One down, 364 more to go. Well, I guess it's 363, but today was my first self-recognized day of the new year. We were driving all day yesterday and I can hardly count a day in the car as an opportunity to start a fresh year. In all honesty, I really expected more of myself today, but it was a day spent digging out of the mess left behind from Christmas and travel (in addition to any and all typical mothering duties that might ever be expected of me).
I, like many others, had set several lofty goals for myself this year. I had to, of course, given how much I love setting goals. But maybe I shouldn't have expected to get to them the first day back from vacation. My goals consist of treating my body better by eating healthier, going to bed on time and exercising. Pretty typical, right? I know that my habits affect my whole family and these days, we really seem to be in need of some healthier habits around here. We have decided to bring the kids in on this with us and will be setting some health goals together as a family this weekend.
I have also set some writing goals this year and I am excited to start taking my writing more seriously. But it is already bedtime and my one and only chance to sit down (other than in the drivers seat of the car and that does NOT count) lasted for about 45 minutes while Caboose was napping. The time was mostly spent eating lunch over a book (since I hadn't had time to eat earlier) and when I was done, I was left with about 15 minutes of spare time to crack open my laptop and write a couple of sub-par paragraphs before Energy showed up. He came bounding in from school only to talk my ear off while starting
on a project to build a catapult and booby-trap his room (which,
incidentally, he succeeded at with very little help from me). Looking back over the day, it seems like a pretty typical one. So, clearly I have overestimated how much time I have during the day to devote to writing and I have to admit I am a little heartbroken.
I've heard it said that writers don't have clean houses. The trouble for me is that I can't think straight when I'm in a cluttered space, so I feel compelled to tidy up before I sit down and write. The quantity of children I have, combined with their aversion to putting things away, leaves me in a bit of a pickle. That's why I often find myself staying up late at night after the days' messes have mostly been put away hunched over my laptop, the sound of the dishwasher pulsing like music to my ears. Hence the reason I haven't been getting enough sleep.
So here we are again--I'm up late and the wheels in my brain are turning. I know I won't be sleeping anytime soon and therefore will not be able to wake up early enough to exercise. My lack of exercise will leave me feeling lethargic, thereby making me more likely to turn to sugar to give me the energy that is not coming from anywhere else. I have come to the conclusion that there are simply not enough hours in the day to take care of five children and do something for myself.
I could really, really use Dumbledore's Time Turner.
Or, if that doesn't work out, I could embrace one of the following options instead:
1. Stop feeding, cleaning up after, and washing clothes for my kids. Then wait and see what happens. How long do you think it would be before Child Services came banging at my door? Additionally, I could stop taking them to their various activities, stop bathing them and stop spending time with them altogether. After all, I had kids so that I could ignore them, right?
2. Send the two little ones to daycare so that I can stay home and write during the day while the older kids are at school. Then make the kids do extra chores each night instead of their homework when they get home from school. Never mind the exorbitant price of day care and the likely insurrection that would result among the troops at having even more chores (they already do quite a bit as it is). Also, I don't really want to miss the last few years I have with my two littlest before they enter the school system.
3. Stop sleeping and exercising and instead use that time to write. This is my typical option of choice, though it is certainly not ideal. I have been employing it for some time now and if I keep it up much longer I will have to size up my wardrobe and hire someone to translate my zombie-like speech so that those who are more well-rested can understand me.
4. Stop writing and doing anything else that gives me pleasure and identity as an individual. (Of course, being a mom gives me great pleasure, but you know what I mean.) It seems to me that this is not any more of a viable option than numbers 1-3, but unfortunately this is what often happens just by default.
So, it looks like we're back to the drawing board. Any great ideas out there?
Just for the record, if you ask me at the end of each day what I did during said day, I can almost never tell you. I have no idea. All I know is that I'm exhausted and I haven't accomplished anything other than maintaining (for the most part), the status quo. Here's an awesome summary I read a few years ago on what a mom does all day, though I think it still needs a few more paragraphs to really be complete.
After pondering on my conundrum for the better part of the afternoon and evening while making dinner and school lunches, folding laundry, and protecting Caboose from Plucky, I came up with one final option:
5. Change my outlook, not my life. Yes, I am busy and there is absolutely nothing I can do about it. Yes, I would love to be able to set goals that I have the physical capacity for keeping. But rather than focusing on the things I can't change, I need to focus on the one thing I can--my attitude. I can be cranky that I don't have more time to devote to my hobbies and passions, or I can embrace my life as it is and just make things work in the best way I can. This is what I have control over. This is what I can change.
Just in case you're wondering, since it should be clear that I am choosing option 5, that does not mean I am giving up on my new year's resolutions already. (The new year doesn't actually start until the Monday following Jan 1st anyway, right? Mondays are great days for change.) That means I still have four more days to pack Christmas away and calm my mind before making some real changes.
Unless perhaps you know where I could find a time turner...