You can’t save time, you can only spend it. But you can spend it wisely or foolishly. –Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh
How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before it’s June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon? ―
Once upon a time…
…there was a not-my-day-job-blogger who was responsible for publishing a blog every other Monday. She woke up on a Monday morning after seven weeks under a “stay at home” order and her first thought was, “DAMMIT! I forgot to write my blog!”
First, she freaked out. 😮
Second, she wrote a panicky confession to her co-author that she forgotten. 🤦🏼♀️
Third, she admonished herself bitterly for being so forgetful. (“How could you forget something like THAT??!!”) 😠
Then she made her morning coffee. ☕☕
Yep. It was me. Gratefully, Amy texted me within minutes and invited me to calm down because she’d published that morning’s blog and mine was not due for another week.
But of course! I even KNEW that. I’d been mulling topics as late as Sunday morning.
Just what the hell happened then?? Early onset dementia?! (Do you ever ask yourself that?)
No. I believe it’s a number of things.
First of all, since one of my day jobs is teaching at the university, it was the middle of exam week. I’ll be the first to admit I am not at my best for a few weeks at the end of both semesters. April tends to be the worst. I stay up too late, don’t sleep enough, and work during any moment of not-otherwise-scheduled time. Additionally, I had been up extremely late Sunday night working on a task for a committee for my department. I sent the email containing my product sometime after 3 AM. There is no doubt that, in and of itself, was enough to disorient me last Monday morning.
Our experience of time has significantly shifted during this COVID-19 stay-at-home period.
But I think it is something more and I don’t think I am alone in this: Our experience of time has significantly shifted during this COVID-19 stay-at-home period. I’ve noticed it in a number of ways and I hear other people discussing the same sense of alteration.
Our daily schedules and routines are off. Whereas we once had to be places at a specific times, many of us only have to shuffle from one room to another. If that.
How we mark days
For many people, our work weeks and our weekends may not have the clear distinctions that they did before March. Many parents are juggling not only a workload, but also schooling their children. Lots of people talk about how they are working sporadically at times when the children are otherwise occupied or, even sleeping. Pairs of parents are tag-teaming the kids interspersed with meetings. Parents (or other couples home together) who are trying to get their jobs done in the kitchen or a bedroom, find that it’s often night times and weekends when they are most able to concentrate and focus on interrupted on a project or other independent task.
If you can believe this, boys and girls, our time-challenged heroine apparently only did her grocery shopping after 8pm. Following the stay-at-home order, she found that she had to plan her days better or she was a pumpkin at mealtimes. No fairy godmother could make the stores fit her typical schedule. ✨
Even during the work day, I might start a load of laundry, clean my kitchen, or pull a few weeds between professional obligations. I can assure you, this never happened in my pre-COVID work life.
Our workdays and off times are blending together unrecognizably.
How we mark weeks
There are no events that mark the end of the work week and the beginning of playtime. We don’t brush off the workweek by going to dinner on Friday night. No one has a ticket to a sporting event or a concert that they’ve been gearing up for. I can’t remember the last time I spent a Saturday just running errands and doing the things I don’t have time to do during the week. We can’t decide that we’re going to take it easy Saturday afternoon and go to a matinee movie and then grab a drink afterwards.
There’s no weekend dancing, Thursday night jazz music, farmers’ market on Saturdays. No happy hours out with friends. No Sunday dinner at Grandma’s. Organizational work is relegated to email. Except on television (or zoom), there’s no church, scant committee meetings, online youth groups. I could live stream my yoga class on Tuesday evenings or I can go back and rewatch it anytime I want during the week.
But that’s the problem… Tuesday looks like Friday looks like Sunday looks like Monday.
Life just blurred together
You get it. After all, you’re living it too. Our experience of time seems unusually messy and blurred.
So sometime between Sunday morning and considering a blog topic to Monday morning’s panic, life just blurred together for this blogger.
But wait, Messy blogger! There’s got to be a Marvelous part to this story, right?
Yes, dear reader, there is.
Families are cooking together and being creative as a group. Many kids are learning culinary skills alongside parents and pitching in with the clean-up. Why run out (and increase your risk again) and buy a cake or cookies for a celebration? Plus, we now have the time to make them. And bonus: we’re sitting down together for our meals regularly rather than eating on the run when pressed for time.
We’re not spending our weekend time engaged in consumerism. I know that I have needed for nothing other than what I can find at the grocery store or a market. But yet, I’ve been known to shop mindlessly looking for something that I “need.” Do we really need all the stuff we have? Personally, I now have the time to get rid of a lot of things.
We are doing things as a family unit—we’re not all going our separate ways and only sharing time as “ships passing in the night.” I see families playing together in their yards, I hear people working on home projects while I’m sitting on my porch. I watch people have the luxury of time to take daily walks together.
There are no long commutes that “waste our time” as we focus on the heavy traffic. We are more likely to be connected in what might have been previously isolated times. And maybe, just maybe, we can get our grocery shopping done during the day.Time, and our experience of it, has shifted. Maybe we should be looking for a different perspective. Click To Tweet
I’ve seen that many people are gardening more—growing their own food. Me too, for the first time in all my gardening years. Talk about a distinctly different sense of time – watching plants grow and, hopefully, producing our mealtime ingredients.
Life has become slow. Sometimes I feel like I’ve been transported back to my childhood in the 1960s. Did you ever play that game where you would intentionally blur your vision just to look at things differently? My cousin and I could entertain ourselves endlessly doing silly stuff like that. Maybe that’s what is happening now. Maybe we should be looking for a different perspective.
So, faithful followers, TIME, and our experience of it, has shifted. And despite the messy mistakes in adapting to this change, it’s OK. The moral of the story: Enjoy your time. In fact, if we learn from this marvelous time of opportunity, it might be that a different way of experiencing time helps us live happily ever after…
Rhea Ann Merck, Ph.D.
Licensed Psychologist, persistent woman, mother of 2 amazing young women, writer, teacher, life-long learner, curious & creative human, lover of life, passionate about making life better every day…
Fairy illustration by Bexx — find her at suninsorrowtea.wordpress.com