I am grateful this group exists. It gives me much needed perspective on what other mothers have to cope with and many times pulls me out of my own pity party. As much as I would like for my life to be different, it could be a whole lot worse. All this being said, one of my frustrations with the group is that it is not limited to women who work full time outside the home. Now I don't want to say that mothers who work part time or who work at home are not busy or don't need support. I don't believe that at all. It's just that working full time outside the home is an entirely different ball of wax and many of these threads consist of the two groups talking past each other. So yesterday's thread had a mother who works full time outside the home (works at work mother--WAWM) asking if anyone makes time for exercise. Her particular issue is that she does not want to spend even more time away from her family and having an exercise routine would demand it. I am completely sympathetic to the problem.
I am the poster child of the sedentary lifestyle. I commute over two hours a day. I sit in my office chair up to nine hours a day. We try to have lingering family dinners to reconnect in the evening which usually means another hour of sitting. I nurse the baby which is more sitting. Less now that she is older, but as a young infant, I might spend another hour or two in the evening nursing. Sitting. I do a lot of sitting and it concerns me.
I am well aware of the long term health implications of all the sitting I do. I would like to get regular exercise. I would like for physical movement to be more a part of my regular life, but for now it isn't. The reason isn't because I'm lazy (although I am) or because I need to manage my time better or rearrange my priorities or anything that can be fixed. The reason I do not exercise more is because regular exercise would require me to be away from my family more than I already am.
I am usually gone about eleven hours a day and I have about three hours in the evening to spend with my children. In those three hours we eat supper, clean up, do homework, take baths, and get ready for bed. Deviating from the schedule is problematic. I am not under the impression that these hours are "quality time" because, mostly, they are not, but it is time. So if during the regular work week I can expect to spend about fifteen hours with my children, the thought of reducing that time by 3 to 4 hours is not very appealing. Am I willing to give up 25% of my limited time with my children to exercise? Right now the answer is no. It isn't a very satisfying answer. I know that in 20-30 years I might regret sacrificing my long term health, but I also know I will regret sacrificing more of my children's childhood right now.
It is a topic I have thought long and hard about. So back to the thread. Several women jumped in to commiserate and joke about how sedentary we all are. Then several work at home mothers (WAHM)
began to talk about their exercise routines and how they fit them into their day. This was so, so frustrating. If it had just been that they wrote about themselves, it wouldn't have bothered me, but many of them decided they could help us and started giving advice. The runners began to explain how they get up early before the children are awake to go running and how we could just get up early and go running.
When do they go running exactly? Why when the sun comes up! Great, except I'm driving to work when the sun comes up. For me to go running in the morning before work, I would have to get up at 4 or 430 in the morning and run in the pitch black dead of night. My evening schedule would be compressed more than it already is because I would need to get in bed at least an hour before I do, pushing my shower time to before the children go to bed. If I were a morning person, this schedule *might* be workable, but I am not so it really isn't.
The thread continued with more advice about time management and arranging priorities and I could feel myself getting more and more agitated. Finally someone started talking about a blogger who writes a lot about time management. She, the WAHM, said she had gleaned a lot of information from this person and she really recommended her for helping everyone manage their own time. She posted the link and I clicked over. I immediately saw it was written by a stay-at-home homeschooling mother and had to quell my irritation.
Now you all know, or should know, that I love stay-at-home homeschooling mothers. Perhaps, one fine day, I will be one too. I think they are busy; they do work; they have one of the most important jobs there is to do. But. But. The time issue is just not the same. It's not. They have flexibility in their time that WAWMs just do not have.
I thought to myself it wasn't fair to write off her advice solely for who she is so I continued reading. Her first point was to prioritize sleep. I can agree with that. I definitely have found that I need a certain minimum of sleep or my productivity declines rapidly.
Her second point was to "Deduct at least two hours for 'Margin Time.'" That's when my head exploded! I have three hours a day at my disposal and I am supposed to deduct two so I have time for the unexpected. I guess that explains why I get nothing done ever. In my frustration, I went back over to the thread and explained my situation in fuller detail. That I don't have a two hour margin. My choices are either to sleep or to do something else and not sleep and that's it.
I am not detracting from the blogger's advice because I am sure it is very useful to those who have the latitude to implement it, but that's not me. And it is not most mothers who are full time WAWMs. We are not in charge of our schedules. Honestly most of us are barely surviving. We are well aware of how much we don't do, of how much we miss, and to even have the group that is supposed to understand exactly what it is like and support us filled with people giving us time management advice is irking.
I was talking to Literacy-chic over private messenger so she could talk me off the ledge. She made an excellent and succinct point:
WAHMs have "time management" problems. WAWMs have TIME problems.And that's it in a nutshell. I prioritize sleep, I try to enjoy my children as much as I can, and I prioritize all other important and necessary tasks. Of those important and necessary tasks, exercise being one, many just don't get done. Not because I don't know they are important, not because my priorities are out of order, not because I don't want to do them, not because I don't know this one neat trick to make my schedule work, but because the time isn't there to manage.