Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Time Management and Other New Year’s Resolutions

Ok, ok, I know. We’re almost mid-way through January. New Year is becoming a distant memory. Hell, if I listen to Kylee the year is half over. So here I am posting blog Number 2 for the year. I’ve actually been having a lot of problems with this post, trashing draft after draft. Apparently great literature takes time to craft. Don’t be misguided by that last statement, as I fear that it is closer to doggerel minus the verse.

So, why all the trouble writing this post?

Well, I started writing ages and ages ago about how much time I seemed to have in my day. I was new to house-dadding, still had a Monday to Friday 9 to 5 work mindset and I didn’t really know what my role was. Sure there was this baby that needed looking after, but that was fairly straight forward, eat, sleep, change nappies, nurse in arms or place in bouncer, all could be relied upon to facilitate contentment. Then there was some cleaning and I was managing to stay on top of that (it actually takes months of staying at home before you notice dust settling, scuff marks, sloshes, spills, et al, etcetera, etcetera). So, there I was sitting one day when this Rolling Stones song popped into my head;

Yes time, time, time is on my side, yes it is
Time, time, time is on my side, yes it is
Oh, time, time, time is on my side, yes it is
I said, time, time, time is on my side, yes it is
Oh, time, time, time is on my side
Yeah, time, time, time is on my side

I have an inkling that I’m not the first person who’s found themselves in my situation, thinking they have all this spare time and then leaping to the next obvious connection, ‘I should do some study, post-grad, or maybe something totally different. You know, treat this time as a hiatus.’ So there I was trawling through university web-sites looking for courses that might be of interest and then I remember something… I wasn’t a very good student in the first place. ‘Very poor time management skills’ would be the comment on my report card. I would always get assignments in late and needing to throw myself at the mercy of lecturers to accept my offerings. I even tried doing deals, “can you mark my assignment and no matter what its actual grade, I’ll take either a pass or fail.”

I decided I could do without that type of stress again so I didn’t enrol to study.

Anyway, that’s a synopsis of what Version 1.0 of this post was going to be about. Version 2.0 had my mind ticking over about the ethereal nature of ‘Time’. To most in society it’s a concrete concept. A concept that will result in chaos unless it is heeded and adhered to. To me, however, it has become more abstract.

The other day when I was tapping away at the keyboard on this subject I wrote, ‘Today is Thursday 7th of January 2010. I have to tell myself these things as I often lose track of time.’

And it’s true to. Over Christmas I had no idea of the date or the day. I didn’t have the usual markers to help me out. Kylee wasn’t at work, so I couldn’t tell if it was somewhere in between Monday or Friday. Gymboree was on a break so I didn’t know if it was Thursday. I was lost… Not that it bothered me, but it drove Kylee mad.

“How can you live like that?’
Shoulders shrugged “I don’t know? I just can.”
I pulled out the white board marker and tried to sit My Sweet down to further explain, “Time and its various denominations sometimes seem irrelevant when you’re the stay at home person.” I announced with authority, however, seeing her eyes glaze over, I felt it necessary to get her back onside.
“Don’t get me wrong, I count down until 7pm when its time for James to be in bed and I look forward to Fridays and the weekend help you provide. And I’ve never missed the immunisation days at the library.” Not entirely true, but since they jab kids there on the same day every week, it’s not like missing a ‘real’ appointment.
With the feeling that she was back with me, I ploughed on.
“For me, time has new units of measurement. From time to time I find it necessary to utilise the traditional hours, minutes and seconds approach, but I also have a new, creative system for measuring time. For example, if James becomes clumsy, tripping over his feet and comes up whingeing, its time for his morning or afternoon sleep. If I look in the mirror and see light stubble, it’s been around 3 days since I shaved.”
Kylee appeared unconvinced. More examples would be required to add substance to my new world view. I decided to head into safer territory.
“Ok, look at this way. If, say, I only vacuumed on a Monday, well that wouldn’t work, would it? So, traditional time does not dictate when I vacuum, however, ‘messy time’ does. Things just get done, when they need doing.” I saw a nod of agreement. I had Kylee where I wanted her. She was about to agree that ‘laissez faire’ house keeping was a good idea. That a ‘just-in-time’ approach could work. But, I am male after all and I tried to over-reach with a confidence that wasn’t backed with ability.
With earnestness I continued, “And take for example the sheets on our bed. They’re not ‘dirty’ dirty after only a week. With my approach to time I get a feeling … a sixth sense if you will … an instinct … its intuition that lets me know when its been an appropriate length of time between changes …..” Cut off I was.
“And what is this instinct, intuition, sixth sense if you will …” dripping with sarcasm “… is it when the pillow case sticks to your head when you get up in the morning or when you hear a cracking noise as you turn down the sheets at night?”
Point taken, another situation where my time-keeping ability had been challenged and had been found wanting.

And although Version 2.0 was coming along ok and could have been a post on its own, it wasn’t quite right. I was sitting down, trying to write a post for the beginning of the year. One that would excuse my tardiness for weeks without posting, particularly as I had started this blogging with lofty ambitions.

So, here I am writing Version 3.0 Since it’s the beginning of the year perhaps it’s appropriate for me to make a few New Year’s resolutions. First of all, I resolve not to use bad language around James, although he can’t talk, he will soon and I don’t want his first words to be ‘dead shit’. Secondly, I resolve to limit the amount of time that the TV is on during the day. And thirdly, I resolve to have better time management and be more organised for the sake of Kylee’s peace of mind and James’ well-being and as it pertains to this blogging thing, well rather than posting every other day as was my ambitious but fool-hardy goal, perhaps if I can manage one or two a week, then I will have done well.


  1. Nice reflections, from a stay-at-home dad in the U.S. I read an article somewhere recently about breaking up your chores or goals of things-to-do into 20-minute snippets. If you adhere to the approach, you actually end up getting more done, the article maintained. I've tried it and it seems to work.

    Good stuff.

  2. Benny - memories come flooding back of a huge kitchen bench absolutely covered in plates, bowls, cereal boxes, cutlery, and even a barbeque and a half fixed vacuum cleaner at one stage - time to do the washing up when there was nothing clean left in the cupboards - you haven't changed that much my friend!