It’s after midnight; my family is asleep and the city has settled down for the night. But I’m in the bathroom trying to hang up a new towel bar to replace the one that broke a few weeks ago.
Welcome to a scene of home improvement meets full-time job meets grad-school studies meets parent duties … so many opportunities for stress and so little time.
I’d like to be in bed. I’m counting the hours of sleep I can feasibly get before my alarm goes off at 6:30 a.m. to get up for work. But I can’t leave the bathroom until I get the towel bar hung because I am on a deadline. And that deadline says the towel has to be up by Sunday night. And technically, it’s now Monday morning.
Based on a great article in a recent issue of Parents magazine called “The Secrets of an Organized Family,” my wife and I decided to try to organize our schedules to relieve some stress and make more time for priorities in our personal lives. The authors explain that by running your household like a workplace, you can eliminate chaos and stress by taking control of scheduling and responsibilities.
Some of the things that I’m forced to compromise on because of my busy schedule include spending quality time with our 2-year-old son, participating in family events and playing a more active role in household duties.
The authors suggest a weekly meeting to define priorities for the coming week, coordinating calendars, setting an agenda and prioritizing so you can complete your tasks during the week. One of their most important points is to be realistic about your goals and don’t overcommit.
That’s where our trouble lies.
Given the fact that our home has become a sad display of unfinished or delayed projects, piles of unorganized stuff and a lot of dust, it sounded like something we should try, and fast.
So we held our first weekly meeting and made several lists of things that needed to get done, by category, including long-term, monthly, weekly and daily. We then took a look at our calendars and made a weekly schedule that sounded reasonable on paper.
After the first week, most things on the schedule got done, and I even had free time for doing some long-delayed projects around the house during the week and some family time on the weekend. So we went to a community Easter egg hunt last weekend, the kind of event to which my wife often had to take our son, Louie, without me because of my crazy schedule.
It was the first time I’ve been to one of these hunts, and I was unprepared for the hundreds of competitive parents shuffling their kids around the park and aggressively shoving eggs into their baskets in hopes of winning prizes. Afterward, there was a similar hunt for adults, and things really got ugly.
But in the end, we all had a great time, and to be able to share that time with my family was priceless. Spending quality time with Louie is important for both of us. It shows him that he is important enough for me to make time to share experiences. I end up benefitting because spending time with my son reminds me why I work so hard in the first place.