Place your bets

Butter had a fabulous first week of school. So did Peanut.

So I’ve crossed “worry incessantly about my children’s school-centered well being” off my list. (Don’t get too excited. I still have “worry incessantly about my children’s future” and “worry incessantly about my children’s intellectual, emotional, and physical development” on the list. It’s pre-pre-school, not magic.)

That means three times a week I have just under three hours in which to pursue other To-Do List items.

I could:

1. Tidy the house and declutter our lives.

2. Work on my book.

3. Read.

4. Work on my scholarly articles.

5. Tackle the long to-do list of boring but necessaries (e.g., pay bills, plan meals, research reasons to worry about things).

This bouquet of glittery kid-free time I’m giving myself is new territory—it has been years since I’ve had regular blocks of daylight hours alone without constraints.

So feel free to vote for your favorite, or place bets on what I’ll actually settle on.

Which of the Shoulds sound like something I should do?

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27 thoughts on “Place your bets

  1. Good question.

    For me, I have found that if the house isn’t semi straightened up first, then I can’t concentrate. That goes for returned phone calls, appts that need to be made, errands to run, and exercise in.

    I drop the kids off at 8:30 and do errands right away, about an hour. Then I come home and return any calls, about 10 mins. Then I do 1/2 hour walk and 1/2 hour stairs. Then I do breakfast dishes and make beds (about 20 mins.) All this and it’s not even 11 yet. I then pick kids up at 2:45.

    I have from 11 to about 3 to get some writing down.

    So, I would do a little bit of 1,2,4, and 5. Save #3 for bedtime.

    You have to read, to write.

    Can’t let that one go.

    • Thanks, kitten. I was thinking the writing can’t wait. But I leave sweet Peanut at 9:15 and have to start walking to get Butter at 12:00. So I have 2.5 hours after travel home. The book is written but needs a major reorganization, which I prefer to do in large chunks, not less than an hour. Maybe I should tidy then edit. The reading can be at night.

  2. I’m still trying to figure out what to do with myself. De-cluttering is cathartic, but I get easily overwhelmed. Exercise happens, but sometimes in the form of vigorous de-cluttering. Sometimes not. I vote for working on the book! Glad the two cherubs has great first weeks of school!

  3. Probably your book, if you want to do something personally rewarding. I would definitely work on my house if I had a few hours of time in a day. The state of it lately is really depressing to me. But that’s just me. For you, I suspect the book would be way better.

    • Kristin, your house is a whole different issue, given the projects underway. I totally understand how satisfying spending time on that would be.

      I am disturbed by all unfinished projects. I feel deep satisfaction making progress on anything, So technically I’d feel great just sorting and decluttering the house.

      But you can’t publish a clean house. I think I’ll tidy once the book is off to agents.

  4. wow. We just had our first day of preschool today and it seems I almost plagiarized some of your thoughts. I swear I just read this! Great minds! ;) I found that I had no idea what to do with those two hours and I still had one kid (which feels like an easy breezy day in the park, doesn’t it?) If you are like me, you can’t work unless the house is clean. But then again, creativity tends to get me excited and motivated to clean. So…I’m not very helpful, am I? Let me know what you decide by the end of the week.

    • I will go read your post for ideas.
      I prefer to clean when the kids are around, to teach them about such things and to make the day go faster. Feels wrong to spend free time on cleaning. Except it’s the perfect procrastination.

  5. Ah, the freedom. The sweet, so-short-it’s-over-ALREADY? freedom. Enjoy it.

    My suggestion? Do a half-hour of frantic cleaning/tidying a couple of days, then work on the writing. Save the last of the three days to do something fantastic.

    Gee, I’m a ton of help.

    • Kate! Glad the baby is dusting your blog, because I was thrilled to see a new post.

      Actually, you are helpful. I was thinking of ritualistically dividing the days, each in the same way. This revolutionary idea of making each day a bit (or a lot) different is rocking my world.

      And it’s just crazy enough to work.

  6. Enjoy the peace and quiet!

    You really should spend just one day baking cookies in the morning then curled up on the couch in the afternoon watching TV you can’t watch in front of the kids. That’s what I fantasize about! Do it for all of us chained to our cubicles!

    Someone who hasn’t been home alone in years :)

    • Good Enough

      YES! I just told Spouse the other day that my dream is to watch endless hours of television some day, all day, eating cheesy popcorn from a bag.

      One of the issues with forsaking my career to raise these people is I feel *intense* guilt over not contributing to society, doing “real” work, and making headway on my career in the few moments where nobody is bickering, throwing knives, or pulling boiling pots onto themselves.

      So I would love to chill for you, but I am consumed with the need to prove myself worthy.

      Someone who cannot embrace an investment interval at home without obsessively checking to make sure people know she’s capable of other kinds of work

        • Now that I know, however, I will invite you over on some National Holiday of Minor Import (so neither of us has to be at a big family gathering) on which you don’t have to be in your cube, I can hand the wee ones over to Spouse, and we can watch a television marathon of something truly enjoyable, like Top Chef or Project Runway or Hoarders. With the cheesy poofs. And perhaps an adult beverage.

  7. I recommend divvying up the three days into categories:

    – Taking in/Import
    * read, go to a museum/gallery, listen to music, pay attention to a specific thing

    – Producing/Export
    * write, draw, play music, create

    – Do nothing, or do something social
    * stare at a wall, get coffee or alcohol

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