I’m not sure what moms did before we understood there were hours and minutes keeping track of the day. How on earth did one monitor sharing, playdates and events?? Now, I realize that our ancient forebears probably didn’t have scheduled swim lessons at the community pool or playdates with specific families at the local playground. But sharing, sharing has always been something to deal with. I’m not sure how many times I say or I hear my kids say, “In how many minutes?” when it comes to sharing. Sometimes we even go so far as to set a timer, just to make sure all is fair.
A big part of my time as a mom is being the timekeeper for the family. How many minutes until dinner? How many minutes until playgroup? How many more minutes until we can go home? Why don’t we have a playdate today? What time is that meeting again? Is the commissary closed yet? Watch out, Clare only took an hour long nap today and she is grouchy this evening.
So much time is spent keeping track of time.
We recently decided to take our oldest two out of gymnastics. They had been involved for about a year and loved to go, but it was taking up a lot of time and becoming increasingly difficult for Clare to stay on the sidelines. Plus, there weren’t any times when both John and Rosie could be in class at the same time, so two mornings a week were filled automatically with gymnastics.
We are a few weeks into the new schedule and I have to say it was the right move. I am less stressed out about getting things done in the mornings, especially on Thursdays when we were trying to cram homeschool plus gymnastics all before 11am. The weather is beautiful right now so we are spending more time outside in the mornings and the kids are getting just as much exercise, if not more, by being home and playing. Plus, we now have so much more time for simple, unstructured play.
Watching my kids simply play has been so wonderful. I can see their imaginations working as they come up with different renditions of how to rescue Rapunzel or Snow White or how they intertwine the characters from a book we are reading and a tv show they watched. I love when they are able to problem-solve together and celebrate one another’s achievements.
Now to be completely transparent, not all unstructured play is picturesque. They are still kids and still fight, still talk over one another, still don’t always want to share and definitely all must be first. But that’s ok, it’s all part of growing up.
As an adult, I am seeing in my children’s need for unstructured play a similar need in myself. Even though I don’t necessarily need “playtime”, having time that isn’t scheduled is so important. Sometimes it is ok to just sit and listen to the wind in the bushes in front of my house or watch the hummingbirds hover by their feeder just beyond the front window. Some days I need to just crochet or knit for its own sake, not not because I want to finish the project faster. I try not to “schedule” too much time for writing, rather waiting for inspiration to strike and then writing that day when I can, carrying it over to the next when I don’t finish. To be free to create means first I must have the freedom, a.k.a. the time.
Time is a precious thing. We can all think of days that we wish we had spent differently. Lately, I have started to build some safeguards into my day to help me make sure I accomplish a few things every day. The most important for me is to pray.
I pray everyday, but I do not necessarily have structured prayer every day. Something that I have done to help me remember to pray throughout the day is to set alarms on my phone which are simple reminders to pray (took this idea from my mom – thanks Mom!). At 1:30pm every day my alarm goes off and reminds me to slow down and pray 2 consecration prayers, one is my consecration to Jesus through Mary and the other is a consecration to Merciful Love. (I will be posting about both of these consecrations in the coming weeks, stay tuned!). And at 3pm, an alarm goes off so that I can pray the 3 o’clock hour prayer of Divine Mercy. Just last night I realized that I still have the Angelus memorized from my high school days praying it in our school chapel with a few students and our theology professor so I might start either a noon or 9am alarm. Personally, I need alarms or I forget (I tried and miserably failed).
So I am the timekeeper, both of my own life and my family’s life. When I am doing a good job, it is a blessing. When we get over committed and stretched thin, I resent it. So, as a challenge to me and to you, how well are you managing your time? Are you resentful of how your day is filled or do you enjoy a balance between work, rest and play? What can you do (it might be to say “no” to something) to achieve a better balance?
Peace and blessings