Archive for September, 2010
I usually really like business trips. I like to go to new places, I love it when a trip allows me to meet an old friend or a family member that I don’t usually get to see, and I enjoy the time alone. While I know all too well the difficulties a trip can pose – both at home and at the office – I’ve always had a positive attitude about them. This helps not only me, but also my family.
But I have a trip coming up that I must admit, I’m not looking forward to. There’s a lot going on with my family right now and I don’t want to be far away from them, yet this trip is to Singapore and Indonesia. The thought of being more than a day away if I have to get back in a hurry is stabbing me in the heart – constantly.
So how do I wrap my head around this and leave my kids and officemates blissfully unaware of any emotional struggle I may be facing? It’s not easy. Here’s what I’ve done so far – any suggestion are more than welcome!
1. Establishing my support system – I’m flying my parents in from out of town to help my husband take care of the kids. My trip is a 10 day trip and we’re in a new town as of August and don’t have the babysitters lined up that I could confidently rely on. Most importantly, as one of my kids needs special care at the moment, I felt it was just too much to put all this on hubbie’s shoulders, even if he could handle it.
2. Researching activities that will be fun for the family to do while I’m gone. I’m also going ahead and purchasing the tickets, getting it on the Outlook calendar, even printing out directions so that getting to these activities will be easy, and more likely to happen. I know it’s a bit overboard, but it makes me feel good to do so.
3. Setting the expectation with the office that I will have limited availability. I’m not planning on working all day, having late night evenings with the team I’m visiting, and then getting back online at 11 PM or Midnight to answer emails. I’ve done that before, and it’s not pretty! Instead, I plan to use this time to work hard, but also rest as much as I can so I don’t get run down.
4. Shortly before the trip, I’ll share with my 7 yr old where I’m going and a little about the cultures of each place. My 3 year old will be confused, but I’ll do my best to stay connected to him while I’m gone. Here are some tips I’ll be utilizing to keep that connection close.
What else am I missing? While I think I’ve got most of my bases covered, if you have any additional ideas for how to prepare, or on how to get my head/heart in the game and not worry so much, please share!
Yesterday I had a chance to tell my 7 yr old the story of Dick and Rick Hoyt, the amazing Father/Son team that has been running Boston Marathon’s, among other races, for years. It’s a story that has always grabbed my attention and my heart. What I found, though, is that I got so choked up trying to tell my daughter the story that I couldn’t continue! Of course, all it went straight over her head and she just wrote it off as “mom being weird”. She sees this kind of emotion from me whenever a movie, or even a commercial, really hits at the core of what’s important to me. And believe me, there’s nothing more important to me than my kids. That’s why I am full of awe and admiration when it comes to the Hoyts. Would I do the same, if our situations were reversed? I would like to think to so. I hope so. But one can never know until faced with the same daunting challenges.
What about you? Are there other families, like the Hoyts, who you admire and can share their stories here? Or, more simply, do you find yourself amazed at how a movie, book, or even sappy commercial can sometimes move you to tears?
Check this out. A new book, blog, and challenge by Laura Vanderkam, the author of 168 hours: You have more time than you think. I shudder at the thought of taking on another thing to do, like a time log, yet the promised benefit is soooo compelling. Oh why must we have just 24 hours in a day?!
Her latest blog post (below) was particularly powerful for me as I realized last Sunday, as I was feeling a bit run down and asked my husband to take the kids out of the house for awhile, that I simply could not relax. In order to allow myself to sit on the couch and watch a movie, I had to sit and fold the laundry at the same time. Otherwise, I felt guilty that my husband was out with the kids and I was just sitting on my rear, not taking advantage of the time. I knew it was nonsense at the time, and yet, I couldn’t stop.
I am very inspired by the idea, below, of scheduling time to sit in a coffee shop. How I love to do that, yet never do. Can I actually make that happen?
…the reality is that if you want to enjoy hours of indolence as a parent, you’re going to have to understand your schedule very well, and then schedule them in. You are going to have to create space for indolence, because otherwise it will simply get buried under the joys and needs of small children, under the demands and triumphs of making a living, or it will steal away in the arms of (as Keats writes in his poem) “Love, Ambition and that demon Poesy.”
How do you create this space? For me, it’s a two step approach. This week, I’m keeping a log of my time. I find that by understanding exactly how I spend the 168 hours we all have each week, I can start to see where I do have space for daydreaming. And then, I can start to honor this time rather than just checking email, picking up the toy flotsam (loved that phrase from The Happiness Project) that floats through our living areas or reading the Pottery Barn catalog. In The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron talks of setting artist’s dates, and there’s something to this. I carved out an hour this morning to run outside (which I find relaxing). Some weekday afternoons, I block out an hour to sit in a coffee shop and jot down thoughts. If my husband takes the kids on a Saturday afternoon, I resist the urge to clean the house, and instead work on cleaning out the cobwebs in my head. I don’t think these activities are an unproductive use of my time, because I log my time and I know I’m spending plenty of hours interacting with my kids and working on more concrete projects.
But it is because I know where my time is going that I’m able to have lethargic, joyfully indolent hours. An “Ode to a Time Log” may not sound as enticing as an ode on indolence, but there is great freedom in logging time in our distracted age. Being aware of our time helps to create “evenings steep’d in honied indolence” to quote Keats, and time to lie “cool-bedded in the flowery grass.”
What do you think of time log idea? Are you going to do it? Do you have TIME to do it? It seems to me that we all better make that time, before we either go crazy, burn out, or get really, really sick. Your thoughts?