Friday, September 17, 2010

Going Swimmingly (Babble)

We’ve settled into a nice routine here in our busy house.  It was hard trading the flexibility of the anything goes summer schedule for the necessary rigidity of our fall days, but I think we’ve all adjusted to it.  I have to keep a breakdown of each day posted in the kitchen so I can keep everything straight, but so far so good.  We’ve mapped out which days each of us cooks what meal, who does the drop offs and the pick ups, choir, violin lessons, neighborhood recess, bath nights, rehearsals….  It makes my head spin a little, but writing it down seems to help make it look less overwhelming.

I’ve never been someone interested in scheduling my kids for organized activities, but it just seems to happen.  I prefer coming up with our own fun, and my kids put together dinosaur picnics and create dragons from paper and like to do puzzles and and play with clay, etc., so they don’t lack for things to do on their own, but some things just require us to sign on, pack up and head out.  Both girls do violin lessons and choir, and Quinn and Mona are in swimming lessons.  If you count family movie night on Fridays and the optional neighborhood recess, there is something on every day of the work week.  Seems a bit much to me, but everyone likes everything so there’s no reason to cut any of it out.

There are two very nice things for me and Ian in the new schedule, though, and we’ll have to figure out a way to keep them when we have to reconfigure the schedule next year when he starts working for the Army again a couple of days a week.  The first thing is that each of us gets one day off during the week.  Mine is a designated building day where I get to work in my home shop building my own instruments.  I’ve started a new violin and I’m really happy about it.  On my day I get to sleep in and I don’t have to make any of the trips to the school unless I feel like it.  So far on Ian’s day off he’s mostly put in time getting filing and computer work done at the violin store, but he’s off kid duty at least, and he knows he could choose to do something else if he wanted to.  Of course, we each still end up helping each other out and playing with Quinn after lunch and running errands, but it’s nice to know on one day you have permission to opt out if you really need to and not feel bad about it.  I love my day off.  It makes all the demands on me the rest of the week far more bearable.

The other thing is that we’ve firmly put exercise time into the schedule.  Three days a week we go together to drop off the kids at school and then drive straight to the YMCA to swim.  (The true advantage of running your own business is being able to set your hours to fit your life a little better.  We don’t have to open until 10:30, so there is enough time to exercise and change before going to work.)  I had high hopes for trying to get in better shape while Ian was away, but once I started the process of moving whatever extra time I didn’t have to start with, vanished.  I gave up any idea that it was even possible to exercise at that point because I couldn’t handle one more thing.  I ate cookies, avoided the scale, and tried not to think about it.

But now Ian is home and Quinn is in school in the mornings, so it’s a whole new world.  Three times a week I swim a mile.  I’d like to work something else in, too, someday, but for now this works.  And my approach is different.  I don’t have time to concentrate on getting in better shape as if it’s another job.  I’m not counting calories or weighing myself.  I’m going to try just eating what looks reasonable and keeping up with our exercise routine, and if in a few months I don’t notice any difference I’ll reevaluate what I’m doing, but until then I’m content that this is a lifestyle I can maintain.  It’s a start.

I’m hoping my kids will be the kind of people who enjoy exercise.  They are certainly active, and they love swimming at the Y and biking and running around, and I encourage all of that.  But I hate exercise.  Swimming is the only activity along those lines that I can tolerate.  It comes easily and I’m cleaner at the end of it.  Running drives me crazy because I think loudly to myself with every single step how much I hate running.  Walking is fine but only if I have a place to go.  I’m too goal oriented to walk just for the sake of walking.  Same thing with biking–I need to know where I’m going first or else I get irritated.

But swimming is nice.  I don’t like being up early to do it, and that initial shock of getting into the water never improves, but I once I get going I can splash along for 45 minutes to do my mile with no problem.  The one thing I’d like to fix, though, is an easier way to count my laps.  Counting gets so boring, and it would be nice to let my mind wander a little.  I sometimes do different strokes for odd vs. even  laps just to help keep straight where I am, but ideally I’d like to let the numbers go.  I keep envisioning some kind of abacus like contraption to put at the end of my lane so that I can just flick beads across each time I reach that end so I don’t have to keep numbers in my head.  Or a bracelet that does something similar, where I slide beads over and when I’ve moved 36 of them I know I’m done.

In the meantime I use my memory.  Not just to remember the actual number, but to keep the number interesting.  While I swim I try to think of something relevant to do with whatever number I’m on.  One I don’t need help remembering, two is how old I was at the time of my first memories, three is Quinn’s age, four is how old he’ll be soon and I think about what he wants for his party, five is how old Aden was when her dad came back from his first deployment, six is Mona, seven was yellow on a puzzle I had as a kid, eight is Aden, nine is how old she will be soon (I can’t believe my baby is going to be nine), ten is all my fingers and I think about the scars on my thumbs or the ring I’m wearing…. at fourteen I had a Rubik’s cube themed birthday, at fifteen my kids will have driver’s permits….  at eighteen they’ll vote….  what did I do on my twenty-first birthday?….  The writers of the Sid Caesar Show thought thirty-two was the funniest number and I think they’re right….  at thirty-four I had Mona, what will Aden be doing when she’s thirty-five?  Thirty-six is the last one yay yay yay!  It’s a little disconcerting that the number of my current age is higher than the number of laps in a mile in the YMCA pool, but oh well.  If I wanted to count really high I could keep track of lengths instead of laps and go up to eighty-two, but that sounds like too many distracting thoughts rattling around my brain during one swim.  The result of this kind of counting is I finish exercising feeling a little nostalgic instead of just tired.  For someone who doesn’t like to exercise in the first place that’s the best I’m going to do.

I like that Ian and I are trying to set a good example for our kids regardless of our own inclinations about incorporating necessary physical activity into our lives.  If we’re lucky, our kids will grow up thinking that’s just what you do, you make time in your schedule for things like swimming.  I just hope they develop a joy for things like running instead of a grudging resignation.  Despite my genetic input, it could happen!

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