Monday, July 18, 2011

Time Budget

Wow, it is almost midnight. I ought to get to bed soon.

I have a hard time getting to sleep at night when I have a lot of stuff pressing on my mind. I often write out my feelings if something is bugging me, or make a list if it is *things I need to do* that is keeping me awake. My list gets longer every year, though.

One constant, recurring theme over the past ten or fifteen years has been the sense that I don't have time for everything. That I have too many things vying for my attention. It used to be work, school, pets, housework, kids, church, volunteering. I had a hard time budgeting my time. It's almost the same as budgeting money. Like back when I was barely making ends meet and had $50 to my name for the rest of the month. And it was winter, and one kid had holes in his shoes and another had no decent socks and we needed food and so did the dog and one of the kids had a birthday coming up and the phone bill was overdue and the car was almost out of gas. What the heck do you do with that? It's hard. You cannot turn $50 into $200 even if it is really $200 that you need. So you have to pick. Sometimes we picked gas, because I had to go to work. We might squeak by with food bank food, a clearance gift for the birthday, and making the dog eat cat food until next paycheck. But some stuff just didn't get paid or bought and that was just the way it was.

And it's like that with time. You have 24 hours, period. You need to sleep and eat and bathe, right? And the other stuff, you have to decide what gets your time. For me, it is always a game of "which is more important?"

I have had to learn to prioritize because I have too much to do. Just like most everyone else does. Time with my kids, errands to run, walking and training the dog, cleaning and cooking and doing the laundry, yard work and paperwork and all the other things an adult has to do. And the things that have gone by the wayside freak me out a little:

photo albums and baby books: I have had a goal to work on these every year. I used to get them done. But not since 2001 or so. All my kids' albums and book stop there. I want to put them together. It is important to me. But it always gets put on the back burner.

exercise: I make and remake goals and plans for more exercise. I start and stop and start and stop by arm exercise routine, my physical therapy exercises, my biking. But I never stay consistent, mainly because when I do finally have "free" time (after about 10pm, like tonight) I am so exhausted that I cannot imagine trying to exercise then. Instead, I do some winding down... easier stuff, like reading, paying bills, blogging, answering emails, and yes... making lists. And it is easier for me to kill 2 birds with one stone by walking the dog a couple miles a day: we BOTH get some exercise.

organization: lemme tell you, it is hard for me. I have boxes and piles and rooms full of stuff that needs to be organized. But I just don't get to it. It is all I can do to keep up with the house and yard work around here. Yes, kids do help, but 2 are working/college students and one just finished kindergarten. Not a lot of help going on there (but some, yes). And when you have the *stuff* of 21 years of mothering 5 biological kids, 3 stepkids, and 5 foster kids, it piles up and gets away from you.

I have mentioned not having enough time before, and sometimes I get "suck it up and do it all" comments. People say "where there's a will there's a way." Well, maybe. It's like that $50 I used to have to cover $200 of expenses with. We made it through, and I did get out of that condition... BUT no, I could not buy my kid new shoes that month. I just could not. And I have to wonder if the "suck it up" folks understand the full-time job being a mom to many kids is. Especially when you're doing it pretty much alone.

My days are full and joyful. I just wish there was more time. Yet I am thankful for the wonderful children and pets that I freely give my time to. This fall, when the kids are all in school full time, I will have lots more time alone. I am sort of dreading it, but also excited to see the changes that will enable me to make in my life. A cleaner house, maybe? More time to train the pup? An hour in the morning to bike and lift? Perhaps I can plant that flower garden I've always wanted to create. Time for me? More sleep? Going back to work, perhaps? Or will I take care of medical needs I have put off, and perhaps try again to find a counselor who understands eating disorders? We'll see.

And with that, it is time for bed. Good night!


theresa said...

If you manage even one of those extra items this fall it is an awesome success. I find time is gobbled up by those things that crop up unexpectedly and must be dealt with. (just returned from a long round trip to DH's job to deliver his cell phone that he forgot but needs for the day...... that's the kind of stuff that eats holes in our day. :)

Barbara said...

I have been following your blog for about a year now, and somehow I missed the fact that you had so many children!

Do you have a blog post about your kids you could point me to? I'd love to know more about why you decided to be a foster mother.

I am just in awe and admiration of mothers who raise big families!

Jill said...

I really enjoyed this post. As you said- too much to do- not enough time. It is really hard to prioritize things. We want it all. It is great to focus on the current things that bring us happiness and then look forward to what will be next when we have a free moment. It sounds like you have a good mindset for the near future. But I am with you... I think the "suck it up" comments come from people who don't understand!

Lyn said...


I don't really have one post about all the kids. I mention them here and there throughout my blog, but I am working on a FAQ/about me page that will give a summary :)

My first kids were my 3 stepkids, who are now adults with families of their own. I have five living biological children whom I gave birth to, ranging in age from just-turned-6 to almost 21. In the early to mid-90's, I became a foster parent because I felt such a draw to help children, and loved being a mom. I first had a brother and sister pair, who were later adopted. Then a teen for a short while. And finally I had a set of two brothers, infant and 7-year old, who were returned to their mother after almost a year. I quit fostering after that because giving the baby back broke my heart, plus I was not done having kids of my own. I also lost two babies; one in the fourth month of pregnancy, and the other a twin to one of my sons.

Debbie said...

I hear you! Great analogy, by the way. I'm not organized either and my house and life show that to be true. Don't listen to the critics who say, "suck it up", they have their own problems. You do what you can and that is all you can do.

ssm said...

I always struggle with time. I keep cutting things out, but other things fill their places. If only life weren't so short, if only I couuld do everything I needed AND wanted to do. Argh.

lisa~sunshine said...

See Lynn... I new we had a lot in common.. your posts just really hit home with me..

I too was a foster mom from 2001 until 2006.. I had several children and babies but it was before my own family started.. I had a sib group that started with 3 kids.. I added a baby every year.. 2002-2003-2004 and had the kids from 2001- until the judge returned them home 2005.. the kids especially babies didn't know there parents.. visits stopped with parents in 2002 so the baby from all those years.. had no idea.. The prior judge was to terminate rights and we were in the middle of the trial when he had a heartattack.. after that the state let things go with too many worker changes.. and things just feel apart.. I hated sending those kids home especially when they were all drug exposed and drugs and severe domestic violence was still happpening.. They now still live at home and last I heard.. she has 9 children now but that was 2 years ago.. I did end up adopting one baby.. my son..

Also.. my daughter who is just a tad older than your daughter.. had a twin that I lost..

Lisa said...

yes, yes, yes. Therapy with someone who understands food addiction or food "issues" as some call it can help so much. That is what I am doing and it's awesome to have someone understand.
P.S., Lyn, I reached 100 pounds lost this weekend! :)

- Lisa

LHA said...

No "suck it up" comments from me! I have four children spread over almost as many years as your five are and I also freely admit that organization is not my forte. I also have five cats and two wonderful dogs, so I understand the pets too. My children are older than yours and I am very close to being a real empty nester. So I can tell you that things do get calmer and time a little more plentiful when some of the kids are out on their own. Until that time comes for you, all you can do is try to do the things you really need to do for yourself. Personally, I put housework behind everything else! Just keep on juggling as you have been and try to hit your highest priorities as often as possible. Be kind to yourself!

Anonymous said...

Have you considered investing in a personal trainer? Someone to whom you must be accountable at least, say, 3 times a week? You could tell them the physical therapy exercises you need to be doing, and then have them work with you on strength training/cardio on top of that.

I have to say, it is sometimes hard for me to understand how you can be so determined to lose weight in the interest of your knees and health, yet you neglect the physical therapy exercises that help your knees so very much. I remember reading about what a difference they made. I think if you start investing in the exercise side of the equation, in terms of making it a priority over certain other things, you'll start to see such a huge difference. What good is it to lose the weight if you aren't taking care of your knees in other ways? Especially in the kind of non-invasive ways that strengthen them and give you more pain-free days?

Lyn said...


going to a trainer would be lovely, if I had someone to watch my daughter. But I don't. I just don't. Money is also becoming an issue around here...

"What good is it to lose weight" if I neglect my knees? Well, for starters, I am saving a lot of money and time on ER visits and specialists for my heart and blood pressure since those issues are gone with the weight I lost. My bloodwork and health checks are dramatically better. I am able to live a rich life, play with my kids, fit wherever I need to fit, and feel good about myself. So even if I am not able at this time to perfectly fit in everything I want to/could be doing for my body/self, I am still pretty darn pleased with the changes I have made.

Anonymous said...

I suppose I was thinking of gyms like 24 Hour Fitness- they have very reasonable trainer rates, and free daycare.

Also, I should clarify that I didn't say it wasn't *any* good to lose weight if you're not working on exercise/physical therapy for your knees. I meant that it's strange (to me) to focus so much on the eating side of the equation, when the exercising side of the equation helps just as much, if not more. And you already know what exercises to do. And you know they work. And, honestly, it seems like saying "I'm going to work out every time my daughter naps/goes to dance/whatever" is far easier to control then your emotional eating, which is understandably very difficult to control.

I'm an infrequent commenter, but I've been reading for almost two years now. I don't say this just off the cuff, and I know it's not easy. But I guess, from the outside, it just seems like prioritizing physical therapy exercises is easier than, say, fighting a binge or planning meals. And if you are doing all of these very hard things- losing weight, restricting certain foods, etc.- in the interest of your knees, it's hard for me to understand why you have such a block in your mind/schedule about doing these exercises that are absolutely proven to work and are just as beneficial as losing weight (if not more).

I suppose I'm trying to get you to maybe reflect on the strangeness of this situation, and why you have this block about prioritizing this area of your life? You have mentioned many times how hard exercise is for you to do/like/schedule/prioritize. Why? You have mentioned in the past that you always saw the athletic girls and thought they were athletic because they had athletic bodies/were naturally good, etc. You have mentioned that you were never put into sports, or had any athletic talent/interest fostered in you. Do you think you may have some mental block about exercise, or athletics, or some idea in your head that you can't do those kinds of things, it's not "you", you aren't good at it/coordinated/etc.? Some lingering insecurity from your past?

You have first hand experience that it is good for you, makes you feel better, and makes you healthier, just as you do with your food choices- yet it doesn't stick, or is not prioritized in the first place, etc. I'm curious as to what kind of reflection you may have done as to *why* this is the case. You have dedicated so much energy on the food side of the equation, and over and over again the number one reason is "my bad knees" or "my mobility" or "I want to be fit to play with my kids". Your inability to walk comfortably to the beach was what motivated you to do all this in the first place. So again- why not take 20 minutes for yourself every day, in honor of those knees? What can we do to help support you in that?

Anonymous said...

And I absolutely sincerely hope you know I'm not discounting what you have already done, or will do, or are doing. It seemed like the end of your reply was a bit defensive, and I hope you know that I am in awe of everything you have done and you absolutely should be pretty darn pleased!

Lyn said...


If we had a 24 hour fitness or any other facility with free child care, I'd have been using it for years. I just cannot afford to pay over $100/month for a gym plus $4/hour for child care at the gym, which is what is available in my town.

And sure, if my daughter took naps I could use that time to exercise. I don't think I have a mental block or issue about exercise. I just do not have time to do everything I want to do. That's life as a mother of five, when you don't have ANY family support and have to do it all 24/7 yourself. So, I just do the best I can for now.

Lyn said...

p.s... I do thank you for clarifying and for your support. I am a little stressed out with things going on in my life right now but I don't mean to be defensive. I am just very tired, and wish I could just have one day... or heck, 2 hours... to do whatever I want to do, instead of always meeting everyone else's needs.

Anonymous said...

No worries at all, I can appreciate being stressed! My comments tend to be ruminations, musings on a stream of consciousness, and the rapid succession of questions, in text, can often come off more blunt/accusatory than my true intent, which is more pondering/curious. In any event, I do very much hope you get some time to yourself and that some of this stress subsides for you :)