This is one of those years. Or perhaps such is adulthood, where the budget is perpetually lean to accommodate ever-looming large financial goals. We pinched and shifted until there was room for my yoga teacher training. Yoga itself? Not so much. Thankfully my studio utilizes karma as a currency, so in exchange for two-hours of my service cleaning I get unlimited yoga, plus a bit of yoga to share. Thanks to some sweat equity, my back enjoys a consistent yoga practice and I get to participate more in this community I have been peripherally a part of for over five years now. I can hardly understand why I didn’t start this last spring.
Since returning from Rwanda, we are cautious with our commitments. I am glad for this shift. However, sometimes I forget that budgeting time is much the same as budgeting money. There is a set amount, and it is a matter of setting aside enough time for those things I need and prioritizing the wish list for what is remaining. Last spring and summer and fall and winter I felt like there was not enough time. There certainly was not enough time readily available. This spring I budgeted the time. And after two years off, Leila and I are back to very occasionally co-op volunteering. Why not? She learns the importance of giving time, we both have an excuse to linger and mingle and then our family enjoys $10 of credit to chip away at our weekly order.
Have you ever used any sort of time banking in your communities?
PS Look what I found. I’m intrigued.
Labor Day is over – it is back to school time, even for those of us that are not in school. This is our first week where all of Leila’s classes are back in full swing. Last year we had three constants. This year we have six. As anyone that spends their entire day with a 2 ½ year old will know, this is a good thing. I very much appreciate having mornings full of activities to keep us occupied and out of the house.
We’ve got Tyke Hikes at the Houston Arboretum and Persian play dates with Baba Joon on Mondays. Tuesday is Spanish class. Wednesday is now swim class for our squirt. Thursday is Toddler Storytime at the library and some quality time with Grandma. Then it’s Friday, which is always a good time to catch up on errands or make a trip to the Children’s Museum. Afternoons are for rest. As for the mornings, keep them packed please.
For the first two years, we happily took advantage of the most cost-effective (read free/practically free) activities in the city. Now that Leila is older, we’re starting to dip our toes into classes. It is not cheap. Even with just a limited swim and Spanish class, we’ll have spent $1400 by the end of the year. When I think of all of the other options – dance, gymnastics, music, sports, art, etc. – I get overwhelmed with possibility and expense. We haven’t yet officially determined how we’ll budget for this. Right now a membership or two and a class or two seems to be just right. Leila’s still quite young, but I like the idea of keeping to a one or two things at a time limit. It seems manageable.
How do you decide?
To help us not spend money we don’t have we make a budget. I’ve started thinking the budget creating approach might work well applied to my time. I often get frustrated when my unrealistic expectations don’t fit into the tiny window between Leila falling asleep and Leila waking up for the day. From 6 am to 6 pm all bets are off. The day is full of nursing and diaper changing and hopeful attempts at napping and lots of watching someone explore this brand new world. When I am particularly conscientious it also includes teeth brushing and dog walking and perhaps even some bed making. I hate to confess that it often also includes way too much FB and email checking, which I’m working on making less prominent. I know someday I’ll have the opportunity to revisit those 12 hours, but for now my concern is the other half. Here is what I would like for that time to look like:
6 pm: Leila’s bedtime routine
6:30 pm: Leila’s bedtime
6:30 pm – 8 pm: make dinner, eat dinner & hang out with Ben
8 pm – 9 pm: my bedtime routine, including some reading and Seinfeld watching
9 pm – 6 am: sleep, though usually someone is up and needs tending to starting at 5 am
Pretty simple. We’re both hoping to squeeze the dinner eating in before Leila’s bedtime routine starts up so we can enjoy that 90 minute stretch without the tedium of meal prep and cleanup, but like any budget it’s important to be realistic about actual input and output. For the meantime I know eradicating mindless internet playing around and TV watching will translate to more quality time together and longer stretches of uninterrupted sleeping, two especially sought after things to us new parents.
The more I think about this budget, the more I realize that minus the portion devoted to Leila this routine looks quite similar to the one we had in Rwanda, where it felt as if we had nothing but time.