Image courtesy of Jarapet. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.
I have come up with a fail-safe way to test whether you are ready to have children at This Moment in Your Life. Ready? Here it is:
- Go to the zoo during the first nice-weather Saturday in the last two weeks.
- Meander on over to the tamarin exhibit.
- Decide whether you think that the five-year-old screaming, “AHHHHHH” every time the tamarins move for two minutes straight provokes an “awwww” response out of you or an “AHHHHH” of your very own. If the latter, maybe hold off on spawning!
I spend so little of my time around children, particularly children in groups. Hell, I spend very little of my time around adults that are not in the 18-22 range, or at least did before I got a job. (My coworkers have children! And hobbies that are not drinking and being sad! Truly it is a brave new world.) After being in Senegal last year, I thought my view towards them had softened. I had been around kids! They didn’t hate me!
I had forgotten what happens when the children clump together. Because then? All bets are off.
Children aside, the zoo was great fun. I spend so much of my class time learning about non-human primates via YouTube videos that I forget that you can, you know, go look at them for real. Which I did! Much to my excitement, our gorilla troupe had a newborn, and she was out, and it was phenomenally cute. Because if that infant was making noise? I couldn’t hear it!
A few weeks ago, I read my way through 168 Hours, which is just on the right side of the self-help/pop-science divide to be readable for me. The premise of the book is to think of your week as made up of 168 discrete hour-long units, and then decide how to spend your time based on what portion of your 168 hours you want to allot to different areas. It’s the basis for a lot of Jen Dziura‘s time management advice, which I pretty much quote constantly, because it consists of things like:
In Bullish: Maybe Work-Life Balance Means You Should Work MORE, I suggested that to live an optimal life, you should ruthlessly identify and cut from your life any activity that is not either extremely pleasurable or extremely productive. — How Many Minutes of Your Life Have Been Stolen by ScarJo’s Ass and Various Kardashians?
My favorite piece of the advice from the book, though, was Laura Vanderkam’s advice to actually plan things for the weekend. This helps for two reasons: one, it gives you something to look forward to when you’re not at work (thus helping with my tendency to, when I am not at work, either work more or sleep), and two, it allows you to actually increase your happiness over the weekend rather than screwing around for 48 hours in a way that is not memorable.
So that’s what I’ve been doing. This week I did the zoo. Last week, I hosted a conference. The rest of the past month has consisted of going to Texas, sucking at using a trampoline, and seeing Watsky in concert. This is so much more activity in my life than I am used to.
And honestly? It has made me so much happier than I was in the previous several months, even though at the same time many of the other 168 hours of the past few weeks have been occupied by stress and fear and sadness. Rigidly scheduling fun activities into my life as an obligation (because I can’t be truste to do this kind of functional self-care on my own) has hands-down improved my quality of life.
In fact, I already have my next-weekend activities planned: I’m going to a field trip! To see flint knappers! And I am looking forward to it, and I am excited, and it’s good. Stay tuned for photos if I don’t die in a tragic flint accident.