This week I am in Chapel Hill, North Carolina at Master Trainer training. It seems like I’ve been away from my kids a lot over the past month because of the back to back trips. It’s hard because they are so young, but it’s been great to see them each night via webcam.
The past month or so has been extremely difficult personally. In January we hired a full time nanny who watched our kids in her home with her own two kids. At first things were great, but after a while we started to have some concerns. About a month ago we decided it would be best for everyone involved to move our kids to a childcare facility. It was a very difficult decision and conversation to have with the person who had been caring for my children for years. (She was a teacher at their previous childcare center.)
Luckily since school is starting and kids move up to new classes spots were open in the center we desired for both kids. Had out little one, Cameron, been younger than a year we might not have been so lucky. Infant spots in a 4 or 5 star center have up to a year or more waiting list. In other words, you better get on the list before you conceive your baby.
Add to this the sticker shock. Full-time care in a 4-star center for two children…$420 per week (close to $22K a year). If you are tempted to calculate your wages after paying for childcare and taxes, trust me, don’t.
So after a grueling month it was time for vacation! We had a wonderful trip to my hometown of St. Augustine, Florida. We had a fabulous time spending lazy days at the beach with the kids building sand castles and playing in the waves (even though Florida was flanked by hurricanes this past week).
My family had a completely unplugged vacation without Internet, computers, PDAs, or even cell phones. I think we all need to do this more often. It was completely relaxing. I’m realizing more and more the effect technology can have on one’s attention span and ability to concentrate. Years ago I could read a novel in a day. Now I can only make it through a page or two before I start fidgeting and getting impatient.
We arrived home over the weekend and returned back to the routine of work and childcare. Monday was Ian and Cam’s first day at the new center. Ian being anxious to start kindergarten next fall was excited about going to “4-year-old kindergarten.” Cam on the other hand has not had the same exposure to being around other adults. She cried the entire day and around 2pm we received a phone call that she had a fever and we needed to pick her up. This is one of the reasons why we had switched initially from a childcare center to a nanny. A nanny can watch kids when they are sick. A childcare center cannot, and anyone who has been around kids knows that they are always sick! The dreaded thing about daycare fevers is that state policy says your kids must be fever-free for 24-hours before coming back. Which means if you get that call your child is out the rest of the day and all of the next day. So you are looking at missing two-days of work. Because my husband and I both teach classes it is often an interesting chess match of a phone call as we determine who has enough sick leave, whose class is more important, and can either of us get a substitute to fill in. We are both lucky to work in an organization with staff who understand and are flexible.
It’s interesting that I’ve received more comments this week than any week ever. As I wrote these long posts I wondered who could possibly be interested in my boring life, but then I realized how much I enjoyed reading all the other posts. So while our own lives may seem boring and uninteresting there is pleasure in being a virtual fly on the wall in someone else’s world.
I’ve received a few comments and emails asking me how I do it all. So I thought I’d share my secret with you. I don’t!
I’ve prioritized my life: family, career, education. I try to only be in the office 8-hours a day. When I’m not at work and my kids are awake I’m with them–physically and mentally. I maximize the precious time I have with them and do not multi-task. They get my undivided attention. Once they go to bed it’s time to focus on left over work from the day, career-related tasks, and school.
That sounds like a lot, but here’s what doesn’t get done. I don’t have as much time to hang out with my friends. We don’t watch TV. We don’t even have cable. I don’t cook or clean. My husband does the shopping and cooking (we eat a lot of take out). He does the yard work and some of the house cleaning. But seriously, the house is a mess, the yard is full of weeds, and even though Bree Van De Camp is my hero (I used to watch TV), I’ve accepted the fact that my house will not look like that for another 17 years.
I’ve found that the more I do the more energy I have and the more I am able to do. The law of inertia.
I’ve also found ways to maximize my time. I listen to audiobooks when I am in the car. During the school year when traffic gets bad I work 7-4 to avoid rush hour and wasted time in traffic. This also allows me to spend more time with my kids. I count my blessings that I work for a library that allows a flexible schedule like this. I have great child care which lets me to focus on work at work and home at home. I try to plan ahead so I can group tasks by time and proximity. For instance if I need to vacuum and do a load of laundry, I start the laundry first and vacuum while the laundry is going. It sounds simple but it really helps to save time when you plan all your tasks this way.
Speaking of tasks, I use Outlook to remember everything. Any random thought that has an action goes into Outlook Tasks, so I don’t have to keep thinking about it. Then tasks are categorized by how the action gets done (@work, @home, @computer, errand, someday maybe, waiting). I can then sort the tasks and get all the @computer ones done in one sitting, all the errands done together, and so on.
When I plan my day, I drag the highest priority tasks from the task list to the calendar so that time is allotted for each task. It sounds like a lot of work, but once you get accustomed to this way of doing things and see how much time you are saving you will wish you had been doing this for years.
I highly recommend the book Take Back Your Life. This book was life changing for me in managing my time. If you’ve been reading my posts this week, you already know that I am taking this to the next level with TROG (Total Relaxed Organization Guru). Kevin Crenshaw sent me a copy of the book and software to review so I’ll be blogging about that over the next month.
It has been a pleasure sharing my week with you. It’s 2am. Both kids now have fevers and have been waking up crying every 15 minutes. The saga never ends. But in the end that’s what the journey is all about!
I realized after reading other library day in the life posts that I neglected to explain what my job duties are. Right now my job is in transition from focusing primarily on technology training to coordinating the training, learning, and development of 550+ staff members. This change happened just a few weeks ago, so I am still in the process of developing a needs analysis–what does our staff need training in? But I’m also looking beyond that into what should our learning process look like? How do requests for new training get submitted and implemented? Who makes the final call on what gets done or not done, and how do we prioritize the needs?
When you think about staff development, what is the underlying goal? Instead of WIIFM (what’s in it for me) think about WIIFO (what’s in it for the organization)? Why does the library need my position?
The bottom line of any training or learning function is to improve the performance of the organization by improving the effectiveness of the employees. Yes there is value in lifelong learning. Yes we know that by providing staff with enrichment opportunities we will improve morale and decrease our turnover. But ultimately any position in any business has a bottom line. In the for-profit world training is often one of the first departments cut or reduced in tough economic times. Therefore in addition to providing added-value it is important to provide a bottom line value.
So on to my day…
- Woke up, showered, dressed, and ready to get out the door before anyone else in the house wakes up.
- Make sure I have my yoga clothes and mat for class tonight. Can’t find my keys. Look everywhere. Finally found them on the hook by the back door rather than on the hook by the front door. I have no idea how they got there. Suspect a 4-year-old involved.
- Morning commute with a stop at Chickfila. As always impressed by the consistent amazing customer service. Run through the mental list of things I need to do.
- Arrive at work. Feed my fish.
- Open work email and Gmail account.
- Respond to a blog reader who is interested in becoming a children’s librarian or school media specialist.
- Received several emails and comments from vendors regarding yesterday’s post about needing to find the right tool for time/email/calendar/project management.
- Receive several emails about focus groups that I have placed on the training calendar but I am not coordinating so forwarded them to the appropriate people.
- Rescheduled the location of a meeting next week due to a conflict with another meeting scheduled in the same place.
- Emailed back and forth about dates for upcoming training and finally resorted to a phone call. (Sometimes the phone is the best option!)
- Chat with Stephanie Zimmerman for a few minutes to see how her Outlook training is coming along.
- Stopped by the Communications Department for a meet and greet to welcome the new Public Information Specialist.
- Had a group discussion about time management and what people use. Most people present use paper lists. One person uses the Outlook task list. Interesting to hear how other people do things, but that is why you are reading this, right?
- Look at my bag of yoga clothes and realize it’s the last day in the semester. Call East Carolina to find out what happened to my application to be readmitted (I had to take a few semesters off when I had Cameron.)
- Found out that they need copies of my current transcripts to make sure I am in good standing.
- Print out and complete the form to have my transcripts evaluated.
- Receive a phone call from an employee who is having a problem but does not want to discuss it officially.
- Send out an email reminder about a meeting next week.
- Edit minutes from a meeting that happened last month. Create a list of action items and due dates. Email to the group.
- Prepare for a team meeting that will take place later this week.
- Receive a phone call from my husband that our nanny needs us to pick up the kids by 3pm Friday.
- Call nanny to check in and she asks if she can be off on my husband’s next day off–which is next Wednesday. (This is the only good thing about him working weekends.)
- Send an ecard to a coworker who is having a birthday. Happy birthday Kim!
- Try to complete an application for a state library training program but the Web site is down.
- Work on a draft of an email about a change in our training software.
- Add names to a list of accounts to create for Wimba Classroom.
- Registered for ASTD meeting on Thursday and emailed other people in our library who might be interested.
- Meet a coworker in the lobby so we can go to lunch and a seminar on social media and marketing together.
- While I’m waiting assist two customers at the Circulation Desk.
- While I’m waiting get approached by an employee who needs training created for staff for a new procedure and system that their department wants to implement by the end of the month (in two weeks). Ask her to email me the details. This happened last month with two other departments and I had to work 12-hour days for a week to get it all done. Note to self to communicate with departments the need to plan ahead for training and not wait until the last minute. This reaffirms to me that I need a project management system so I can prioritize these requests and map out a time line.
- Go to lunch and talk about…work.
- Arrive early to this seminar and glad I brought my bag with me as they need ID to let us in the building.
- 2-hour seminar given to staff at an area business on social networking and marketing. Very inspiring and informative. I took 8 pages of notes (which I’ll transcribe in a separate post).
- Walk back to work.
- Leave work to go to my yoga class. One of the few required courses left to finish my undergraduate degree.
- Arrive at class, turn in my final paper, and find out there is no actual class tonight as the instructor has a pinched nerve in his neck. Relieved as this means I get to go home and see my kids before they go to bed (if the 4-year-old even goes to bed). This 8-weeks of Tuesday and Thursday night classes has been so hard on my family. On Tuesdays I leave before my kids wake up. I get home after they’ve gone to bed. The next morning I leave for work before they get up. So after Monday night they don’t see me until Wednesday night. I’m so thankful the rest of my classes can be taken online.
- Commute home and traffic is extra bad because of the time and the route home from school.
- Arrive home and I’m the first one here. I have the house to myself. Total silence. Relaxing.
- I eat some veggies left over from the party and check my email.
- Husband arrives home with the kids. 7pm is the 1-year-old’s bedtime and she still needs to be fed and changed. She’s tired and grumpy.
- After Cameron devours two bananas and starts throwing cheerios at me I decide to give her a bottle of milk to settle her down. Enjoy the 10 minutes we spend gazing into each others eyes and feel sad that she will soon be too old to take a bottle in a month or so.
- Wrangle Cameron into her pajamas. Give up on trying to snap any snaps. Put her in her crib and she screams for 30 seconds then falls asleep.
- Go downstairs and open a wine cooler left over from the party. Find my husband negotiating with our son about when he will eat his dinner. Ian refuses to eat his PB&J so I put it in the fridge. The two go outside to play soccer. I have a few minutes of peace.
- Start a load of laundry.
- My son wants to know if he can say, “holy cow.” I tell him it’s probably ok at home but not at “school” (what we call his nanny’s house). Ian says “holy cow” about 50 times before we have to intervene and tell him it’s not ok to say it all the time.
- Husband takes son upstairs to go to bed. Son suddenly decides he wants to eat dinner. He comes downstairs and tries to negotiate juice or milk rather than his sandwich.
- Now he wants to know what words he is not allowed to say. I tell him I’ll have to think about it.
- Son has eaten his sandwich, had milk, and goes upstairs to bed. My husband takes his laptop upstairs and lays down on the floor in his room. Ian will not go to sleep if one of us is not in the room.
- I am downstairs writing this post.
- I am almost finished with this post and need to go put the clothes in the dryer. I also need to figure out where my husband put the mail so I can pay the bills, iron, eat dinner, read daily sheets from the nanny for both kids and see if she needs extra clothes or supplies.
- Look over my task list that I created yesterday. I completed about half the items on the list today. Mental pat on the back. Need to add items to the list so I can sleep tonight.
- Trying to imagine what the night would have been like had my 2-hour yoga class not been canceled.