Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Exercise. Sort. Create. Read.

Welcome to Project ESCR, my latest plan to achieve the unachievable, i.e. a balanced and happy life as a stay-at-home-mom. Go ahead and roll your eyes now, but please don't roll them in the comments section, because I am so stoked right now, and I don't need your rain on my parade. Project ESCR is sooooo working for me.

Most of you know that I never thought I would be a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM) for very long, and, though my feelings on the subject have changed rather regularly over the last three years, I am pleased to report that for quite some time now (about 10 months, hmmm) I've been seriously content with my SAHM status. I woke up one morning a few weeks ago and re-realized two things for sure: (1) I will not be a SAHM forever and (2) I had better make the most of it while I still am one.

So, then, how to make the most of it? How indeed, when so much time gets sucked away doing the chores and errands and driving here and there? (This situation bewilders me a bit. When I worked full time, I still had to do all those things, and I found the time to do them outside of work, so, in theory, as a SAHM, shouldn't I have 8+ hours in the day to do things other than chores and errands? You would think so, but any other SAHM would tell you that it never really works out that way. The constant reminder of the things we feel we should do is there, in our faces, all day long. So we somehow do them all day long. Or, embarrassingly, we waste a precious hour watching Days of Our Lives [because we can] with alarming regularity. Also no bueno.)

Anyhoo. All fired up to "make the most of it," I sat down and made a list of all the things I "had" to do or "should" do versus all the things I "wanted" to do (there was a little bit of overlap) as a SAHM. The most exciting revelation came when I was looking at my "things I want to do" list and easily identified four things, which, when I do them, make me feel seriously great afterwards.

And thus was born Project Exercise Sort Create Read, or Project ESCR (pronounced "Esker"). Here's how it works. Every day, in addition to doing my chores and errands, I am committing to spending time on each of the ESCR categories. In theory (and believe me, I did the Mom math*) I should easily have 4 hours for Project ESCR every day, which conveniently would allow me one hour per activity per day.

I presented this idea to my husband over dinner one evening, because I knew I would need his support and buy-in in terms of overall family time management. He was totally on board with ESCR, knowing that a happy Gutsy Mom means a happy Gutsy Family. (Also he's pretty much a shoe-in to support anything that has an acronym, so I knew he'd like Project ESCR from the get-go.)

For two weeks now, Monday through Friday, I have kept a little checklist on the bookmark in my day planner that simply says "exercise, sort, create, read." In the interest of full disclosure, I have only actually done all four in one day once (but DANG it felt good). But I must say that any day where I've done at least two of the four activities, I have felt great about the way life is balanced, and this in turn makes me more giving of my time to my kids and husband and dogs. Funny how that works.

In the weeks to come, I'm going to share some musings on each of my 4 ESCR categories, but in the meantime, I am simply committing to doing AT LEAST two of them every day.

By the way, if anyone out there (hello? hello?) has ideas about life balancing to share, please chime in.

The Gutsy Mom

*Mom math is the practice of looking at your daily calendar and figuring out where your pockets of available time will be, assuming (1) the children eat and nap when they are supposed to, (2) you are relatively caught up on dishes, vacuuming, and laundry, and (3) you do not have any papers to edit for your husband.


Mom on the Move! said...

That's awesome! Go Gutsy, Go Gutsy, you can do it! You can do it!!! I have found that without the unit 'obligations' (you know what I mean) and with B in regular childcare (even if she doesn't nap anymore) I have more time for me stuff and I have become quite protective of that time!!! And I am the better for it.

ajk said...

You put me to shame! So organized, it seems. Can I hire you for a week to come and kick my bottom into gear?
Good Luck!

Diane said...

I've had exactly the same revelation about being a full-time student:

(1) I will not be a [grad student] forever and (2) I had better make the most of it while I still am one.

Thus I've made time for exercise and creativity, even on days when I feel behind on schoolwork. In the end, you can only take so much of a single 'job' (student, in my case).

Scottie Mom said...

Brillant! I am going to implement your practice for the remainder of my "sabbatical" this year...especially now that I am finally UNPACKED!!!! I especially need the exercise part! ;-)

Scottie Mom said...

What do you do for "sort"?

Billie said...

Great post! Can you say organized!!! I know what you mean about getting in what you want to do. And yup, it's amazing that with all of this ahem, time, on my hands as a SAHM I get little accomplished most days. But making time for "me time" is KEY!!!

Billie said...

OK, how'd you email me from the comment section? I need to figure this out :-)