by Julia Sanderson
Full disclosure: I’ve been sucking at time management lately. But, even though it’s summer
break, it still causes massive amounts of grief when the boss isn’t sticking to a routine. (For all intents and purposes of this piece, “the boss” is also known as “Mom” or me.)
Routine and schedule are something of a religion around our house. During regular school year hours, we really need things to hum along at a steady pace. I have two human boys, two canine boys, and a husband (okay, sometimes he counts as a kid too). My older son is a teenager and also happens to have high functioning autism, so he is a worshiper of routine. It’s his security blanket, in a way. No springing last minute appointments or trips or pop quizzes on him, or we all SORELY regret it. My 11 year old is much more flexible, but, since he’s an artist at heart, I have to keep him on a schedule too, or he will procrastinate and piddle until the end of time.
Even the dogs love their routine and schedule - they know EXACTLY when it’s time to go for walks and to eat. Their internal clocks are more accurate than Swiss timepieces. You get the picture. We are all busy. That’s been done and discussed to death, right? Wake up; eat breakfast; ready for work/school; off to work/school; work/school have schedules; home from school; blah, blah, blah..
And then Mom goes and throws endurance training into the mix. *Insert screeching brake sound here*
Wait WHAT?! Yeah, so somehow training for triathlons and road races (and sometimes ocean mile swims) helps me focus and stay the course. My teen requires a lot of mental and emotional energy from those around him, but especially me. Without boring you with details, I’m constantly “on alert” for anything that may throw him off and possibly trigger an outburst or meltdown or just unnecessary tension.
Triathlon training helps me burn off excess tension in myself, so that I can deal with any problems that arise for/with him, meaning, I don’t lose my sh** when he does. It LITERALLY keeps me sane. Okay, well, saneish, and possibly out of jail.
Why would I add this insanity to already busy days?
Well, that’s where the magic of time management helps out. It requires me to consciously sit down and plan out every week and every day of that week, down to the meals and snacks. (Of COURSE, there are snacks two growing boys and a triathlete mom?!)
Honestly, though, it helps even if I’m not doing heavy duty training.
I don’t do the planning, and suddenly we are eating dinner at 9 PM on a night when there are no scheduled after school activities, or I’m picking up takeout (both expensive and not necessarily healthy) because I didn’t plan a meal. (Okay, sometimes my teen eats all the food, and takeout or pre-made meals from the grocery store are necessary anyway.)
Usually, on Saturday afternoons, I look at two calendars - the family calendar and my training
schedule. I always ask my uber picky children what they want for dinners, and, for the love of all that’s good in this world, my hope is that ONE DAY they will agree on the same things to eat. But, for now, I’m a short order cook. (My teen has massive sensory issues, including tastes and textures, so that’s fun not.) I make a grocery list for all those meals and for their standard breakfasts and lunches (those are almost always the same, so it’s a no brainer), and then I do the shopping on Sunday afternoon. I try to prep some of the meals Sunday evenings, if chopping or marinating or that sort of thing is required. This helps to prevent 9 PM dinners and other evening drama during the week. It also prevents hangry meltdowns from any one of us too.
Would I LOVE to fly by the seat of my pants every night for dinner? DUH! But, it just isn’t feasible
or smart for us. Let’s face it who has time to make a gourmet meal every evening for dinner after all the other running around all day? Who really has the energy? So, despite my tendencies toward lazing around on the weekends, I don’t let myself slack (unless it’s summer and we have nowhere in particular to go). Because then EVERYTHING sucks, and I feel like I have teen angst myself. And, honestly, no one wants to see ME hungry and tired. It’s UGLY, y’all. We’re talking the Snickers TV ads about hunger, but just not funny at all. So, don’t be like me during summer break.