Like most moms who work outside the home, my days tend to be very full, very busy, and fraught with the kind of anxiety that comes with wondering just how I will get everything done before I collapse into bed at night.
A while ago, when I was trying to figure out just why I never seem to have enough time for everything, I wrote down a timeline of my typical day.
It goes something like this:
6:00 Wake up; stumble semi-conscious to the coffee-machine which is programmed to have my coffee ready for me.
6:05 Check emails, see if anything exciting is happening on Facebook, wash up and put on makeup so I can pretend to be pretty.
6:30 Wake up my younger son, get him washed up and dressed, get myself dressed, pour coffee into my travel mug.
7:00 Take my son to his before-school program, then commute to the city centre by bus and subway.
8:30 Arrive at work.
5:00 Leave work.
6:30 Arrive home.
6:35 Make sure everyone’s fed, get lunches prepped for the following day, lay out clothes for kids.
8:00 Create situations designed to encourage my son with autism to converse. Celebrate every word he says.
8:30 Kids go to bed. Hopefully they stay there.
8:35 Clear and reload dishwasher, work on admin for the husband’s business, pay any bills that need to be paid.
10:15 See if my older son is completely asleep. If he is, conduct a stealth haircut session.
10:30 Have a cup of tea while I’m emailing my mom and hanging out on Facebook.
11:00 Go to bed.
That’s on the days I don’t run. And this can be a problem. Running is so much a part of who I am. It is vital for my sanity – without running, my mental and physical health start to get patchy.
But with my day already so full, how do I carve out time to go out and pound the pavement? Where do the hours come from?
With a little bit of time and practice, I have worked out a system that involves planning, sacrificing a little sleep, and sneaking around in the dark. If I follow these steps to the letter, most of the time I will be able to get my run in.
Step 1: Lay out running clothes the night before. The trick is to do this after the kids have gone to bed. If they see me laying out my running clothes, they will be clued in to the fact that I want to go somewhere without them, and they will plot ingeniously to sabotage my intent.
Step 2: Wake up with a jolt at three in the morning and realize that there’s no power left in my training watch. Ponder the fact that running without my training watch is like running naked, and after a brief moment of horror, get out of bed and plug in the charger. Go back to bed, safe in the knowledge that my watch will be juiced up by the time I need it.
Step 3: At 3:45 a.m., repeat Step 2 with my iPod.
Step 4: Wake up at 4:15 and check the time. Worry about whether my alarm will wake the kids when it goes off at 5:00, and resolve to be awake before then. Sleep fitfully, waking up every seven minutes. Sneak out of bed at 4:57 and turn the alarm off.
Step 5: Quietly, quietly, get dressed in my running clothes. Make sure the kids don’t wake up. If they wake up before I can leave, I can say goodbye to my run for the day. Sneak around like a burglar in my own home, gathering training watch, water bottle, and during the winter, hat and gloves.
Step 6: Tiptoe to the front door, put on my running shoes as fast as I can, and leave. Restrain myself from cursing out loud when the front door squeaks.
Step 7: Go running, relish the sense of freedom and accomplishment, and let the endorphin rush give me a lovely buzz. It’s OK for me to briefly hope that the kids haven’t woken up, tied the husband to a pole, and lit a bonfire in the living room. However, I shouldn’t dwell on it.
Step 8: Get home, make sure the silence in the house is because everyone’s still sleeping peacefully and not because the kids are quietly plotting world domination. Breathe a sigh of relief and go on with the day.
When I have to pick running over sleeping, I really do feel like I’m running on fumes – at least for the first ten minutes or so. But then the endorphins start to flow and I get a glorious rush of energy that carries me through the day. And ultimately, it all makes me a more productive person and a mom who’s less stressed and more fun to be around.
How do you carve out time in your busy day to do something for yourself? How important is the role of “me-time” in your life?
This is an original post for World Moms Blog by Kirsten Doyle of Toronto, Canada. Kirsten can also be found on her blog, Running for Autism, or on Twitter @Running4autism. You can also connect with her on Facebook.
Photo credit to the author.
I have a lot of difficulty finding this balance. I’ve discovered that reading is actually stealing a lot of the needed REAL time in my day…
I have a hard time carving out me-time and then when I do, I often feel guilty about it. Not guilty in the sense that I know I need and deserve to do whatever it is I’ve done but guilty because I know my husband doesn’t get the same luxury. For him, if he’s not burning the midnight oil at work, he’s home spending family time or taking over with the kids because I have to be out for something. Even though I find time to fit in running and swimming, he doesn’t (though that’s in part also his own cross to bear).
I thought of you and this post when I peeled open my eyes this morning at 5:30 and went for a day-break run. And you know what, you’re right, I DID feel better 10 min in. I also felt much more productive by the time I was showered, dressed and getting breakfast for everyone AHEAD of the normal routine, when I’m usually dragging and still half-asleep.
Wow your day sounds crazy and very full. I am a diehard runner too but since I stay at home I can sneak the runs in while my kids are at school. I could not live without it. Yet I also can’t imagine getting up and running at five am. You are amazing and it is so good for you and your
Ind and soul to do it. Wow you must sleep like a rock at night after you run. Great post!
Well done on figuring out a way, Kirsten!!
I got bombarded with 2 colds since the beginning of the year, and I’m now fully recovered. That means it’s time for me to start figuring out an exercise plan again. This was great motivation for me!
Finding time to workout is a question that I am constantly trying to solve. And as our schedule keeps changing (hopefully it is set for some time now!), I need to constantly re-evaluate my action plan. In my life BC (before children), I worked out religiously in the morning. It defined me! I had close friends who I meet at the gym every week day morning and was inspired to get up and see their happy faces. Then big girl came along and EVERYTHING changed.
I would absolutely work out at dawn if my husband worked 9 to 5. Being on the west coast, he works New York City hours, which means he leaves the house before the sun even thinks of rising (today I heard he leave at 4:45 am).
So I have attempted to create a space in my house to do yoga. I, too, have to “sneak around like a bugler in my own home” or else the girls are up early and I can forget about doing anything but attend to them.
Thank you for the reminder of how great endorphins are! I am reminded of that every time I get a good workout in but easily forget. Thank you for the inspiration to workout today, tomorrow, and hopefully on and on! 🙂
I say you should just count unloading the dishwasher and all of that other activity all day as your exercise and to to bed woman!
I am filled with admiration for you right now. I really need to re-work the workout plan into my life. Since the baby was born a year and a half ago, I really have not been able to fit it back in. Thanks for the idea of going before the kids get up. I’ll have to try that! Thanks for the inspiration!