Monday, September 20, 2010

My Schedule Overflows with Abundance

by Amanda Forester

The one thing I have in abundance is commitments and scheduled activities. What I lack is time. I work, I write, I volunteer, I raise two kids, and every third Thursday, just for a special treat, I let myself get a few hours sleep. Ok, the part about sleeping isn’t true. But it feels like it’s true.

Here is a casual picture of me checking my schedule in my negligee, like I always do. . . hahahaha. Oh, I crack myself up sometimes. No, that’s definitely not me. Stress kitty over here is far more accurate.

Yesterday I got the kids off to school, went to work (and stayed an hour late to deal with “issues”), and then prepped dinner in advance and began the after school routine. That day we had an eye doctor appointment, swimming lessons, piano lessons, and soccer practice.

Perhaps I had overscheduled just a bitsy bit. But… it’s so hard to say no. Even with the acknowledgment that I already have too many things on our schedule, I am still considering more. I know… I need help. But, how can I say no to cub scouts? I mean cub scouts is important – right? And then there’s this slick advertisement for chess lessons. Look – it’s so shiny. Good moms take their kids to chess lessons – it says so right here on the brochure (or at least it’s implied). I think I can fit it in before ballet/tap/tumbling class. Really – no problem at all.

A special opportunity? You need a chaperone for the field trip to the fair? Oh, definitely sign me up. I’ll make up the work later – really, it’s fine. Classroom volunteers? Oh yes, that one is really important. PTA – yes. Pumpkin party – yes. Science fair – oh, yes, yes, YES!

What’s that? You have a class at church on slowing down and becoming more prayerful? Oh, I really need that. I can fit it in between my administrators meeting at work and my orthopedic guild meeting. You need Sunday school teachers? Supplemental art classes? Cookies for the bake sale? Basketball camp?

Oh help! Is there a twelve step program for busy moms? Hello, I’m Amanda, and I’m over-scheduled. I suppose the first step is to admit I am powerless over my schedule. Sheesh – it sure feels that way at times.

So how’s your schedule shaping up for fall? Are you good with time management? Able to say no to being over-committed? Or are you a “yes” girl like me and end up with an abundance of things on your calendar? Tell me about your busy day so I can feel normal!

For me, I admit I have a problem. I will endeavor not to add anything more. Seriously. I mean it.

Oh look – guitar lessons!

26 comments:

  1. Hi Amanda! I totally hear you. We joke around here if only there more hours in the day.... but then we would just fill those up too and then be even busier, LOL! Fun blog! Enjoy the guitar lessons. ;-)

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  2. Oh, gosh, Amanda, I wished I looked like you! The one in the negligee, not the frazzled cat one!!! If I don't do something with my hair before I run to work this morning, I'm going to really look like that cat!

    As much as I know how hectic it will be around Christmas and Thanksgiving with Wolf Fever's Dec release, I've been getting requests already for guest blog tours. And then I'm actually going out and offering to do more. This is way before Danielle even sets them up.

    What am I thinking? (It's a long, long way off.) Yeah, right! It'll be here before we know it!

    I'm with Catherine! Enjoy the guitar lessons!

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  3. Amanda, you are in mommy-jail. This is a special cell block in the larger institution known as kid jail, and at least we can say the time spent there goes quickly and the people you spend it with are the ones you love the most in life. Three times a day, tell yourself: I am a good enough Mom. Tell your spouse something comparable (if you honestly can), and don't forget--as you're soccer-momming around--to ask yourself: What would I do with an entire day of unstructured time? It's an interesting question to ask the kids, too.
    And hang in there. They do leave the nest, and then your habit of high productivity can mean the completed WIPS start stacking up like clean laundry.

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  4. A friend sent me a set of napkins that said: SUV.

    Stop
    Unnecessary
    Volunteering

    It's changed my life. If I could find them, I'd send them to you. But, no, I'm not volunteering to go looking for them. :)

    Seriously, I feel your pain. I'm glad mine are a little older (and can drive). But these years go so fast.

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  5. SO true, Amanda!
    I felt slightly less stretched during early September, but the s**t has hit the fan now. I'm up to my ears in revisions and my deadline is looming closer. Three weeks may seem like plenty of time, but my calendar was already filled with work, appointments, riding lessons, life, etc. Playing MY guitar will have to wait for a while.
    Love the cat!

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  6. Hi Amanda. Whoa. You are a whirling dervish! I used to have hard time saying no to people, activities, etc. Not anymore. Once my twins were born and my number of chidren doubled... I learned how to say it. Ultimately, it was a matter of self-preservation.LOL.

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  7. I went through a rather serious bout of day job-related burnout last year, which exacerbated some chronic health problems I have. To say this was a wake-up call understates matters significantly.

    I made some ruthless decisions about how I spend my time, stripping back to essentials: Family. Health/relaxation. Day job. Writing.

    This burnout forced me to be ruthless about my priorities and my abilities - and to rediscover the word "no."

    And you know what? It feels great. ;-)

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  8. Poor you, Amanda!
    I've never had a problem with saying 'no', but still don't have enough hours in the day. I give up more and more of the things I enjoy just keep up with my writing schedule. I want one of those time-turner thingies that Hermione had in Harry Potter.Do they sell those on Amazon?

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  9. Oh, no! You have to learn to fly under the radar. See, if you don't fill out the paperwork for the police check for volunteers, you CAN'T volunteer. Just keep forgetting to get that paperwork in! That's my strategy anyway.

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  10. Fun post, Amanda.I used to be busy. Not so much anymore. As Grace points out, it's a stage of adulthood.

    I don't think the question is, are you taking on too much? I think the question is, are you doing what matters?

    Myself, I think being a good parent matters. I think if the rest of your life supports activities like chaperoning field trips, you and your children are fortunate. You get to meet all the kids in the class--not just the few who are friends. You get to observe the dynamics between teacher and students. You get to pick up all sorts of subtle clues about what goes on in your child's life.

    As for slowing down and becoming prayerful--I smiled at the wry humor of slowing down to pray forcing one to be more harried than ever.

    But one of the striking commonalities about people whose spirituality has made them deeply effective citizens of the world is how busy they are.Slowing down so that you have time to pray might not be the answer.

    Every moment in our lives is an opportunity for prayer. In my experience the shortest prayers are the most powerful for deepening the spiritual life. They can be said in a grocery line, on the way to a lesson, while potty training or dealing with a tantrum, on a soccer field, or in the middle of an argument. "Teach me to love, right now, in this situation." "Guide me." "Show me what's important". And of course, "Thank You."

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  11. Amanda you are hilarious! Thanks for the laugh. While you are filling in every space on your calendar, try checking out a local chapter of Motherhood Anonymous. And if there isn't such a thing, start your own chapter. Down time is a good thing, don't burn out, we need you. Your kids do to. The hubby is on is own. lol

    Remember: NO, I CAN'T, NOT AT THIS TIME are not cuss words. They are wonderful words. Use them.

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  12. Amanda,
    Your life sounds like mine did a few years ago. I used to call myself the ultimate volunteer! Not anymore. I learned how to say no and I'm much happier--but guess what? There still aren't enough hours in the day to do all I want/need to do. :-)
    Amelia

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  13. Oh, Amanda! You need a vacation!

    I work 40 hours a week (or more depending on whether or not I have a meeting that is imminent). I write - in the last year Tammy and I have written 4 books. I am a single mom. I have started dating.

    I like to say I have four full-time jobs and it often feels true.

    I am also the President of my local RWA chapter, but my term is coming to a close in December and I have no plans to volunteer for anything else.

    I most definitely can and do say "no". I say "no" to my son all the time after all. "No, you can't get that ridiculously priced go cart." And "No, you're too young to see (fill in the blank of the most recently advertised R-rated film.)"

    Actually, now that I think about it, I say "no" at work too. "No, I will not work with Ms. X, she's catty and makes my life difficult. Give me someone else."

    So, now I'm thinking you're a lot nicer than me since you say "yes" all the time. I think "no" is one of my most favorite words. :)
    ~Jodie/Lydia

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  14. Amanda~

    I'm right there with you. I'm working on finding some balance in my life.

    Scheduling work time, alone time--I have to figure out what that is or maybe I need to remember what it is-- family time, and sleep--something that gets put off all too often.

    I'm trying to learn how to have a life where I'm not freaking out about some deadline or another and letting everything fall by the wayside only to have to play catchup after the deadline is met.

    I'm tired of being on a hamster wheel, running, running, running until I make myself sick and I'm thrown off, only to climb back on again running faster...

    Saying no is helping, but it's difficult to do since I'm a real giver. Asking for help is also something I'm trying to master. I do pray for guidance continuously and often ask myself the question, "Is this going to matter in 50 years?" If it's an automatic yes, I do it, if not, I weigh the benefit and cost.

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  15. Amanda, fortunately, I only have the one child. My schedule is pretty hectic so far, but I do know to say no and stick to it. It was either that or be sent to the farm with the men in the white coats. A good lesson to learn for me. If I get out of balance, you have a very nasty Sia to deal with, lolol!

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  16. Amanda, I'm definitely the frizzled kitty. My son is on two football teams, my daughter is starting to ride horses. I feel like a taxi service. Plus, I've got a hubby who's been working from home for over a year. That's distracting. Thank goodness, writing is my only job. I SOOOO admire you ladies who work another job. I don't know how you do it.

    But I do say No freely, partly because I'm lousy at time management and if I did everything I think I should be doing, I'd never get a word written.

    By the way, Amanda. I just finished your book. LOVED IT!

    I love the SUV, Judi.

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  17. Catherine - I know - if I had more hours I would just fill them up - kinda like cabinets - your stuff expands to fit the avaialbel space. What I really need are extra hours no one else gets, so I can have an edge!

    Terry - sounds like you are going to be busy! Congrats on having a new book coming out - that is always fun!

    About the guitar lessons - they are for my son, not ME. I have no musical ability whatsoever. :)

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  18. Grace - Mommy jail - yes that's it! An entire day of unstructured time? Whoa - I'd probably wander around confused and then lie down and pass out - sounds pretty darn good!

    Judi - SUV - love it! That is my new motto! I'll just cross stich myself a place setting... :)

    Cheryl - I hear you sister! I'm trying to finsh my third manuscript by the end of the year and Oh Nellie am I going to have to push!

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  19. Sara - you are very wise. Though with a set of twins and four kids altogether you have quite a lot on your plate!

    Tamara - you are very, very wise. I need to do the same. Once I get run down, everything else goes too.

    Olivia - if you find one of those time turner things please let me know. Price is no object! And yes, it's amazing how many things I do say "no" to, and yet I'm still very busy!

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  20. Shana - are you saying if I had a criminal record I couldn't volunteer? Hmmm... gets you thinking, now doesn't it! ;)

    Mary Margaret - You are so right! I love my Brother Lawrence book which talks about praying throughout the day, no matter what he was doing. If I could get more in the habit of that I'm sure I'd feel more peaceful even if I was still busy.

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  21. Jessica - IS there such a thing as Motherhood Anonymous? I could be the charter member.

    Amelia - I need to do that too! I think this is the time in life when my kids want me to do stuff with them the most. Pretty soon I'll be "uncool" and they won't want to hang out with mommy any more.

    Lydia - wow you are doing a TON! I'm impressed! Isn't it amazing how much one can say "no" to and still have a lot to do!

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  22. Robin - I can totally relate to that hampster wheel! I love your question - "Is this going to matter in 50 years?" That's a good way to weigh whether it is worth the time. We only have so much to go around!

    Sia - I think the men in white coats might be knocking at my door - but I'm to busy to answer! Good for you for taking the time to slow down and be a happier you. I do most of this stuff to spend time with my kids - but it totally defeats the purpose if I'm cranky at them the whole time!

    Anita - horse riding lessons? Oh, please don't tell my daughter those exist or I'd be in trouble! I'm glad you liked the book!

    Ok - I'm off to ballet/tap/tumblng class for my daughter. I know it's busy but the smile on her face is worth it to me!!

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  23. You put your finger on it, Amanda. I've just got kids off to school and work under some vague semblance of control, but it's at the price of the house being in utter chaos and me with a blog tour looming and nothing written! It seems like there's so much that has to be done that it's impossible to get to it all. I guess all we can do is to decide that success means doing our best rather than doing it all!

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  24. Amanda-I think we were cut from the same cloth! My former med tech lab instructor in college always kept telling me to stop volunteering for stuff; it's pretty bad when a teacher tells you to do that right? LOL!

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  25. Abigail - housework is the one thing I routinely say "no" to. See I can do it! Unfortunately my home looks like the aftermath of a frat party - only substitute cat boxes for kegs. Now don't you want to come over for a visit? :)

    Marianne - sounds like you have the yesitis too. Hope it's not too late to recover!

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  26. I adore the cat, Amanda! There are days when I feel exactly like she looks, lol. Wonderful post!

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