If time were a pie, I feel like there’d be no slice left over for me.
After months of floundering in an extroverted world and now living with a one-year-old who moves more than Richard Simmons, a dog who swings on the backdoor bell like Quasimodo, and a wife who works full-time tirelessly while baking a baby in the oven, I snuck my piece of the pie at five in the morning.
I carved out time in the day. I reclaimed my morning routine. The house was silent, thick with expiring dark, and as peaceful as a still morning on the lake.
I had coffee.
I basked in a solid three hours to myself.
But then it was snatched away from me.
For whatever reason, my son keeps waking up early…too early. Like today, I had my alarm set for five A.M., and my heart set on quiet time, but after I’d perched on the porcelain throne and made my coffee, I heard the morning cries of my son at 5:18A.M., followed by the sound of my heart thudding to the floor in disappointment.
Instead of sipping my coffee in the gentle breeze of turning pages or in the soft glow of a blinking cursor on a white screen, I was glugging it on a Wild Kratts commercial break. And, just like that, I dished out my slice of the pie, and another day started.
Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the opportunity to share time with my family, but the fact is, I need alone time. (Why else do dads take such long poops?)
Whether you’re an introvert like me, an exhausted parent or just a busy person, time alone is essential for survival and important for mental health. As familial obligations evolve and house projects fill a growing list, recharging time gets benched from the priority list. We are left with the question, how does someone find a slice of time when loved ones and vital projects are eating it all up?
Keep trying, be patient, and learn to say no to unimportant tasks.
1. Keep Trying
I’m tempted to give up on my five a.m. mornings. The frustration that boils inside me seems to justify doing so. Why even try? is the question that nags. But, maybe tomorrow, my son will sleep until eight again, and I’ll have rich and fulfilling time alone.
Maybe not, but one bad day does not mean that I am stuck in a predestined pattern of failure.
2. Be Patient
“This too shall pass,” is a commonly quoted phrase that originated way back in the day. It is an adage that reflects the temporary nature of life, blessing the moments of struggle, and cursing the moments of peace. Whether I achieve time alone or not, I can find tranquility with such a mentality. The worst moments shall pass, but so will the best so let’s not rush through a difficult season.
3. Learn To Say No To Unimportant Tasks
My brother-in-law has a full-time job, eight home properties, and four kids. He is busier than me. Whether it is because he is forced to say no or he’s good at prioritizing, he has developed the ability to gracefully pass on peripheral opportunities. This allows him to focus on his family during family time, and embrace the little chance he might get for a personal moment.
We each only have so much pie; why dish it out needlessly? Save the best for the best, and savor the leftovers. This season of busyness shall pass, but so will the season when kids are early-rising cherubs.
Keep trying, be patient, and learn to say no. But most of all, learn to love feeding your family hefty slices of quality time.