Center or walking for the March of Dimes, we are having a blast in addition to setting an example for our kids. It's not all about the charity work though. We are building bonds with each other and creating a strong support system. And we are all trying to out-do each other for fun places to go! Let's face it, as much as we try to simplify our lives, they can get crazy. Whatever it is that gives you a break from the hectic-ness, make the time to do it. Even once a month. On a smaller scale, I'm in the car a lot, so I try to use that time to chill a little. I listen to MY music, no kids CD's! I set aside a least 1/2 hr of my sons nap time to relax, usually watching a DVR'd show or 2. I make a weekly dinner menu, so I only have to grocery shop once. I also make sure my kids are in bed by 8pm, so I have a couple of hours to relax before bed.
Nikki McIntyre May 03, 2011 at 03:50 PM
I can relate, i'm not a "control freak" but i do like to have my house decent. I have three kids, a 12 yr old son, 4 yr old daughter, and a 6 week old daughter. I don't have time for myself, because i am always running around doing things or involved in my kids activities. I am a stay home mom and find it difficult to try to get things done, also i need to mention that i am deaf, so i'm constantly stopping things to check on my kids because i can't just call out and ask if my kids are ok,and i don't take naps, i'll never hear my daughter crying. So i applaude all the working moms. My husband works for a private school and takes up a lot of his time, but he's home everyday and he sits and watches tv. So i feel like i have the burden of taking care of my kids, my two dogs, the house, and of course my husband (who is like a big kid), I try to get together with my friends on Sunday mornings, while my husband plays soccer. It gets me out of the house and out of the daily "grind" that i do everyday. Unfortunately i do have to bring my kids with me, but my friends have kids too, so their kids either "watch" or play with my kids so i do get a bit of a break knowing i don't have to entertain my kids for a while. The schedule is crazy with my kids that i have one going to bed at 10, another at 830, and my baby whenever she goes to sleep, i go to bed then, i don't really have a "me time". Its hard, exhausting, and frustrating.
Abbie Walston May 03, 2011 at 04:18 PM
Go easy on yourself Nikki! A 6 week old it teeny tiny. I only have one child, but I can't imagine how difficult is must be to have 3. Can you nicely ask your husband to be more helpful?
Doreen Currie May 03, 2011 at 06:31 PM
You need to ask for help....this was a hard thing for me to do, asking for help is like admitting I can't do it all. Well, guess what, no-one can do it all and they don't hand out medals for those who even try to! Try letting your husband know that you need a chunk of time to go do something...whether it's weekly or daily. Treat it like it's an appointment, you would not skip seeing your doctor, so you need to make yourself a priority. I love going to the library, it's quiet and I can read a magazine or browse on the computer...our library has a coffee machine too!
Michelle Petroccio May 04, 2011 at 08:46 PM
I don't hesitate to ask for help, and I do try and delegate, but this sometimes falls on "deaf ears", no pun intended here. The kids are just at the ages where selective hearing or tuning mom out is a daily thing. That's my fault, I made it that way beacuse from the time they were born, I always did every little thing for them, including laying out socks and underwear when they became old enoughto dress themselves. I guess they are at the point where they believe if we ignore her long enough, she'll do it herself after she stops screaming at us. Now that they are older, they can be helping, but it's hard for me to expect a change in what I have created as a road block to achieving this. Lately they get an ultimatum, "if you don't do this, you can't do that!" there are days when it works and days when they go past me and ask "daddy" comes into play.
Krista Surprenant May 05, 2011 at 01:42 AM
It is definitely hard! I have loved being home right now as a stay at home with our two boys, and am dreading going back to work. But even being stay at home right now, I am in grad school, and do extra work for my district in curriculum development. I do delegate to my husband certain things when I am working mostly, and have started telling him when I need help. I have also had to make peace that my house will not be as organized as it once was. As I keep telling myself, it is okay if the house gets messy (but I do try to keep it clean as far as dirt and such). I do not run around cleaning all day, we have two clean up times- right before the 1pm nap and right before 7pm bedtime. (At least the bedtime clean up always happens.) I make a list in my head the morning or night before to plan out what I want to do. I go over it with my 2 year old constantly reminding him and myself what we will be doing, when and in what order it will happen. I think it is good for both us!
Krista Surprenant May 05, 2011 at 01:44 AM
ps- nikki! I am so glad that you came today to baby and me! I found the library times a life saver when it comes to no pressure outings for the kids and myself and a time to socialize with other moms! I hope you keep coming!
Roberta Schwartz May 05, 2011 at 03:53 PM
I live by my date book (blackberry, smart phone what ever). I find that if I put my me time into my date book it's official. For example I will put read for 1/2 hour on Tuesday at 4:30 or what ever me time activity I want to do. When I see it in my date book, just like every other "official" appointment it carries the same weight so I don't feel guilty when I take the time. Just sayin!
Michelle Petroccio May 05, 2011 at 04:05 PM
I like that idea Roberta. I used to take the time to read at Dunkin Donuts after I dropped the kids at school. I would get my hot chocolate and my bagel and just sit in the car all by myself. I would also turn off my cell phone. Lately, I've had issues with my car, and haven't been able to enjoy that time. It will be back on the road in a few days, and I am going back to my little half hour to 45 minutes of "me time". I'll take that away from my job, where I work at home, and enjoy it. Then I'll spend a half an hour less on a chore that I can delegate to the kids when they come infrom school.
Abbie Walston May 05, 2011 at 04:13 PM
Sorry for those of you who might think this is TMI, but I used to love reading while expressing milk at work. I actually looked forward to getting back to my book during my break, instead of dreading pumping. Now that my son's over a year old, I don't pump anymore but I do miss all the time I used to be able to read!


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