Tuesday, March 11, 2008

multi-tasking wake-up

The whole concept of this blog is to point out, and hopefully discover, ways to maximize down time. Time in the LOADING zone. Most moms wish for more time in the day. Searching for ways to add minutes to their day without sacrificing sleep or valuable interactive time with the family.

Maximizing down time, is not the same as multi-tasking. Don't get me wrong, multi-tasking is awesome. The key is to understand which of the tasks you are juggling requires your primary focus. One armed cooking is a task most mothers master by the time our children are just several weeks old.

We instinctively protect the baby, preferring to drop the pot rather then drop the baby. We hold and love our children while going about our daily routine, until one day that child pushes us away and begins to explore the world from their own height. We frantically childproof the house crawling around behind our kids, plugging up outlets, securing electric cords and never letting them out of our sight, afraid they will discover what we overlooked.

So why do we multi-task, putting these same children we are overprotective of in jeopardy, while we drive? Turning to talk to them, looking down to get items from our purse. Answering the phone, and even text-ing back our response. We think we are protecting them, making sure they are buckled up and yet we seem to be driving with our knees. We wait until the last possible minute to leave, and then rush to get where we are going. Breaking speed limits, gunning on the yellow. Praying to the traffic lights to be on our side.

There was an awful car accident on the corner by my house today. 2 mini-vans, a truck and a SUV. 4 large vehicles, 3 of the 4 holding car-seats. I don't know who was at fault, I checked it out and walked back into my home, slightly shaken and very grateful. Normally I would have been on the road at that time. My kids stayed late at school today for an event. It would not have been unusual for me at that intersection to not be paying attention to my driving and focused on the radio or something else.

Multi-tasking is not the same as maximizing. Be aware of the difference, and be grateful that your not running late to get your kids because you totalled the car.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Blog Party ?

A whole new world is opening up for me. I remember a time of Block Parties, streets being closed off for the day, one neighbor splurging for the bounce house. Everyone stressing about what dish to bring, that will make friends and not long term enemies. I think those days are gone for most of us. Permits are now needed, long term planning involved, no one has the motivation or desire to take on the hassle. It was refreshing to see that someone found a semi-replacement. A Blog Party, one specializing in woman's links, stores & blogs. If you are interested in learning more please follow the link check out: http://www.5minutesformom.com/

Time, Space and Black Holes

"Time will be spent, the choice is will it be wasted or invested."

There is nothing wrong with down time, we all need it. The problem is when it is not done consciously. We do not live with black-holes. Space, time, even air occupy this area, even when we are not really aware of the existence.

When I walk into a museum or show-room, I notice what is on display, because of how it is framed. The wall behind a picture, the lighting, even the color of the floor, all add to how a piece is spotlighted. Upper-end boutiques use this technique constantly. They may have just a few items on display, and convey a message that could not be duplicated with a crowded, jumbled clothes rack.

Florists will place one stunning stem, in a clear glass vase with a few clear glass marbles... you notice all the details of that flower. It's simple, elegant & attractive. There are times, what I want is a full vibrant, multi-faceted arrangement. Colors, textures, smells....a feast for the eyes, a constant surprise with just a subtle change in my visual focus. The reality is both arrangements can occupy the same amount of space, cost the same amount of money, accomplish the same thing sitting on a table.

I can sit on the couch, listening to my thoughts, I can shift my mental focus and listen to the hum of distant cars, the buzz of a small plane somewhere in the clouds. I can close my eyes and pick out the first chirps of springtime from the birds in the backyard, or the sounds of my son clicking on his own keyboard... It is up to me which sounds I want to hear. What sounds I want to pick out from the grey-noise around me.

Sounds will invade my space, so I get to decide what sounds those will be. I can turn on the TV, radio or choose my own sounds to fill my ears. I can listen to commercials I am not interested in and music that I have no passion for, or I can invest a little effort and play some CD's that I will enjoy. It takes a little more effort to make a decision, get off the couch and turn on the stereo. It also gives me so much more pleasure having music I am passionate for playing in the background.

You can not waste time, you can not save time, you can not hold onto time, it passes, consciously or unconsciously, awake or asleep. You can use your time. The key is to be aware of it, and make a decision of how it will be used. Like putting a small picture on a large blank wall, or painting the side of a building with a mural. Both will occupy the same square footage, both have value.

Quiet time, down time, relaxing time, these are important. Just be aware of time, don't allow indecision, to fill your time. Decide that I need to rest, or decide to do something. The time will be spent one way or another, might as well get some value from it.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Ultimate Loading Zone

"So I am getting ready for the ultimate loading zone experience. Chaperoning tweens to an amusement park. Tonight is Scholarship night. The park is closed to the general public and invaded by local middle and high school students, along with their family and friends. So while the group I'm bringing giggles and talks waiting in long lines for a 45 second thrill, I'll be walking the short distance from the "line begins here" sign to the "exit only gate" a few feet away. I made sure to put cuticle cream and a nail buffer in my bag, along with a notebook for those random thoughts, and my Ipod."

Well that was last night, and yes I remembered the nail buffer and Ipod, along with an extra shirt for layering and a few other things. What I forgot was my wallet, driver's license, credit card, cash... you know the real reason the girls didn't mind me tagging along as a chaperon, the prospect of "churros" all around. I realized it once we were in the park. Usually this would have been caught earlier... driving through to get a coffee close to the house...but I was meeting a friend there and we agreed to catch up over coffee while the girls went on rides.

The tickets were pre-paid and in an envelope from the school and parking was free. So the first time I noticed my wallet missing was after I ordered the most expensive latte' in the place and had a panic attack that my wallet was stolen. Then I remembered my wonderful teen-son had paid me back some cash, placing it in my wallet. I called the house and discovered he put my wallet in the matching purse, not realizing I would switch bags to carry more things that evening. I love Brighton but sometimes you need a bigger bag.

Luckily the mom I was meeting owed me money for Girl Scout Cookies and paid for the coffee.

The tweens had a great time and no one got sick by eating a bunch of junk food. I went on a few rides and managed to accomplish a few things in the Loading Zone... Spent some time talking with friends, and most important spent time with my daughter and her friends. Watching the dynamics of personalities, letting them wonder off a little further then I would have last year, while always keeping them in sight or a confined area.

So what are some things that can be done while waiting for kids to go on a ride, or waiting to go on a ride yourself:

My favorite thing is waiting in line with my husband, being folded up in his arms, laying against his chest and walking together step by step, almost as if we are slow dancing, but he wasn't there. My second favorite thing is brushing my daughter's hair between the rides, it's not going to be long before that is socially unacceptable, thinking about it I didn't brush her hair once last night.

So what did I do during my down time?

1. Exercised: hand-rail push-ups, squats (wish I could remember how to spell those in ballet-terms, so much classier), hand-rail dips, purse & daughter curls... Power walked a bit, ran a little, walked a lot. Thinking about it I got a lot of my major muscle groups.

2. Gave myself a quick manicure.

3. Took some pictures for our family and the school's yearbook.

4. Wrote, ideas and topics for this blog.

5. Spent a lot of time smiling at my daughter...

6. Oh-yeah started the list of activities for this coming summer.

All in all, I was pretty productive waiting in the Loading Zone. (They were getting in and out of "cars" on the rides, and I was waiting for them.)

I spent a lot of time thinking how do I fit this experience into my definition of Loading Zone, I think that works.


I'm the daughter of a queen, mother to a princess and somewhere between these two dynamic individuals I got lost behind the steering wheel of my mini-van. I became someone I did not recognize or want to become. I wanted to be Snow-White, attractive, together, modern, perpetually young and able to care for my home and family. Floating through the day whistling a happy tune, was that a different princess? I found my prince charming, we bought our cottage, got married in the back-yard, and expanded it as our family got older.

We live up the freeway from Disneyland, down from Tinsle-Town where dreams come true, at least American Idol would have us believe that. In a small city that has managed to keep family life a high-priority. I am surrounded by other stay-at-home moms, and woman who work part-time so they can give their families full-time attention.

While some of my peers managed to stay princesses, or wave the magic wand of botox to become trophy wives, I became one of the dwarfs. We have all heard of Sneezy, Bashful and Doc.... well around here we have, Frumpy, Dumpy, Cranky, Grumpy and Sleepy still exist with their friends Lazy, Overwhelmed and Sidetracked.

I allowed Motherhood to shroud all remnants of the girl I was or the mom I wanted to be. So I am regaining, reinventing & recreating myself one loading zone at a time.

I'll stop here for a moment...if by loading zone you hear "the white zone is for immediate loading and unloading of passengers only, no parking", then you don't have children with different schedules attending the same school.

The loading zone at my kids' school goes from a drive-thru drop off in the morning to a long term parking zone in the afternoon. Side doors open, tail gates up, greetings exchanged, the ultimate hurry-up and wait situation. We rush to get a prime spot, only to wait as our t'weens & teens approach the car at a snail-pace. Lingering at their locker, talking with friends, postponing the homework and chores at home.

So I learned to use this time. I actually look forward to it, planning my trips to take full advantage of being in the loading-zone. The key is to be prepared for it. Having the tools, tips and ideas to use this normal "down-time" as "me" moments. That is what this blog is all about.

There is nothing new under the sun. The ideas, thoughts and suggestions I have, have probably been suggested and used by other people. What is new, different or unusual is the way they are being presented, one loading zone at a time.

I will continue to add, edit and refine this, the same way I will continue to regain, recreate and reinvent myself. I love getting ideas, hints and useful information, so please share away....but only if the car is in park, no IM-ing while driving 60 miles an hour.

The Mom

Loading Zone

The Loading Zone is:

1. Anytime you are waiting for a child to load into the car.

2. Anytime you are in the car waiting for a child.

3. Anytime you can sit in your car, instead of waiting somewhere else.