I need down time

All that stuff I’ve said about sleep becomes incredibly relevant when I don’t get enough down time. I simply am not a person who does well working more than 8 hours a day. I can do it, but there is a price. That price is usually sleep.

I have never been able to immediately transition to sleep. If I am out in the evening, I need to come home at least a couple of hours before bed so I have time to shower, brush my teeth, and sip at least two cups of tea before I turn in. If I try to rush those things, I toss and turn for an hour or so.

If I pull a long day (get up early to do freelancing and/or work late), I have the same issue. I need some time that is not work, or housework. My brain needs a break. And will take it whether I want to or not. I start spacing out during the day, stay up too late playing on the internet, or just lay awake long after bedtime. Eventually, I enter a vicious cycle in which I find myself unable to go to sleep, or if I do manage to drop off am unable to stay asleep, because I am too tired. And then I start snapping over every little setback and nobody likes me much.

Exercise – vigorous exercise, like fast walking, strength exercises, and aerobics – can be used in place of down time for a day or so, as sort of a concentrated down time. The alone time, the music, and the physical energy expenditure burn off the edges of the long work day and allow me to rest. But after a day or so, I am right back where I started. Except now I’m also sore.

I need time to eat, time to tidy my house/kids/self, time to exercise. Nobody would begrudge me that. But I also need time to sip tea, snuggle my kids, read stupid things on the internet, plan, dream. Without that time, I fall apart. And eventually, I stop sleeping.

I’m beginning to think I need to budget my time. I say that like such an adult, don’t I? Like someone who can actually create and stick to a budget of any sort. Don’t let me fool you; I suck at budgeting. All budgeting. I’m flying by the seat of my pants here, and have been my whole “grown-up” life. But I’m going to try, okay?

People keep insisting that budgets are useful tools, and easy to maintain if you have discipline. I have discipline in spades. I just lack the mental circuitry that allows people to do things like accurately determine how much time it really takes to do things and how much money I actually need to live on. But I am intelligent, and eager to learn.

So here goes. I won’t even schedule anything yet; this is just me estimating time. Weekdays only; weekends are another issue entirely.

  • I work 8 hours a day, plus lunch is 9 hours.
  • I do not freelance every day, but often enough that I should budget a little time for it. Let’s say an hour.
  • I want to exercise at least 30 minutes a day, so let’s add that.
  • Let’s add another 2 hours for dinner and cleanup.
  • And an hour and a half for household tasks – errands, tidying, paying bills, all that jazz. (There’s always something.)
  • And another hour for bathing me and the kids.
  • And another hour to get us in bed, asleep.
  • I need 7 hours of sleep to function like a semi-intelligent being.

That leaves me…one hour for me to zone out, play with the kids, read, pursue interests, plan ahead, talk to my spouse-type person, visit with my parents, email friends… No wonder I am so cranky. Something is always taking a backseat, because let’s get real – one hour is not enough down time for me. So I either skip some of those items, or try to do two or three of them simultaneously, which usually ends badly.

I need to give this matter some serious thought. I already know that saving all the cleaning til the weekend is a big fail. But I could maybe do a bit more advance cooking to streamline meals, set up a home inventory and buy things in advance of running out to make errands more efficient, get back on the daily cleaning wagon so cleaning the house isn’t so time consuming.

Or I could win the lottery and quit my job.

Time budget it is. (I’ll deal with the money budget another time.)


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