My mother thinks I’m too busy.
“You’re not 35 anymore,” she tells me. This from the woman who will never see 80 again, yet charges around like she’s forever on a mission—probably because she is.
“If I don’t do stuff, I’ll have to give up my column,” I tell her. “I won’t have anything to write about.”
It’s true. If I had the courage, I’d take up skydiving or bungee jumping just to get a column out of it. If I had the money, I’d fly around the world and deliver my adventures to readers 500 words at a time. If I had the energy, I’d volunteer for every opportunity that presents itself and tell you how it goes. If I had the talent, I’d star in a blockbuster movie and regale you with the ups and downs of fame. If I had a willing partner, I’d learn ballroom dancing and let you vicariously trip the lights fantastic as you read all about it.
But there’s only so much I can say about preparing council agendas at City Hall or cooking vegan meals or performing yardwork or taking afternoon naps or pressing buttons on a computer in my church’s tech room. Readers are tired of my old car and my new couch and my weird health issues. You’ve heard enough about my kids and grandkids, at least until one of them wins an Olympic medal or pulls off a bank heist or walks on Mars—all of which I consider highly unlikely.
So I have to keep doing stuff and then writing about it.
Mom’s right when she says I’m not 35. I also require ridiculous amounts of sleep, which bugs me. Life’s too short to spend sleeping. When I see people capable of staying up until midnight, I feel jealous. Especially if they waste those golden moments watching TV or playing video games. Oh, the books I could read. The books I could write!
As someone who once held down three part-time jobs plus college courses with three children still at home, I’ve learned a thing or two about juggling time. So I’m offering three tips for those with a household to run but better things to do.
#1. Make your Calendar and your To-Do List the same thing.
I’m a compulsive list-maker. But making a list on random slips of paper or the back of your hand can be counterproductive. I’m old-school enough to use a spiral bound daily planner. It goes everywhere I go and I write everything in it: appointments, meetings, due dates for bills, tasks for the day, when to put the recycling out, what’s for supper and what books I’ve read. These planners have settled arguments and answered unsolved riddles as well.
#2. Do housework on a schedule, not for company.
I spent twelve years cleaning other people’s homes and quickly learned how demoralizing it can be to clean hard all day only to return to your own dirty house. So once a day, I walk through my home and put away anything out of place. I wash sheets and towels simply because it’s Monday. If it’s Thursday, it means the clothes are getting washed. I clean floors and bathrooms on a regular schedule, with some flexibility. After a while, it becomes a routine and you don’t get unbearably behind.
#3. Cook in marathons.
To be fair, every day felt like a cooking marathon when the kids lived with us. But now that we’re back to two, I don’t cook every day. I make a large pot of soup on the weekend that provides lunch all week. I double-up on most meals so we have extra for the next day or for the freezer. Sometimes I make two or three dishes simultaneously, not bothering to wash the food processor, measuring cups, or spatulas between recipes. Hasn’t killed us yet. The kitchen might look like a disaster zone afterwards, but it only needs cleaning once.
If you already follow these tips, I apologize for taking still more of your precious time. If you don’t, I hope you find it helpful.