Saturday, January 18, 2020

Nickle and Diming Our Time

Have you ever felt that sometimes the quickest of errands take the longest time? Time management is something that I’m trying to be better about and I’ve noticed just how much time we’re spending doing the simplest of things. It is astounding how much we nickle and dime our time away. I took a couple of days from earlier this week studied them and determined how my time was spent. It wasn’t pretty.

With four school age children in our household, all with their own interests and extracurricular activities, we find ourselves doing a fair bit of driving all around town. In one instance, right around Thanksgiving, my wife had a meeting that would run later than normal. That left me hauling the kids around by myself. 

On that particular day, the twins got home from school at 2:30. By 2:50, I was in the car taking one of them to the bowling alley out on Transit. The hardest parts of that trip are the corner of Transit and Robinson (especially so since they had one lane closed for a short time during this period) and getting out of the bowling alley parking lot amidst the deluge of traffic coming out of Amherst and Buffalo.

By the time I got back to the city proper, I had to run over to North Park to pick up our daughter who had drama club. I dropped her off at the house and I kept driving over to Roy B Kelley to pick up the littlest from her drama club rehearsal by 4:30. She had to go immediately to dance, and we needed to pick up one of her friends on the way. Once I dropped them off, ran over to the Lockport Library to exchange some of my books.

When I got home, I dropped off my books and picked up the second twin to take her to dance and Number 3 to karate out on Transit. Once I dropped her off at karate, it was time to pick up the littlest from dance. Their class got out a little late, so I had a little reprieve hanging out with the other dance moms and dads at the studio. We got out just in time to go back to the dojo to get that kid. On our way back to the house, my bowler called to say they were done with their match. Back I went to Transit. 

By this time, the dancing twin was ready to be picked up. I had a car full of kids and we were almost home when the karate kid realized she must have left her phone at karate. We were just pulling into the parking lot at the dojo when she found it in the bottom of her bag. Ugh. Talk about frustrating. We got home just behind my wife. When it was all said and done, I was driving around Lockport from 2:50 until 7:30, and I never went any farther than the bowling alley on Transit.

Granted, that was not a typical day, but it would be safe to say that I was not a happy camper. I put over 70 miles on the truck that day shuttling kids around. There are normally two of us to split the duties,and that day was abnormally full because of some rescheduling. It used to be a lot easier when the YMCA was downtown. I could park in one lot, send two to the dance studio, one to the Y for basketball or swimming, and the other to the Palace for theater. Then I would either go to the library or to the hockey arena to wait for them. It was wonderful.

Last week I timed the bowling trip, both the drop off and pick up. It’s a simple trip so it would give a good indication how much we take this time for granted. It’s only “around the corner” is the mentality I’ve had about it. We’ve probably all had that thought about quick trips around town. It can’t really take that much time. Then later we wonder how it’s already time to wrap up the day and get ready for bed. Where did the time go?

I found that it took 20-25 minutes to go from the house to the bowling alley and back to the house. I had to take this trip twice a day - one for drop off and one for pick up. That’s almost an hour per day simply driving “around the corner.” You can add another 10-15 minutes if it happens to be a Friday. Think about that for a moment. An hour. How many times have any of us made a quick trip like that, never realizing how long it actually took?

I may be a little jaded. I’m very lucky. I live very close to my job. Round trip is just over three miles. Because of traffic lights driving across town, it takes me about seven minutes to get to work. It takes a little longer to get home because there is more traffic in the afternoon and there is a library in the way of my homeward progress. It’s been a long time since I drove more than ten minutes to a job. I can tell you I definitely don’t miss those long treks in a vehicle.

Now take that hour for just the bowling alley and add in dance and theater. Luckily, both are closer to the house than the bowling alley, but it still ends up a big chunk of time in the evenings. Because being late is a huge pet peeve of mine, I typically leave a bit earlier when it’s time to pick up the older dancer from the studio. If she gets out at 9pm. I try to leave the house by 8:50. That should give me a five minute cushion on the rare chance they get out early. Usually by the time the class ends and she gets downstairs, it’s a few minutes past nine. So a dance pick up at the end of the night ends up being about 20 minutes. 

Both the bowling alley and dance end up being four or five times a week. That ends up being about six hours in the car just in the city of Lockport each week. Thankfully, we share duties for the most part. My wife ends up taking the lion’s share of that driving, but I’m still helping out. Now try to schedule a family dinner around all that. We are usually pretty successful being able to sit down together for dinner, but there’s always one or two days that we eat in shifts. I’d say that’s a win, especially since we have three teenagers in the household. That throws a whole new wrinkle in family scheduling, as I’m sure many of you know.

I know someday we’ll miss having to take the kids all over the place for them to dance, or bowl, or act on stage. Right now, though, I’m stunned about the amount of time it actually takes for us. Not the amount of time it takes for them to fulfill their dreams and ambitions, but how long it takes us to get them there and back. It puts a whole new perspective on how I’m spending my time. And I already procrastinate as it is. I guess I’ll have to work on that procrastination thing next. Maybe I’ll start that tomorrow.

Craig Bacon enjoys all the things his children do. He does not really enjoy the time driving for it all though. He doesn’t really like driving at all. Mostly because so many other drivers have seemingly forgotten the simple rules of the road.