Today is the day of the annual family camping trip, where “family” means all relatives currently within the borders of New Zealand except for me.
I abstain from camping not only because it means sleeping near bugs, but because skipping it presents an incredibly rare occasion for to be alone in our house.
Both E and I have worked from home for the past two years and will continue for the foreseeable future, but I serve the role of our errand-runner-in-chief. That means that if anyone is occasionally left at home alone, it’s E rather than me. That means the family camping trip might ne the only time alone in the house for more than 15 minutes for all of 2023 – just as it was in 2022!
I claim to love being alone. In reality I like it for about twelve hours.
After that, I get lonely and want to make some food for someone.
It turns out that what I crave isn’t necessarily “alone time,” it’s uninterrupted time. It’s hard to choose that for myself when the alternative is a rare hour where E and I are both free to hang out, and even harder when I’m in the same house with an awesome and highly-entertaining kid during her waking hours.
I walked away from the perfect work/life balance of my dream job just to spend more time with that kid – so, of course I’m going to give up some potential quiet time to hang out with her!
Sometimes the only way to enjoy uninterrupted time to myself without feeling guilty is for the kid to be nowhere within a 100-kilometer radius of me. Maybe camping is that far away? I’m not sure. All I know is that it involves sleeping in a tent in a well-managed slice of wilderness with questionable access to plumbing and electricity. That’s a combination of factors I would only endure for a reality show with a significant cash prize.
Last year, I used the family-minus-me camping trip to reset my habits for the coming year. I asked myself, “If I could create a perfectly-scheduled 48hrs where I did every single thing that was important to me in perfect proportion, what would it look like?”
Then, because I am me and there is a tiny, fiery, OCD Godzilla rampaging deep in my soul and/or gut, I scheduled that 48 hours down to five-minute increments and stuck to my schedule! I worked, cooked, cleaned, played games, listened to loud music, read comics, wrote songs, worked out, and went on evening walks.
That doesn’t sound revolutionary, but it was rejuvenating and it was helpful in setting my intent for the year. I had a healthy work/life balance for most of 2022 for the first time since before becoming a stay-at-home parent in 2017. I ran more kilometers than I’ve ever run in a single year of my life. And, I got my back catalog back into shape after a few flabby years of songwriting – plus, added a few new and newly-revised tunes.
I’m tempted to keep the same balance of stuff this year. There’s already a minute-by-minute schedule! It worked just fine last year!
But, I’m not the same person I was last January. Not every plant needs the exact same amount of water at the same hour every day. Sometimes they require time in the sun, or pruning, or a stake to help support their rapid growth.
This year I’d love to strike a similar balance without being so prescriptive about every minute This blog post is the first slice of that. Last year I did many wonderful things in my uninterrupted 48 hours, but they did not include writing for myself. I also have designs on reading a book – not a digital graphic novel, but an actual, physical book of prose!
Past that, there aren’t any rules for my uninterrupted non-camping time, aside that I should feel good about how I spent it once the interruptions resume.