Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Carving Out Free Time

Last year for the first time ever, my kids chose to go to public school rather than to homeschool.  Knowing that their lives were about to get really busy, I decided to dive into work about six months before they started school last year.  Rather than teaching the two classes I had been teaching for some time, I took on four classes and six private tutoring students.  Yikes!!!   Let's just say I overdid it a little bit.  No, let's say I overdid it a lot considering all the other changes that were happening in our lives with school.  After eighteen months of this schedule, I have learned my lesson.  This school year I have four classes again, but only  two private tutoring students which opens up my schedule a lot.  I now have two and a half complete days off during the week.  (I teach three classes on Tuesday and Thursday and one on Saturdays.)

What I didn't do last year which I now see I really needed to do was allow myself to enjoy some time alone. Always being a homeschooling momma, I have never really had much time in the house alone or even time alone.  Truth be told though I never craved it that much.  I really enjoyed my time home with the kids and would repeat it all again in a heartbeat.  However, having the house all to myself the last month has been a delightful surprise.  For five hours (my son goes to high school part-time) there are no expectations.  No noise.  Nothing.  I can do whatever I want.  I can think whatever I want.  I can watch whatever I want. I  LOVE it! In fact, when these days are interrupted with appointments, I feel ripped off.

I am a hard worker, but I have never been a workaholic and I am happy about that.  I have always been pretty good about carving out down time or lazy time.  However, with the added work that came with very wacky hours, I had to learn to schedule time into my day to be lazy.  I think as mothers, workers, rheumatoid arthritis folks, and people in general, we owe it to ourselves to find time in every day to do something we enjoy.  Here's how I make it work for me.

1.  I schedule everything - morning walk and workout, house cleaning, school work, SUYH! projects, family time, and even my free time.  When I keep my schedule, I find that there is plenty of time for everything. When I don't follow the schedule, I waste time and then feel rushed and anxious.

2.  My free time is to be spent however I feel I want to spend it and never feel guilty.  Currently, that means making coffee (we will see how long this lasts as they effects have not been positive),watching Frasier on Netflix or reading the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy.

3.  I continue to walk.  It relaxes my mind and keeps me centered.  Walks give me a chance to see nature (even in a suburban neighborhood we have coyotes, skunks, deer, rabbits, chipmunks, and squirrels among lots of beautiful trees and plants).  I take time to stop and watch ants scurry around, squirrels chase each other up tress, and my favorite - watch the sun rise.  This summer I have been collecting things I find in nature that make me happy. Here is one day's find:

4.  I set limits for myself.  If my week is really busy, I claim Sunday as a no driving day.  This allows me uninterrupted time to work in the yard, to read a book, to talk with family, or to do absolutely nothing.

5.  Turn off the computer. When I am on a lot,I tend to waste my time.  I think I will research one thing and then two hours later I am still there.  I have now set up consequences for being on the computer outside of my scheduled time.  Every time I get on, I have to do some type of exercise afterwards:  push-ups, sit-ups, lunges, dead lifts, etc.

6.  Two days a week I have 1.5 hours of downtime before heading back out to teach an evening class.  During this time I make dinner, enjoy the dinner at the table with my family, and if possible, sneak in a hot bath or a few minutes of reading.

How do you carve out time for free time and what do you do?