Friday, October 15, 2010

Five Ways to Steal Some Time For Yourself

Since I've been both a working mom and a stay-at-home mom, I'll adjust my tips for each type of parent.
Sorry if my comments seemed geared more to the female parent, but they're who I know best.

1. Enrol your kid/s in an after-school or extra-curricular program.  Not only is this good for them socially, but it frees up some time for you to just sit down and relax or do something you have not had the time to do (and listen I don't mean chores).  Some programs are held right at school and some programs pick up after school.  Music lessons, sports, dance lessons or art programs are all things to consider.  If money is an issue try your local YMCA (which usually has a smaller fee) or find out if your community has similar programs.

2.  Wake up earlier.  If you and your snooze button are friendly, wean yourself off of this relationship.  If you get up just one half hour earlier than the rest of your household, that's time enough for a workout routine, a slowly sipped cup of tea on the balcony, a chapter out of that book you've been meaning to read, or a morning meditation.

3.  Get a manicure/pedicure or massage after work.  Find a spot that's on the way home from work and book an appointment ahead of time.  Who's going to miss you for the thirty precious minutes it takes for a quick salon appointment?  If you're a stay-at-home, then book a place that's on the way to your kid's school or book a later appointment for when your partner is at home and head out solo.

4.  Get lost.  When you're off doing one of those household duties everyone else expects you to do, take a detour through a park or just take a different route.  Even taking a drive on a long curvy road sometimes works for me (keep the GPS handy).  I would avoid shopping as this usually takes me far off the beaten path and I lose track of time.

5.  Take a real lunch break.  Stay-at-home or working, you deserve a lunch break.  Forget about grabbing a quick sandwich on the run.  Go be somewhere and really be there.  Take a bagged lunch to the steps of your favorite water fountain.  Walk around the corner to the nearest park, plop yourself down on a bench and actually enjoy what you're eating.  If nothing like that is nearby, then at least find a lunch place with some atmosphere and don't order it "to go".

Where would you like to be in five years?

    Recently in a job interview I was asked the question, "Where would you like to be in five years?"  I gave an answer that I thought they would like to hear.  It was somewhere along the lines of, "I see myself working for a company where I am necessary, in a position in which I am being creative and having an impact on the success of the company.  Titles are not as important to me as being valued and making a difference within the company." 
    But really, I had no clue.  I wasn't always this way.  For much of my life I could have answered that question quite frankly.   I was always a dreamer and I was never afraid to dream big.  The unfortunate thing about growing into adulthood is the more you grow the more you hear "no".  Now don't get me wrong, it's not the word so much, but it is what has happened to me after hearing it so often.  It caused me to keep readjusting my ideas of what I could really accomplish.  Could I really write a book?  Could I really own a publishing company?  If I never meet the right person, at the right time, in the right place will I be doomed to work at minimum wage?  Is it still true that people with degrees make more than those without a degree?
As children we are told to "follow our dreams", then when we become adults we are more often told to "be realistic" and "pay the bills".
     So, if i'm realistic in five years I will probably be working some job that helps me pay the bills and take care of my family.  If I'm allowed to dream still, then in five years I could be anywhere, doing anything.  I could be sitting in a plaza in Barcelona, Spain, sketching a picture as I take a break from teaching my English class at the university there.  Or I could be trekking through the Costa Rican jungle doing research for my new book, using the large advance I was given to cover my expenses.
     I mean really, in dreams the possibilities are endless and in five years...I just don't know.