The Scheduler

June 30, 2010

I was going to call this post The Boob Clock, but I hesitated because that title might just make it a bit difficult for the reader to understand my point. Because my point is that a part of how I manage to squeeze in time for running nearly every day is that I run a pretty tight ship.  (I can hear my husband snickering now.)  I intentionally schedule nearly every minute of my day, as well as my children’s day, and, to a point, my ever-patient husband’s day.

It wasn’t always like this, but as the family dynamic changed and I had to “keep on keepin’ on” even when more and more got added to the proverbial plate, it just became essential to decide what was most important to do regularly, and then, to make sure it happened, plan out in a consistent and predictable way how to get it done.

A part of the way I had to establish this schedule was driven by my choice to breastfeed my children.  Eating, for babies and for young children, happens regularly, predictably, and more or less on some kind of schedule — equivalent, more or less, to the size of their tiny tummies.  I breastfed my kids, in order, for 18 , 14, and 14 months (and counting.)

Doing a quick math problem shows me that I’ve spent 46 months of the past 6 1/2 years stopping whatever I was doing approximately every four hours to connect with either a baby or a breast pump.  I’m sure it doesn’t take an extremely vivid imagination to realize that going for a bit of exercise is more comfortable if done soon after this.  And from there, the rest of my day started filling in by little chunks:  the meetings, the errands, the appointments, and so on.  It came on gradually, and now it’s very second nature and practically an unconscious way of life.

I think, in a way, the other very second nature part of my mindset is that I know every day when I wake up that at some point I will exercise.  I’m running right away in the morning for now, but for the past year, I had to make sure it happened at some point during the day.  I know I’m fortunate in that for my job, I was able to “float” my lunch hour to a convenient time, and that became my running time.  (I also know that I benefit from several other perks that make fitness pretty darn convenient.  I have a private office, so my “lactation breaks” were also times to catch up on emails or phone calls.  My building has a small locker room where I can use a locker and a shower.  I’m a 10 minute walk (an indoor walk, mind you, through the hospital) from the Fieldhouse, so I can run on the track in inclement weather.  And, probably most importantly, my patient husband knows that getting a run in on the weekends is very important to Mommy’s mental health, and he plans to be home with the kids while I get out there — he goes so far to ask me what time I plan to run, so that he schedules his own plans around this time.  Lucky me.)

What if you’re interested in making this happen, and you don’t know how you’ll ever find the time?  I really don’t know.  I guess it starts with looking at what you do make time for, and what you don’t make time for and deciding if it matches your priorities.  What about if you don’t have running strollers and locker rooms and lunch hours?  I’m going to think about this, and see if I have some ideas to offer.  I’m not bragging, I’m really not, but I also know that even though I work a little more than full-time outside the home, that I have the lion’s share of the management of our three young children at home, and that I just completed another master’s degree, I still make the time for fitness.  I promise, I’ll soon give you the list of what I don’t make time for, because I think that is only fair.  (Some things on THAT list are pretty darn embarrassing.)

In the meantime, I feel I need to say that one important reason I can make time for fitness is because I make time for fitness.  I’m not trying to be clever, so let me try it again.  My days are quite long.  They take stamina, they take endurance, and they take a bit of stubbornness to survive — and some days, when “life” happens, it takes more than just stamina.  (And then, some days, I do see that it’s time to cut my losses and surrender.  “Tomorrow is another day.”)  So by being in fairly good shape, by being strong physically, I think I am also getting stronger psychologically.  The fitness is kind of its own reward.

I think there is more to say.  But for now, my boob clock is going off.  4 hours go by fast!

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