(First published in Le News edition 12, 30 January – 5 February 2014)
According to www.death-clock.org, I’m going to live to be 79, that being the average life expectancy for a non-smoking woman with my Body Mass Index, living in Switzerland and drinking (ahem) two units of alcohol a week.
Some people may think this kind of thing is morbid but I find it incentivising. ‘Goodness me,’ I thought (or words to that effect). ‘Only 13 000 days left to make my mark on the world. I need to get my act together because my novel isn’t going to write itself, now is it?’ (But … might it, actually? No, of course not. I knew that.)
So, to that end, I sat down last week to create a time management pie chart. I struggle to get excited about anything called a ‘chart’ but pie is very nice, so it worked well. I started by listing everything I need to do each week and the time it all takes, so I could allocate it a slice of the Time Pie. It makes for pretty disturbing reading, I can tell you. For example:
- General housewife stuff: carting children around, cleaning the house, picking the same damn clothes up off the same damn floor. Every. Single. Day. 22 hours a week.
- Planning for, shopping and cooking meals that are a) balanced, b) nutritious on a macro and micro level, c) tasty, d) appealing to everyone in the house, using food that is seasonal, local and affordable. Cannot contain trans fats, salt, sugar or anything identifiable as a vegetable. 12 hours.
- Skiing lessons. 1 1/2 hours. This includes the one hour lesson and the thirty minutes spent sitting in the car afterwards, waiting until my shattered nerves are steady enough to drive home.
- French lessons and real world practice. 7 hours. ‘Real world practice’ refers to the frequent pantomiming that I have to do in front of shop assistants because, although my French lessons are helping me with greetings and introductions, I haven’t yet learned how to say things like, ‘Do you have an ointment for head lice and is it safe for four year olds?’.
- Organising children’s swimming lessons, skiing lessons and playdates. Overseeing their free play, which may sound free but which absolutely must include gross and fine motor co ordination activities, pushing and pulling actions, lifting, messy play, climbing and balancing. Interminable.
- Overseeing homework. Reading with the bigger child. Doing pre-reading activities with the smaller one. Playing board games together to develop maths skills. Baking together to develop science skills. Hosing down house after science skills have been developed quite enough for one day. Time without end.
Also to be factored in:
- Quality time spent with a) children, b) husband c) cat d) guinea pigs e) alone, locked in the bedroom, shrieking, ‘what more do you want from me?’ every time someone knocks on the door.
- Sightseeing. We live in this beautiful place and I don’t want our only memory of it to be the A1 and the school parking lot.
Well, it took some work – I had to supersize my pie chart three times and subdivide the slices – but I finally have something I think I can work with. No activity can last longer than ten minutes and I’ve had to cut back to three hour’s sleep a night, but everything is fitted in there.
Success is just around the corner.