I said in my last post that I had recently logged my time for a week to see how I was spending it.
How did I spend my 168 hours?
Well, I'm getting enough sleep. I spent 51.5 hours sleeping, an average of more than 7.5 hours per night.
This left 115.5 waking hours.
28 of these were spent on household tasks. This includes food prep (11.5 hours), tidying (7 h -- who knew I only spent an hour a day?), shopping and errands (6 h). Apparently someone else does most of the laundry because I only recorded half an hour. 1.5 of these "household" hours were spent supervising the children's chores. Almost 2 more hours were spent on listmaking, meal planning, and making appointments and the like.
Including travel, 27 hours were spent at leisure, not counting dedicated "family" time. This included 13 hours devoted to socializing with other adults, 8 hours using the internet. about two and a half hours watching videos, and almost 4 hours reading print matter (including some time reading to kids, but not including reading in bed).
Dedicated family time took up 24 hours - one day out of my week. That includes the 5.25 hours I recorded nursing (even though some of that was multitasking, and surely I really nursed a lot more than that.) I spent 8 hours being with my husband, and almost 11 hours interacting directly with the kids outside school and meals.
Personal maintenance took 22 hours. That includes eating (more than 9 and a half hours), changing clothes and bathing and the like (7 hours - really?), and time devoted to exercise (5.75 hours, but that includes travel, changing, and showering). I got a little more exercise under the "family" heading, too.
Next comes my "job" -- homeschooling. I always thought it was a full time job, but really it's only part time! I spent a little more than 21 hours on school. Of that, ten hours were one-on-one instruction -- which was about what I would have guessed, 2 hours per day. I spent a bit less than 9 hours on planning, preparing lessons, record keeping, and keeping the schoolroom tidy. 2.5 hours were school-related travel time. (The children all spent some time on independent work and being taught by others, too. Also, this leaves out about an hour of reading to kids.)
Finally, I spent 5 and half hours on church and prayer, including travel and getting the kids ready.
What about the analysis?
My first impression is that my life is remarkably balanced:
A quarter of my waking hours were spent at leisure, either alone or with friends and neighbors. A bit more than a fifth were spent leisurely interacting with my family. A bit less than a fifth of my time is the interesting and challenging work of schooling the children. (Alternatively, if you count up all the time I'm interacting directly with the children, including instruction, care, and discipline, it's well over one-fourth of my time.)
Necessary household tasks take a quarter of my waking time, and caring for my own body and clothes takes a fifth. I spend about as much time on going to church as I do on going to the gym: five percent of my waking hours was spent on each.
There are some other ways to crunch the numbers by re-assigning categories.
For instance, what is "work?" I have long considered my "job" to be homeschooling. But because we're home all day, there is more housework that needs to be done. If you think of me more as a "homemaker" than a "homeschooler," and count as my "job" the schooling plus all the household tasks I perform, then I work a nearly-fifty-hour week. But on the other hand, maybe only M-F housework should count. In that case it's about a 45-hour week. Or maybe I should count as "work" only the housework done while my husband is working for pay (as a measure of the hours I've specialized in homemaking; presumably Mark doesn't think of his evening and weekend housework as "being at work."). In that case, I work 38 and a half hours per week, plus 11 weekend-and-evening hours at more household tasks.
Or how about analyzing based on whether I have to interact with other people? I am an introvert and I dig my alone time, even if that's cleaning the kitchen. Turns out I spend 73 hours a week having to interact with other people, and 56 waking hours per week recovering from that time by being (whew) psychically isolated, i.e. exercising with headphones on or sitting on the couch with my nose stuck in a book. That's probably enough to meet my needs.
Or you could divide it up by how much I like to do the stuff I do -- am I spending time on things that are fulfilling and/or fun? I like teaching, planning, prepping school, socializing, cooking, using the internet, exercising, and spending time with my family. I don't like driving, running errands, housework, or phone calls. I'm neutral on personal care, I guess - let's call that a "dislike" since I would rather do something else (even though I famously love a hot shower).
By that measure, I am pretty happy most of the time. I spent about 100 hours doing things that I find purely enjoyable (like exercise and reading) or else at least a meaningful use of my competencies (like cooking, teaching the kids, and preparing the schoolroom). In contrast, I spent less than 24 hours on tasks I don't really like to do. That's a four-to-one ratio -- not bad! (Unless it just means I don't pull my own weight.)
There were a few surprises. I thought I spent a lot more than 8 hours on the internet, but it turns out that I must be getting that impression because of the many times per day I check "just for a minute" if I have a new email or blog comment. Even though those "just a minutes" add up, I didn't track that "non-sitting" internet time. I probably should track it better, but I learned one thing at least: it's clear that I'm not getting a feeling of "leisure" from these little checkings-in, and maybe I should be more disciplined about avoiding them. I wouldn't be depriving myself of very much, and maybe I'd gain focus. On the other hand, the total time is pretty low -- it doesn't seem like something I have a huge problem with, so maybe I shouldn't worry about it.
How else could I use my time better? I spend about seven hours a week on tidying and cleaning up, and only 1.5 hours supervising while children tidy or clean up. Surely I could shift away from solo chores and towards directing children who are learning to do those same chores? They are not as efficient as I am, so the more I delegated these tasks to the children, the more time it would take from me. But teaching the children to clean is arguably a more productive and fulfilling use of the hours, and also an investment for the future -- because the more I supervise their chores, the more competent they will get.
I also spent almost twelve hours on food prep. Cooking is a household task I enjoy, but maybe I'm indulging in this hobby more than I ought to at about 1.75 hours a day. I have already cut back a lot in recent years, settling on a repertoire of frequently made dinners and trying no more than one new recipe per week. I'm not sure how much more I could cut back without relying more heavily on prepackaged foods and takeout. I could certainly enlist the children's help more than I do.
To sum up, I have been pleasantly surprised to discover that my time allocation is more in line with my values than I thought it was. I would like a little more data on my internet usage (I'm sure that a lot of that time is wasted -- neither work nor particularly pleasing leisure time), and maybe I'll track that soon. But what I have already learned can, I think, help me. I have identified a couple of places that I could tweak to improve things a bit.
Also, I really have no business complaining about the laundry, because apparently my husband has been doing, um, all of it. If there's one place I should spend more time, it's on counting my blessings.