I told my mother this past weekend that I am stressed out and anxious because every single day I have a to-do list a mile long and I barely make a dent in it. She replied that I should just try to accomplish three things on the list and not worry about the rest. That is a great point. But for someone like myself who needs to be busy and has struggled with anxiety nearly all my life focusing on only three things a day is a daunting task.
Priorities. I need to come up with a better set of priorities. I did a priorities exercise with Goose the other day because she started her senior year and I don't think she knows what she is really going to do after high-school. I had her list five things that are the most important in her life. This is what she came up with.
1. Having fun. This is her top priority. If she isn't doing anything fun then she is unhappy. She always has to be listening to music, playing games on her phone or computer and texting her friends.
2. Attending school. Grades are not important, just being present is what is important to her.
3. Her faith. It is very important that she has a close relationship with Jesus, prays every single day, attends mass on Sundays and shares her faith with her siblings.
4. Taking care of her siblings. She helps me out a lot with the kids and enjoys spending time with them.
5. Making Mom (me) proud. She thinks she needs to constantly seek my approval. I told her all she needs to do is show me that she is responsible by keeping her room clean, helping me out with the little kids and getting good grades. I am already proud of her.
Based on the above we still don't know what is in store for her after high school. Now my priorities are another story.
I still can not figure out what is the most important, how I should spend my valuable and limited time. I learned the hard way that I can not function on less than eight hours of sleep a night. So sleeping has been my top priority lately. Don't bother me between the hours of 10pm and 6:30 am.
I have to eat. If I don't eat I will not have energy to feed my kids. Mom needs three meals. Do not bother me at 7am, 12 noon and 5:30 pm. Eating is another one of my priorities. This includes making meals for my family.
Coffee. Mom can not function without her coffee in the morning. Don't bother me from 6:30-7am.
From 7:30 am until 9am I am busy getting the kids ready for school and then taking them to school. From 2:45 pm until 3:45 I am picking my kids up from school. Education is another one of my priorities.
We pray at the dinner table, attend mass every Sunday, read bible stories at night and pray again at bedtime. Faith is another one of my priorities. Do not bother me on Sunday mornings.
Family is another one of my priorities. In order for my family to be healthy and happy, as their mother and wife it is my responsibility to make time for each and every one of them, cook good healthy meals for them and keep up a clean house. From 9am until 10am I clean the kitchen, put the laundry on, and make the beds. From 10am until 12:30 I spend quality time with Little Bear. Sometimes we play hot wheels cars, if the weather is nice we go to the park or color together. We also eat lunch together until nap time at 12:30. At 4pm I help my kids with homework, begin getting dinner ready, talk to them about their day and sometimes go to the park with one or two of them if the weather is nice. 4:30pm I start cooking dinner. 5pm-6pm is dinner time. 6-6:30 I help clean up from dinner. We all work together clearing the table, putting the the food away, wiping down the table, doing the dishes and vacuuming. 6:30pm is PJ time and getting ready for bed time. This lasts until bed time at 8pm. It is a long process when you have four kids 8 and under. From 8pm until 9 I spend quality time with my teenage daughter. This is her only chance to really have an uninterrupted conversation with her mother. If Chris is home then I spend 9-10pm with him.
How much time does that leave me to do other things that I enjoy? Not much. I don't even have time to take a shower every day. Blogging and commenting on blogs is on the back burner right now. I stopped working out. I no longer play my flute. In fact, it is still in a box. We finally live closer to my friends but going out with them is out of the question because I lack the time and money for that. I do enjoy spending time with my family, cleaning the house, fixing dinners, going to mass on Sundays and of course eating and sleeping, but I crave that special "me-time."
When I don't have "me-time." I get depressed. It is important for personal well-being to have interests and hobbies. I have interests and hobbies, but lack the time to participate in them.
Last night I told Chris that for once I would love to trade places with him. He needs to experience what it is like to be stuck in a house with no time to yourself and no money to spend on enjoyable activities. Just once. Then he reminded me that he did that for a year when he was unemployed. I told him that I have been living this way for six.
How do you manage your time and priorities? Do you make time for hobbies and enjoyable activities?