My mother is constantly asking where all her time goes. She’s decreased her work schedule to two 12 hour shifts per week and no longer has any kids at home, so it does seem like she should have some amount of free time, but it doesn’t. So staying with her this summer I’ve paid attention, and I’ve come up with a few ideas of the things that are sucking my mother’s time away.
1. My father. My mother likes to say she’s from the generation of women who thought they had to do it all. The women who were encouraged to get jobs outside the home, but who didn’t realize that meant they could ask the men in their lives to help around the house. My father’s a good old boy who thinks that house work makes you girly. When us kids moved out she finally convinced him to vacuum (though he complains and procrastinates about it). Add to that he’s constantly tracking mud and saw dust into the house and gets highly offended if asked to wipe his feet. If he could do that alone I think it would give her at least a couple hours a week.
2. Laundry. Yes, laundry is a necessary evil, but I strongly feel like she does a lot more of it than she needs to. Yes, I have a tendency to not wash as often as I need to because I have to go to a Laundromat to do it. I can understand not wearing the same pajamas for a week like I do, but I’m not sure they need to be washed every day either. She does the same with hand towels, wash clothes, kitchen towels, etc, etc. The end result is that nearly every day off she does a minimum of two loads of laundry. If she’d let the hand towels go three days instead of one or two I think she could buy herself at least two or three hours a week.
3. Grocery shopping. Now let me give this to my mom: she can get in and out of a store with astounding speed. Cammy once went shopping with her and was stunned by this. But no matter how fast you are, every trip to the store takes about half an hour travel time, five minutes to park, five minutes to walk to and from the car… So it’s easy for each trip to the grocery store to take at least an hour. And my mother can’t just go to one store. She goes to Wal-Mart (often twice a week), Trader Joe’s, Costco, Sam’s Club, and sometimes more. I realize she goes to all these stores based on who has the best prices on what, but given her crazy schedule if she would just consolidate, or make one or two of those trips a bi-weekly thing she could save a lot of time.
Of course, this is probably one of those things that is much easier to see from the outside. Maybe it’s easier to see other people’s time vampires than our own because our own seem so essential while other people’s seem silly.