Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Where Does All the Time Go?

Surprise. It’s Helen’s day to blog.

It’s on my calendar. I knew it was coming, but low and behold I’m unprepared. Life is too busy, you know?

My kids had Friday and Monday off school last weekend, a four day President’s Day holiday. I, on the other hand, don’t feel like I had any weekend at all. Between painting my daughter’s room, laundry, grocery shopping, and any number of household chores, the last four days are a blur. My house is a mess. I’m lucky if I cook three dinners a week and get the bills paid. Paperwork is piling up, stack after stack. After stack. I can’t keep up with it.

My mom had eight kids and helped my dad with bookkeeping at his business. She didn’t have a microwave, toaster oven, magic bullet blender, or Hamburger Helper. I remember helping her do the wash in an agitator tub and wringer. All the clothes went up on the line to dry. We did finally get an electric washer and dryer, but I was already in grade school. Cakes were generally made from scratch. We never went out to dinner. No cell phones, word processors, or frozen pizzas. Fast food? Try cold cereal and milk in a bowl.

Even so, my parents still found time to enjoy life. Friday nights were sacred to them. They went out dancing and goofing off with friends. I remember it was always Friday nights because I used to sneak watching Love American Style. Remember that show? What a hoot.

The point is, that even without all the gadgets and time saving devices, my parents seemed to find time to get out and relax. Here I am with all the modern conveniences and I can’t find the time to catch a movie at the theater or read a book.

Tell me, what am I doing wrong? Anyone willing to share tips for an organized less harried life?

Don't forget to come back and visit this Saturday, 2/24, with Nancy Warren. She's just back from signing her most recent release, SPEED DATING, with NASCAR driver Carl Edwards at the Daytona 500. Check out this article about Nancy and Harlequin's new series in the NYTs.

And I'm blogging with Michelle Buonfiglio at, on Monday, 2/26. Please stop in and visit.


Betina Krahn said...

Oh, Helen. Probably won't be much help here, girl. The less I have to do, the less I get done. And these days, I seem to be moving in slow motion.

But I really think it is all about attitude. If you think you're busy and harried, you are. And if you think chaos is kinda part of the fun, then it is.

A crowded mind makes everything seem crowded. So make some mental-emotional space for yourself and defend it to the death. And then choose some time to do the things you find MOST VALUABLE and IMPORTANT. . . and do them no matter if the bloomin' house falls down or the Health Department cites you for inhuman conditions.

Oh, and some of the whirl slows down as the kids graduate and leave home. . . so be thankful for the madness. It'll seem precious when it's gone.

Helen Brenna said...

Thanks, Betina. Normally, I get the whole priority thing, but the concept of attitude is something I needed to hear. You're absolutely right.

My house isn't a mess. It's in glorious disarray!

And my oldest is graduating from high school this spring. My world will change all too soon.

Christie Ridgway said...

My husband told me last night that if we didn't have children we wouldn't be up in our bedroom folding masses of laundry but would instead be in downtown San Diego at the Mardi Gras festivities. So I blame my glorious disarray (or messy chaos) on those creatures we decided to bring into the world.

Then I remember how much joy they've shared with us...those Santa moments, Disneyland, the expression on their faces when they were wearing a great Halloween costume. So I'm willing to wait for peace (and Mardi Gras beads) to show up in my life.

Helen Brenna said...

It is important to remember those special times, you're right, Christie. I love looking through old photo albums or watching family movies. Helps with perspective.

Debra Dixon said...

Personally I have too many careers and too many hobbies. I want to do everything. And unfortunately none of those interests include home-making, decorating or landscaping.

All of that is "work" for me. Hate it. I frequently think, wouldn't it have been nice if I were interested in decorating. Or gardening? ::sigh::

I do watch television and movies but I always have to have some sort of handwork or other work. Last night I stuffed 1099 envelopes (yes they were a bit late going out!)

The only way I survive is multi-tasking.

Helen Brenna said...

Deb, why do I have this feeling you're much better at mult-tasking than me? LOL!

Michele said...

I believe one should learn to be at peace with the dust in their house. :-) One woman's dirty is another woman's good-enough-for-another-week. I came from a house where my mother was constantly cleaning and everything was always 'just so'. SHe didn't just decorate with pictures on the wall, it was all carefully planned 'arrangements'.
I may be reacting to her obsessiveness by doing the complete opposite in my own life. Laundry piles up, floors go unswept, and the bathtub can go another week before I break out the scrub brush, but no one's died yet, so I give myself marks for that.


Debra Dixon said...

Helen-- I'm a multi-tasker but I'm also at peace with the dust in my house. :) That helps. Plus the kid has a place of his own now and that makes a huge difference in the "things that must be done." :) I don't have to be perceived as productive so that I set a good example anymore. (g)

Helen Brenna said...

Michele, I hear ya. My mom was no where near a clean freak, not with 8 kids. I think if I had time I would be!

I'm not so sure I'm setting such a good example, Deb, though I try.

Kathleen Eagle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kathleen Eagle said...

I'm not good at multi-tasking--worse as I get older. I'm more--well, here's a line from M*A*S*H* that I identified with the minute I heard it, which is probably why I can quote it verbatim:
"I do one thing at a time, I do it very well, and then I move on."
Anyone remember this character? (Candace wins the Golden Helicopter for correctly completing my last MASH quotation.)

And like the mystery character, I'm not so good in the kitchen when everything's boiling over. I'm probably too much of a throwback to simpler times to be a good multi-tasker.

So I have to school myself to "pick my battles." I know I manage time best when I make lists and check things off as I get them done. I enjoy the sense of accomplishment. Trouble is, I fall off the list wagon quite regularly.

Ergo, I try to do the thing that promises the most impact. Clean the bathrooms and the kitchen and you have a clean house, right?

It's like if you only have time to put on one bit of makeup before you go out, what do you choose? For me it's probably mascara unless I'll be outside and wearing sunglasses. Then, hmm...lipstick, I guess, although eyebrow pencil seems to make more of a difference than it used to. How about you?

Cindy Gerard said...

I don't have little ones at home and I still find myself struggling to get everything done or getting to some of those fun things I should have time to do. Most of the time, my hubby and I agree - it's not the distance TO and event or an evening out, it's the distance from the couch to the car that keeps us mired in our rut. We get so comfy in the evenings it's just too much effort to go out. Lord. I think that officially makes me old :o(
Interesting spot this morning on the Today Show. They took away a family of 6's appliances for a week. ALL appliances. Their biggest surprise during the week long experiment wasn't that they missed the TV or the computer (they did but it was doable and they enjoyed the creative outlets they found together) it was the washer and dryer that really got to everyone. The mom said she has an entire new outlook on the concept of 'time savers' and vowed to never again take the marvels of a washing machine for granted :o)
In another experiment, a business man was to go a week without his cell, his blackberry and e-mail. He lasted 40 hours and was a mess by the time they gave them back. We are slaves to technology and sometimes I think that instead of saving time, it actually occupies more.
Okay. I'm rambling. that's because I was shopping all day and cut off from my e-mail so I needed to make up for lost time at the keyboard :o)

Helen Brenna said...

I agree, Kathy, clean bathrooms and kitchen make for a clean house. And I like lists too. In writing that's hard. I don't make lists for this job.

Cindy, you make a good point. All these labor saving devices do save us time, but rather than relaxing, we're cramming more in. Always feeling frazzled.