April 26, 2012

The Least Productive Part Of My Day

DaddyTips—Thoughts on Dadding

Do you want to know what the least productive part of my day is? Do you? You do.

The least productive part of my day is right now.

Really. I’m writing this as I ponder what I can realistically get done before I go back to Daddy Time. Which in this case means when the kids are done with school for the day.

I want to clarify that all of my time is technically Daddy Time, since my main job is taking care of the kids. I have to be able to drop whatever I’m doing in order to unexpectedly pick someone up from school, take someone to the dentist, make/order dinner—you get the idea.

That being the case, not everything is unexpected. I am able to schedule most of my Dad-related duties. For example, the kids tend to want dinner every single night. (These kids today! When I was young, we made stew out of bark that we found on the hill we had to walk up both ways to school!) Also dentist appointments, playdates, and so on.

But no matter how well I plan, there is always this chunk of time right before my day ends. I don’t mean that my day actually ends. I’m referring to what for most people would be the end of the workday. The time when you leave the office and return home.

I’m home all day, except when I have errands or just need to get outside. In theory this would give me endless hours to be productive. That’s not always the case.

I’m a good SAHD WAHD—I always manage to get my writing work done, and the children rarely return home to an empty larder; if there really isn’t anything in the house for dinner, we order in. Although scheduling blocks of time to do various tasks doesn’t work for me, in part due to unexpected Daddy Duties, I am able to prioritize with aplomb. I keep track of which things absolutely positively must be done by making lists, taping post-its to the door, and constantly checking and double-checking various sources of information.

The time that leads up to when my day ends is always the hardest to figure out. Do I start something that I know will take more than an hour when I know I only have 45 minutes before I need to leave? Can I realistically finish the task, which is often writing a blog post like this one, in those 45 minutes that I have available? Or should I use that time to relax, read the paper, or play guitar, the latter of which is my main form of stress relief?

Typically the answer is “guitar”. Which is fine. I’m well aware that most people don’t get to make a choice between reading the paper and playing guitar on a weekday afternoon. This isn’t a complaint, although it’s starting to sound like one. It’s about productivity, which is a topic that is discussed so often it defies logic—if we stopped talking about how to be more productive, we could use that time to get stuff done.

My point is that no matter how well I plan, my Daddy Duties will always keep me from using the time when the kids aren’t with me as productively as possible. This is true of any primary caregiver, although I think it’s probably more difficult when your time is, quote-unquote, your own. For me, on days when there is kidstuff to be done, even well-planned and previously scheduled kidstuff, my time is always going to be limited in some way.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s just the way it is right now.


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