Monday, 9 September 2013

Carving Time

Are you time starved or do you time-carve?  How do you make time for everything?  

By everything, I mean, the non-life-threatening life events that really are life-threatening if left for too long undone.   You know what I mean don’t you?   The exercise, the chopping of veggies for healthy whole food meals, the husband-wife moments, the time with girlfriends…

Of course with children, there are more than enough “life-dependent” tasks to be done…feeding said children, clothing them, bathing themOn top of that, there is schooling them, exercising them, and disciplining them which again, NEED to be done on a moment to moment basis as the time arises.  No matter how good you are at scheduling (and I would hazard a guess that everyone reading this could successfully land the logistics manager position at any major airport) you simply cannot schedule in time outs, the third bath of the day, the extra load of laundry created by an accident the night before or, of course the dreaded stomach flu.

And so, it seems, caring for all these “right-nows” steals away time for any of those aforementioned niceties. 

But we are told to “make time”.  Fit it in.


There is another saying I’ve been told and this one, this one short phrase makes far more sense.  Yes it’s cliché but if you really visualize it, like with a knife in hand, it makes complete sense.  It’s far more challenging and yet it’s the cold hard truth.  “Carve out the time”.

Now that’s something I can wrap my head around. 

Because quite literally, making time for exercise equates to chiseling twenty minutes out of an otherwise granite-like 16 hour day.  But twenty minutes out of 960 really shouldn’t be hard should it?  No it shouldn’t but we’re not just hacking away here people!  We are carving, we are creating with purpose, we are stone-masons! IT'S NOT EASY!

If we simply hacked away the 20 minutes, the kids would be left to their own devices (which means my 5 year old would take it upon herself to scramble everyone eggs, my 4 year old would go check out the latest heavy duty mechanics going on underneath the nearest tractor - which is within his walking distance - and my 1 year old would be seeing what new heights he could reach after discovering he can push our bar stools next to the stove top)  And this would all happen in 5 minutes!  If that was 5 minutes left alone, imagine the “fun” we’d have with 20!

Of course, twenty is a random number.  It happens to be the length of one of Jillian Michaels’ Shred-it DVD’s which I love and has earned it’s respectful spot with my carving knife so I'm going to run with this example.  But maybe all you can realistically carve out is five minutes in the morning and five minutes in the afternoon (and no, doing your business on the toilet does not qualify for “me-time” even though I know, some days that’s the only time that is set aside just for you – minus the fingers wriggling under the door and the shouts of unfairness drifting through the wall.)  Or maybe what you really need is an entire evening out (like four complete ,unadulterated...or should I use the word unchildrenated...hours!  Oh my, the extravagance!)
Whatever the time needed, it's carving you must do.  

Carefully, with precision, realizing that when you cut into your day, a piece falls off, so you better not need it that much.  And really ladies (and gentlemen!) I challenge you to scrutinize what you think you need.  I only suggest this because I have to do it hard-core to myself every now and then, and I know, it isn’t easy.   
Do you really need that pile of laundry folded right now?  Do you really need the house in perfect order after suppertime (because you know if you leave the house for an evening and Dad is in charge...the supper dishes, crafts from the morning, toys from the afternoon may or may not still be there in all their glory when you get home).
Here's my example.  By exercising for 20 minutes in the morning, I will not get the breakfast dishes done.  They will sometimes even remain on the table…milk souring, eggs hardening, crumbs scattering throughout the kitchen.  Is this pretty? No.  But so what?  Am I entertaining the queen today?  Leave ‘em for lunch, or better yet supper!  When I challenged myself to only do dishes once a day, my day opened up considerably.  But I can’t stand dishes in the sink!  Believe me, neither could I, but if I was exercising (and I presume you’re not exercising in your kitchen), guess what?   I couldn’t see them!  But I still know they’re there causing me more work for later.  Yes you will and this is what the unpleasant but necessary carving is all about.  Get over it and carve away.  Likewise, to avoid aforementioned hacking and leaving the children to their own devices, you will need to give them something to do.  A simple craft is nice but requires instruction and supplies.  You could try and entice them to do the task with you but in most cases, it's not safe (ie. a 1 year old chopping veggies?) nor something they will actually love to do, and in some cases just not possible.  But here's the thing.  Technology is a tool.  It can be used and abused.   Use it.  Purposefully and with intention.  Control the amount of screen time they get so it's a novelty, and pay attention to the program that's on and ask them questions about it later.  A little forethought and your carving just became much easier.

Sometimes you’ll carve the wrong thing.  It happens.  Like when I decided to carve out some one-on-one time with my daughter by listening to her read while expecting the boys to stay in their room for some quiet time.  Forgetting that there are books on a shelf in their bedroom.  Egad!  And there are blankets in there. Horror!  And there are clothes hung up on hangers.  Ha!  Not anymore!!  And it turns out the 15 minutes I wanted with miss E is now costing me an hour to supervise and implement operation bedroom-clean up.   Yup, well-intentioned carving gone wrong.  

Lastly, certain carves will just not happen when you want them too.  Personally, I could not, would not, not in a house, not with a mouse, carve 20 minutes for exercise into my daily schedule in the first six months of my childrens' lives.   Similarly, carving out the necessary hour in my morning to blog never happened until this year, the first year I am not teaching full time.  Usually, when I try to carve time out for something that's not ready to happen, I end up slashing and slicing away and the whole rest of my day ends up looking pretty ugly. I'm pretty sure Michelangelo never whittled David up on his first go either, so be patient with yourself, carving out time is difficult and there are seasons for certain things.

The best part about being a time carver is that we get a new piece of granite every day, whether we like it or not.  Plus, we're clever so we won’t carve the wrong piece off twice, after all, it leaves a mark.  And, like any great stone-cutter, once we get used to it, we feel much more comfortable holding the knife and watching pieces fall. 

What will you carve out today?  

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