John Lennon once said, ‘Time you enjoy wasting was not wasted’. I don’t know when he said it or the circumstances that he said it in; whether it’s one of his lyrics or something he said. But I don’t really care where it comes from – it’s a view I subscribe to.
Today I wasted time. I really did.
I had a lot I wanted to do this weekend, most notably clear up the piles of clothes on my bedroom floor that have sat there, unsorted, since we put the new wardrobes in after Xmas.
I also had to find the power cord to an air cooler that we’re hoping to sell at a garage sale, but without the cord it will be useless. I had this niggling feeling I’d thrown it out in one of my decluttering frenzies (these are few and far between).
So with all this stuff to do and, with the memories of recently viewing ‘The years are short movie’ fresh in my mind, also wanting to spend some quality time with juniordwarf, what did I do?
I slept in (or, as sleeping in with a young child is not normally possible, I stayed in bed late). I stayed in my PJs until after midday. I fiddled with my blog unnecessarily. I posted photos. I read other people’s blogs, I tweeted, I facebooked (if that’s actually a word).
This is all stuff I love doing. I enjoy it. It’s not wasting time.
But all the time I felt guilty. juniordwarf was happy doing his thing, and I kept taking breaks to spend time with him. We listened to music, we built towers, we looked at photos and we discussed Captain Janeway’s hairstyle.
But I still felt guilty. The pile of clothes continued to haunt me. I felt like I was leaving juniordwarf to entertain himself too much, I was spending far too much time in front of the computer, and I had no idea where the bloody cord was. The more I thought about it, the more convinced I was it had been tossed out with a pile of other superfluous cords.
I felt like I was wasting time. And because I felt guilty, I wasn’t enjoying the time I was ‘wasting’, so it really was wasted time.
Part of a Happiness Project
is to make resolutions
. Not vague resolutions of the New Year’s variety that you stick to for a week and then give up, but a
commitment to concrete, measurable actions
The Resolutions tool is the most important tool in the Happiness Project Toolbox. It allows you to commit to a resolution in writing and to track your progress. Frequently reviewing your resolutions keeps them uppermost in your mind, and scoring yourself gives you visible feedback. One suggestion: by framing a resolution as a concrete action (“Rent a movie once a week”) instead of an abstract goal (“Have more fun”) and by holding yourself accountable, you’re more likely to make progress.
The basic tool to achieve this is a chart for each month (I love charts!) where you record each resolution for that month, and tick off each day (or fill in a square, or however you do it) if you’ve kept the resolution for that day.
I realised that there are days I spend a little too much time on the computer doing stuff that’s enjoyable, but not essential, at the expense of spending time with juniordwarf or doing things that really need to be done (the pile of clothes continues to spring to mind).
I wanted to minimise this as much as possible, so my original resolution was to not turn the computer on during the days I’m at home with him (a ‘concrete action’).
However, I quickly figured out that this wasn’t a realistic resolution. Some days I’d need to turn it on to write a letter (yes, sometimes I write letters, especially to places like banks and Centrelink, but as my handwriting is so bad, they have to be typed in order to be understood), check email, or whatever. Sometimes I’d want to grab a few moments of ‘me’ time and hang out online.
I don’t have a problem doing that. I need ‘me’ time – everyone does – but I do have a problem with the fact that I find it too easy to go on the computer for one thing, then get distracted by other things online, chatting with people, following links, looking at photos, and before I know it, an hour has passed.
I don’t want to look back on juniordwarf’s childhood and remember it in terms of time I spent on the computer. I want to remember things we did together, fun we had, stuff we both learned. I want to be fully present with him for the time that I’m with him. Yes he needs to be able to entertain himself, but he needs time with me too. I don’t want him to look back and remember his Mum as someone who spent her life in front of a computer screen.
I can’t be fully present with him if I’m doing computer stuff.
So in a long-winded way, that’s why I feel like I wasted time today. Sure I got some computer stuff done that was nagging me, and I also had fun with my boy. But I could have had a whole lot more fun. And most, if not all, of the computer stuff could have waited till later.
After all of that, I think a more realistic resolution is to maintain a balance between doing things that have to be done, making time for myself during the day doing things I want to do without feeling guilty, and being an engaged parent.
The balance will be different every day. Some days juniordwarf might prefer his own company more than mine for a lot of the day – and that’s fine. Other days he might want to spend a whole lot more time with me – and that’s great. I’ll have to rely on my own feelings about whether I’ve achieved the balance each day – it’s not something I can measure. It’s not a ‘concrete action’, so it’s probably not a ‘true’ resolution. But I hope it will work for me.
Today the balance I wanted to achieve wasn’t there. So there’s no tick in today’s resolution box. But tomorrow is another day. And I resolve to do better tomorrow.
Oh and I found the cord. It was in a cupboard in the laundry in a spot I never look. I think this means some further decluttering may be in order.