One of the funnier things about my recent asthma attack was its timing. I had decided to start tracking my time again, to help me with a project I'm working on. I decided to start last Wednesday, despite the fact that I had an eye doctor appointment in the middle of the day. I figured that doctor's appointments happen, and it would be interesting to track how I absorbed that into my schedule. My plan was to add up my weekly totals from Wednesday to Wednesday, which, by a strange coincidence, is what I did the last time I did a timetracking exercise.
But then the asthma attack hit, and my week went to hell. I considered going ahead as planned, because after all, illness happens, too, and you have to absorb that into your life just like anything else. But then I discovered that I'd made a mistake in how I set up my tracking spreadsheets, and decided it wasn't worth the effort to fix that retrospectively. So I'll consider these five days of timetracking to be a trial run of sorts, and start tracking "for real" tomorrow, in a newly fixed weekly spreadsheet.
The last five days' worth of data won't be completely wasted, though. They confirmed that I have my categories essentially correct. The non-work categories were still relevant, despite the fact that I made no changes from my previous exercise, and the new work categories seemed to capture my time well. I also noticed some interesting things, particularly about my weekends. As I tracked my time this weekend, two things jumped out at me:
1. My time is very fragmented- which explains why I have plenty of time to write short blog posts, but struggle to put together the time to tackle some of my larger projects.
2. I spend a lot of time doing things that could be put in multiple categories. Some I remembered from the last exercise. Watching TV with my husband could either be "watching TV" or "spending time with my husband." (I usually categorize it as "spending time with my husband," because left to my own devices I'd probably watch very little TV- I'm watching it because he likes to watch TV together.) Others took me by surprise. For instance, on Saturday, Petunia insisted on taking a walk for nap, so I put her in her stroller and decided to push her over to pick up the dry cleaning I'd dropped off a few weeks ago and then forgotten about. I was out walking for about an hour. Was that exercise (the walk), child care (the nap), or laundry (the dry cleaning)? I decided to call it exercise, even though the only reason I headed out for a walk during the hottest part of the day was that Petunia wanted it, and I didn't want her to throw a tantrum and disrupt Pumpkin's Chinese lesson.
I'm not sure what I think about these two observations. I'd certainly like my time to be less fragmented, but some of that is just a function of the age of my children. However, I've noticed that my husband's weekend time is less fragmented than mine, so perhaps I either need to emulate his methods or negotiate some time when he's the "go to" parent for the kids. (And all of you other parents of toddlers can start laughing now at the idea that Petunia might show the slightest bit of respect for who the adults think should be the "go to" parent at any given time.)
I'm less concerned about the multitasking, although I do want to keep any eye on that and make sure that I'm not multitasking too much when I spend time with my children. I don't think I am, but discovering the actual truth of how you spend your time is why you do timetracking exercises, so I think I'll just wait and see what the data show after a few weeks.
Also, I have an advance copy of Gretchen Rubin's new book Happier at Home, and I wonder if I might have some different insights into how I'm spending my time at home after I read that book. No doubt, I'll be back to write more about this subject later.
In other time-related news here at Chez Cloud, it appears that Petunia is now sleeping through the night. Or at least she's slept through the night for the past couple of weeks- which is about a week and a half longer than her previous record. If she is now going to sleep through the night more often than not, she arrived at this point just like her big sister did, namely, when she was ready, without any active encouragement from us, unless you count the wishes and sleepy thoughts I'd been sending her way.
She is, for the record, just two months shy of three years old. Pumpkin hit this milestone closer to two (an event I apparently failed to document at the time), but as I've mentioned before, Pumpkin's first year of sleep was far tougher on the adults in the house than Petunia's was, so I think we can consider them even in the sleep disruption department.
Now that we're here, with Petunia sleeping through the night in her own bed, I find that I'm glad we were able to wait and let her get to this place on her own terms. I remember having similar thoughts after Pumpkin finally started sleeping better, too. It fits with how I think about attachment and security in young children- another topic I think I'll come back to later, after I've had time to digest some of the stuff I've been reading in Mother Nature recently.
And of course, what I think on this is just my opinion, and is relevant mainly to my own choices, not anyone else's. I don't have a shred of judgment in me for people who decide they need to help their child learn to sleep through the night on his or her own far before three years have passed. In fact, up until Petunia just magically started sleeping through, I was frequently convinced that I should be doing just that. It is easy to be zen after the fact, and much harder to be so when you're struggling through another exhausted day thanks to a wakeful child.
I had thought that I'd find myself with a lot of extra time once Petunia started sleeping through the night. I don't. I find myself with a lot more energy, but having been through essentially non-optional sleep deprivation, I am in no hurry to volunteer for more, so I am still going to bed earlyish.
We have gained some extra time in our evenings, though, due to a change in how we're doing bedtimes. We're reading the kids their stories together and then splitting up to get them both down at roughly the same time. We've told Pumpkin that this slightly earlier bedtime is in preparation for kindergarten, which is true. She doesn't need to know it is also a way to grab some time back for the grown ups in the house. The only downside is that we've had to put the chapter books we'd started reading to Pumpkin away for a little while, but that seems like a small price to pay for the extra 20 or so minutes one of us gains each night.
The new routine also makes soloing the bedtime routine a little easier. That will get even easier- and we'll grab back even more time- once Petunia starts going to sleep on her own. Based on the info in Bedtiming and our experience with Pumpkin, we'll probably start working on that not long after Petunia turns three. And no, I can't explain why I am perfectly happy to "work on" teaching Petunia to go to sleep on her own and not on teaching her to sleep through the night- I'll have to think some more about that and see if I can come up with anything interesting.
But right now? It is time for bed.