Time (by )

As I often complain to those around me, I'm a very busy person. I'm the only driver in a family of five (myself, Sarah (who has medical issues), Jean, Mary and Sarah's mother (who has medical issues)), and I have a 9-5:30 job (well, as I take a lunch hour AND an hour to pick Mary up from school it takes from 9-6:30 instead), so there's plenty of demands on my time.

For most of my year, my weekdays look like this:

  1. Alarm goes off at 6:30am. Get up at 7am, start getting Mary up and ready for school, get myself ready.
  2. Leave the house at 8am, drive Mary to school.
  3. School opens up at 8:30amish, when I can drop Mary off and go home.
  4. 9am: Start work.
  5. At some point: lunch hour, making lunch for Sarah and I, eating it, possibly a few little household chores.
  6. At 2:45pm, set off to pick Mary up from school.
  7. 3:40pmish: Return from the school run.
  8. If it's a Monday or Wednesday: Finish work at 6:30pm, clean kitchen from lunch and everyone's breakfasts and snacks they've made themselves, make dinner, eat dinner, get Mary to bed; finish around 8:30-9pm.
  9. If it's a Tuesday: Finish work at 6:15pm, take kids to Ju Jitsu, do shopping while they're there, take them home, then do the same as on Mondays except making a quicker (less nice) dinner and finishing at 9pm or later.
  10. If it's a Thursday: finish work at 6:30pm, assess tiredness levels; if not too tired, head out to Cheltenham Hackspace, leaving Sarah and the kids to feed themselves, get home around 9:30pm.
  11. If it's a Friday: finish work at 6:30pm, head out with Jean and her friend to run her Explorer Scout group, get home at 9:30pm.
  12. In theory, to get eight hours' sleep, I need to be asleep around 10:30pm, so I try to go to bed at 9:30pmish; I'm often late to bed, and often can't sleep as my mind is brimming with thoughts and stresses.

Weekends involve Mary's dance class from 9am-11am on Saturdays and a climbing session for the kids on Sunday afternoon, and of course making lunch and dinner for us all, and between those two there's usually some mixture of:

  1. Shopping, housework, that sort of stuff.
  2. An event Sarah's involved in that I need to do some combination of drive her to/from, help out at, and look after the kids while she's busy.
  3. An event the kids are involved in that requires them being taken to/from and possibly staying at.

In the gaps between the above and sleeping, I need to find time to:

  • Have showers
  • Do laundry
  • Tidy the house and/or chase the kids to tidy
  • Help kids with homework
  • Do normal household admin (pay bills, renew insurance, organise MOTs, that sort of thing)

In practice, I think I get 2-3 afternoons off (defined as: there isn't something specific I need to be doing or somebody asking me to do something for them right then, so I can choose what I'm going to do) a month on average.

What I'd like to do:

  • Work on my workshop: I have a fun plan to build myself an amazing custom desk/shelving setup that will give me space to store a lot of stuff that's in piles of boxes on the floor, and make this a more comfortable place to work in, and I need to finish building my workshop management system (12v power distribution for lighting, raspberry pi to monitor sensors and play music and make announcements with speakd and control the lights, etc).
  • Do fun things with my family.
  • Set up radio stuff and mess around with it.
  • Work on the Snell-Pym Family Mainframe - including writing a long-overdue blog post about it!
  • Work on my open source projects - I have great plans for Ugarit, and I'm rewriting my "Eye of Horus" system monitoring/alerting/metrics/observability system into something totally awesome.
  • Practice Morse code and Lojban and welding and various other little things I'm trying to learn.
  • Start doing Krav Maga again!
  • Improve my resin-casting setup.
  • Read more books.
  • Visit friends and extended family.
  • Write more blog posts.
  • Write fiction.
  • Work on my MMORPG game.

School holidays are great. Not having to do those two one-hour school runs every day gives me back ten hours a week alone, and the kids' clubs also stop, which adds up to another nine or so hours. Not having to wake up at 6:30am - I work from home so can get up at 8:30am - means I'm less tired to begin with, too, although it takes me a few weeks of not having to wake up at 6:30am before I stop automatically waking up at 6:30am!

However, when I get a free moment, I just feel... tired, and have no enthusiasm for anything. I tend to just slump in a chair and watch Youtube videos of people doing the things I'd like to do, until I run out of time. Unless I can awaken The Enthusiasm, I rarely have the energy to do much. This tends to leave me feeling guilty, as there's a lot of tasks on my TODO list that hang over me, and I feel I need to get them out of the way before I can work on "fun" stuff. Sometimes I have no choice; at the time of writing, my workbench in the workshop is taken up with a partly-built set of shelves for the living room, and I can't do much else until they're done and installed.

The guilt is a real pain. Logically, I know it's healthy to have some time off, and that resting and reading and passive media consumption and just chatting with my family is important for my self-care so should be the top thing on my TODO list after a few weeks of constant pressure - but I still feel guilt. Which depresses me and kills The Enthusiasm and makes the problem worse...

Usually, it takes me a week of no school runs and normal work, or two or three days off nothing, to get beyond that point and start to perk up. This means that, mainly, the school summer holiday is my best time.

Last summer, for the first week and a half I wasn't very productive; as before, I just sagged in my new-found free time. Enthusiasm for my projects started to pick up at that point, and I did some good work on the Eye of Horus, and started to have the energy for Morse practice again. I also had time to go for walks with Sarah and the kids a bit.

There's talk of school closures for a few weeks coming up to slow the spread of COVID-19; I will still be working as usual (I work from home) so it will be like a small summer holiday - which might be good for my TODO list, at least! But I suspect they'll be taken out of the normal summer holiday to prevent the kids' education from being affected in the long term... We'll see.

Update 2020-03-18 (2020-W12-03 for you ISO weekdate fans)

So, the schools aren't closed, but Sarah has a cough and a fever, and Mary has a cough, so under current guidance we're all to self-isolate for 14 days. I'm still working (I work from home anyway) so my weekday schedule now looks like this:

  1. 8am: Alarm goes off
  2. 9am: Get up, see if Sarah is OK and if she needs anything (she's isolated in a separate room).
  3. 9:30am: Start work
  4. Noon: Break for lunch, housework, sorting out things Sarah needs. Making lunch is a bit more involved than before, as we're trying to cook things from storecupboard food and ration out the "easy" stuff. Food is brought to Sarah and dirty plates collected after.
  5. 2pm: Back to work
  6. 6:30pm: Finish work, make dinner, eat dinner (again, take some to Sarah and bring it back later).
  7. 9pm: Relax for a bit
  8. 10pm: Bed

So I'm not getting much more relax-time in the week, but I am getting enough sleep, which is fantastic. I'm being a bit less productive at work, as I have a fair few interruptions from the family needing my help with stuff through the day and I'm distracting myself with worrying about stuff, but I'm still getting plenty done.

I've had one weekend so far - I mainly spent it being exhausted and not achieving much, as usual, but I'm quietly hopeful that will improve next weekend as I've been having enough sleep for a week!

1 Comment

  • By @ndy, Mon 16th Mar 2020 @ 2:09 pm

    I feel your pain!

    I really only get time for one project a year, if I'm lucky.

    It'd be good to see you guys tho'. When you have a free weekend perhaps I could come around and we could build those shelves and desks for the workshop?

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