Catching Up On Life

I recently met up with a good friend at a sports practice for our children. She was sitting on the lobby floor of the ice skating rink, with papers spread all around her. I asked, with great curiosity, “what are you doing”? She replied, “I am trying to catch up on life”.

In the crazy world of working motherhood, we spend much of our time reacting to the events of the day or week. It can become a scramble. As I often describe, the pace is so fast and the demands so great, it is a bit like driving an Indy Car. You buckle up and just hope that the car does not go off the track. It is an unusual luxury to create time and space to assess all of life’s pieces collectively and to make order. My friend was doing just that. She was trying to catch up on all the “little things” that had been neglected because of more urgent demands.

The more that I thought about “catching up on life” the more important it became. Without time to catch up, life feels scattered and out of control. A little catch up here and there helps to add sanity to an otherwise wild world. In my life, catch up falls into three categories: 1) Administrative, 2) Clean up/Clean Out and 3) People.

Administrative catch up is not glamorous but can create great order and clarity of mind. On Sunday nights I create a small window of administrative catch up to assess the week ahead and create a schedule of all the events and demands for our family. The schedule includes the details of my kids’ lives: sports practices, school events, major homework projects and my schedule: work travel, meetings, etc. This is something that I do well. It has become routine and it structures the madness of our family. Now that my children are old enough to read, my printed schedule enables them to anticipate what will happen during the week and to participate in the planning. It sits in a special binder on our kitchen counter for everyone to see and amend if needed. What I would like to do better is the administration that involves the rest of the world: 1) scheduling doctor appointments, 2) home repairs, etc. Because of my work schedule, I do not make “catch up” time when the rest of the world is working too.

Clean Up and Clean Out is sort of like physical administration of your life. My husband and I just ordered a dumpster to purge the items from our house that we have outgrown. High Chairs, baby seats, our favorite Levi’s from college. By cleaning up and cleaning out, we are catching up to where our life has evolved. The act of cleaning up and cleaning out creates a great sense of peace for me. When I walk into my house after a big clean up, all is right with the world.

People are the special sauce in life.  The most rewarding catching up is definitely with friends and family. When I was a child, my mother worked. She set an incredible example of how to “catch up” on the human connections. Some of the most special occasions of my childhood were the “mental health days” that my mom instituted for our family. She believed that a day together was worth a day of missing school. Instead of missing school because we were sick, we missed school because we were well and were “catching up on life”. So once or twice a year, she would choose a day to spend time, alone, with myself or my brother. It was brilliant and very special. When I think about catching up on human connections, there are many people that I consider: my kids, my husband, my friends and of course myself. Catching up doesn’t requiring planning anything special. It is often as simple as slowing down. But sometimes it is helpful to declare the time as “catch up” time.

Make time to “catch up”. Don’t look at it as a chore but rather as an opportunity to feel more settled, productive and organized. Whatever the loose ends in your life may be, they deserve your time and attention.