Where Does the Time Go?

How is it that kids take up so much time?  Where does the time go exactly?

Especially since Claire started kindergarten, this has become more clear to me.  An average weekday breaks down to about 6 hours of kid “stuff”, mostly to do with getting them to the right place at the right time, feeding them, and getting them to sleep.  Here is how it breaks down on a regular school day:

  • 6:30 – 7:25 am: Getting the kids up, dressed, fed, packed, and out the door for school
  • 7:25 – 8:15 am: Getting both kids dropped off at school, and then back home for work
  • (day job)
  • 4:00 – 5:00 pm: Picking up Claire from extend-a-care and taking her back home for a while.  Often, I get a little more work done while Claire chills downstairs.  Or I unpack and go through Claire’s daily folder with assignments, notices, etc.  Or finish up laundry, dishes, mail, etc.
  • 5:00 – 6:00 pm: This is roughly the window of Claire and I picking up Molly and getting everyone settled back at home.  This can take a while because the traffic on Mo-Pac is often ridiculous.  I have considered biking over to pick her up, which would certainly take even longer, but at least it would be fun and good for the heart and would turn a really bad slog into a fun activity.  Still, I can’t afford the extra time to do this.  When would we have dinner?  Would I leave work even earlier?
  • 6:00 – 7:00 pm: Dinner prep, consumption, and cleanup if possible
  • 7:00 – 7:30 pm: Molly bath, story, and to sleep.  Claire’s evening free time or for school assignments or playing with one of us.
  • 7:30 – 8:15 pm: Claire shower, teeth, story, and to sleep.
So the average day has roughly 6:30 to 8:15 and 4:00 to 8:15 more or less focused on the kids or kid-realted tasks, which comes in at about 6 hours every day.  That really is a second job, not quite a full-time job, but close.  One you toss in nighttime “administrative” activities such as tracking, scheduling, and planning school assignments, kid-related home projects, outside classes, parties, etc. plus the laundry, cleaning (hah!), etc. it probably does come in at at least 40 hours.
There is no doubt that all this time is worth every second to have two great girls.  My only regret is that most of this time is not what you might call “fun” or “quality” time.  It is mostly just “managing” the kids, sort of like herding cattle, in a sense.  Of course, Claire, Molly, and I talk and joke around in the car.  And sometimes we steal some extra time to play on the playground after school, which is really excellent.  And on the weekends we thankfully do have time carved out for outings around town, play dates, slow dinners, and other fun.  But we have to work hard to protect that time.
At 30-40 hours a week, these kids really are officially a second job: an unpaid, sometimes thankless, sometimes frustrating job, but more than that… easily the most thrilling, interesting, and rewarding job ever.

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