Now I’m a parent, I have less free time than ever. But somehow, I manage to pack so much more into my day these days. And I’m far more aware of how little time I have left in this blessed life.
Having children is a continual reminder of time’s passing. They grow and change so quickly. Looking back through my photo journal, I see what a difference even a few weeks can make in a child’s life. Once I held them in my arms, next I’m dropping them off at pre-school. And as any mother knows, they’ll be all grown up in a heartbeat.
When I first became a parent, the time seemed to drag on. It seemed so long between the big milestones in my baby’s life. I was very worried about the future (how will I deal with the school years? What will I do when I have a house full of teenagers??). But my worries faded when I concentrated on doing the best I could in the present moment. I’m so glad my baby taught me how to live in the present like this. Now, a few years later, my children’s childhood is slipping through my fingers. It all seems to flash and fade before my eyes and I try to cling onto all the memories I can.
Life has become so busy since we started a family. We fill up every day with activity until, out of exhaustion, we force ourselves to have a weekend at home. And with babies and toddlers, while there is time at home, my time is not my own anymore. You operate on someone else’s schedule.
Life is full of such paradoxes. The mysterious way time works is one of them. We begin to understand it better only when we have run out of so much of it. Here are some of the things I have learned about time since becoming a mother:
The less time there is, the more I get done
Seeing how busy we are now, I often wonder what I did with my time before I had children. As a twenty-year old, I wasted so much time. I almost used to revel in systematically wasting time: sleeping in, staying too long in a job that was going nowhere, spending hours watching trash TV. Now, a decade later, I’m always trying to squeeze more into my day.
To get more done, schedule more in
I used to post to my blog twice a week, but that was when I had far less child-free time than I do now. I don’t know how I did it! More free time is not the answer; it’s more structured time that makes me more productive. So now, I’ve enrolled in a university course, set myself a weekly blogging schedule, and taken on a Project Life-style photography project. After a few months, it’s satisfying to see what I’ve been able to achieve.
It’s actually possible to profit from the passing of time, if you take on the right kind of projects. You know the saying, “if you do a little bit each day, in the long term you can get a lot done,”? Well, I’ve got a few projects going where the passage of time works in my favour:
- My one-sentence journal and weekly photo collage. Every day I write a few sentences, and at the end of every week I create a collage of the best photos of the week. Now after a few months, I’ve got a wonderful keepsake to look through. I have the whole year in my hand!
- My monthly photo collage for each child. I’ll share some of this in an upcoming post, but essentially, it’s a page of notes and a photo collage for each month of my children’s lives. I still have a few years to catch up on, but starting this project has helped ease the pain of my children’s babyhood passing.
- Using a Hobonichi Planner to build my French vocabulary. Each day, I take a few minutes to write some words in this day-per-page diary. At the end of the year, I hope my understanding of the language will be much better.
- Committing to a weekly blogging schedule. For me, it’s easier to blog once a week, on the same day, at the same time. If I were to publish a post only ‘when I have time’ I know I’d never update my blog. This way, I never need to ‘feel like’ blogging, I just have to do it. Now, after a year I have over a hundred posts, with only occasional breaks due to family illness and the like.
Recently, both my parents confessed to me on separate occasions: “you know Zoe, I might only have another ten good years left in me”. What a horrible thing to say! But they were right to tell me this. We are all running out of time. How many good years do I have left in me? It’s not since having children that I’ve begun to contemplate my own mortality in this way. Every time I think about it, I resolve to live a good life today, and not get distracted by the past or the future. This is but one of the blessings that my children have brought to my life.