Every couple of months I write some cry your eyes out post about how I am so busy. And I get some awesome responses from you guys in support, telling me to hang in there. I thank each and every one of you who has commented or even just read such a post. But as I continue to hit patches of busy-ness, writing more whining and complaining posts doesn't make for good compelling reading. Or even a cathartic writing experience.
I have yet again hit another such patch. While I have been quite busy at the office (which is a good thing), it is our current school situation that is the biggest culprit. My children and I now spend just shy of 12 hours of every week day outside of our home. And of my just over 12 hours spent in the home, 6-7 are spent sleeping, 2-3 are spent caring for the kids or preparing food and 1-2 are spent in other chore related ways, like emptying the dishwasher or making lunches. That leaves little time for the things that I love, like writing. No wonder I never talk on the phone.
So I have now carved out a love-hate relationship with food preparation. When I started this blog I was inspired by all that I read. I tried new things, even on a weeknight! But today making homemade food sometimes feels like a ball and chain. But what choice do I have? Muster up the energy to cook something simple like sausages and boiled veggies, or order food that will make us all feel sick. Last week I was exhausted fighting some cold and I couldn't even think of stepping foot into the kitchen. So we picked up some pizza. What a mistake. I spent the whole night queasy and I couldn't sleep. Some convenience. Yes, the kids ate with no drama-rama, but I have to imagine that their bellies were tender that night too.
I love the idea of a local, organic and non-processed diet. But I will not sit here and tell you that it is a sustainable lifestyle for most people. The vast majority of people lack the skills to make a non-processed lifestyle work with all the commitments they have in life. And my 'experiment' to prove that any family can eat all homemade foods has lead me to dozens of amazing and inspirational blogs kept by full time bloggers, stay at home mothers and home schoolers. That's awesome, but not all the tips really work for me. I am not home to try all these cool recipes out.
So after 18 months of blogging, I have come to one succinct conclusion. We are all just too damn BUSY! The modern American lifestyle is overstuffed with way too many activities and we have made room for them by cutting out things we really need to do like sleeping and preparing healthy food. And we continue to convince ourselves that we need junky convenience foods and faster smartphones in order to do more work and brain cell sucking activities like searching the Internet. But wait, are we convincing ourselves? Or is it the companies that are selling us the phones, computers and junk food?
Today, The average American workday is 7.5 hours. That makes sense, 8 hour day, 30 minutes for lunch give or take a few. That number has remained fairly constant over the years. In this link, you can see that weekly hours worked has remained the same since the mid sixties at about 40-41 hours total per week. That is actually slightly less than in the forties when the average weekly hours worked was slightly over 43 hours. But no huge difference over the years. Then tack on the average commute, which is today just shy of an hour per day, or over 100 hours each year. I guess I can keep on complaining because my work day is 9 hours each day and I can boast a whopping 2+ hours of commuting time each day.
The change in sleep over the last 100 years is much more dramatic. The average amount of daily sleep has gone from 9 hours in 1900 to 7 hours in the 1970's to just over 6 hours today. I myself admit to getting only 6 hours of sleep regularly. I shoot for 7 hours but don't really feel good unless I get a full 8 hours. The fact that kids are getting less sleep saddens me. Reports show that School aged kids today average only 9.5 hours of sleep each day when they should be getting more. That is less than kids were getting 30 years ago. Sleep is important for everything from physical repair to hormone regulation to supporting memory. I know all this, but so many nights I stay up writing this blog instead of turning off the electric lights and the ever portable iPad.
But naturally it is the time spent in front of TVs, computers and Internet capable phones that is so troubling. According to this study and the article published in Businessweek, kids are now using more than 8 hours of media per day. That includes cell phone and iPod usage, texting, Internet, gaming and TV watching. I don't even want to know how many hours I spend using media. It is virtually all day at work. And then between various personal Apple devices, I overdo it a little. The problem I find with this trend is not so much that we are watching so much TV or reading online, it is that we are not setting down the devices to prepare healthy foods. It is that we cannot turn off the computer to go to sleep. We seem so afraid that we will miss something. Surely this cannot be good for us. And our health is surely suffering from the lack of rest and the abundant 'convenient' food.
I don't mean to say that we should just utilize our time better. That's a cop-out like saying we need to eat less and exercise more to combat obesity. The biggest problem in being too busy today is that in order to stay socially connected in today's world we HAVE to be computer literate and text and stay up on Facebook. There aren't quills for letter writing, parlor visits or calling cards anymore. Companies are pushing you to not even get mail anymore by sending you your bill via email. We cannot live without technology. It is not going away. I don't think we will get any less busy than we are right now. I suppose it could get worse. It could turn into The Matrix.
I bounce between wondering if blogs like mine make a difference to anyone who eats the Standard American Diet and not having any effect whatsoever. Or does my writing into the ether just solidify a group of people who have all independently come to the same conclusion, that we are too busy and we need to make lifestyle changes in order to maintain our health? Are we visionaries? Are we cutting edge? Have we discovered the missing link that could save us from more health problems? Or are we the fringe? Are we the crazies? Are we the Miss Haveshams' still clutching our old failed dreams even as the world passes us by?
Wouldn't it be a wonderful world if we could all learn to live in balance. Do you think anyone will ever get that to catch on?
This post is shared with Simple Lives Thursdays