where the time goes
Best o’ the Bitch, Parenting

Moms, Here’s Where the Time Goes

Where did the time go?

You know what I’m saying — it feels like just yesterday that gorgeous girl who looks like a princess in her strapless prom gown was a toddler playing dress-up. That handsome young dude holding up his driver’s license was last seen playing with trucks on the living room floor. Even the dog who used to have a thick, dark coat that gleamed in the sun when she romped and played is sporting grays and spends hot days napping instead of frolicking.

Where does the time go? is the popular refrain when we look at pictures of our growing, growing, (sniff) gone babies.

As we age especially, time feels like an over-caffeinated bitch, speeding away and laughing at you as it leaves you in the dust desperately trying to figure out where the hell it went.

Neuroscientists like David Eagleman have good explanations for why this is  — beginning with the fact that the passage of time is a perception, not a clear-cut sensory experience like smell, touch, taste, and sight. While these faculties reside in distinct areas in the brain, time is embedded throughout the senses  — for example, in the persistence of a smelly diaper, the eternity of a screaming child’s temper tantrum, or the endless throb of a finger burnt when hurrying to make dinner.

How we perceive time is heavily dependent on how much new stuff we have to process. When you engage in the familiar, time flies. If you want to “slow down time,” experts recommend taking actions to stimulate your brain and give it a bunch of novel information to process.

This is easy enough to pull off when you’re a kid, since almost everything is new to you. As an adult, you have to seek out fresh experiences to give your mind something to wrap itself around in order to slow it down: taking classes, visiting different places, meeting new people, picking up hobbies, getting engrossed in formerly unknown challenges, and making efforts to be spontaneous all help in the battle to ease the march of time.

When you put that in context of raising kids, it makes perfect sense. I have very clear memories of how long the days (and sleepless nights!) felt with my first child, and then just 20 months into it when a second one arrived, the time spent with her was a blur.

In other words, by round two I knew what to expect not just through some terrifying books — which was all I had to go on with the first one —  but from real life experience.

So if time is a bitch that gives the illusion that the days are long but the years are short, and our babies grow up so fast that our heads spin and hearts break, then what’s a mom to do?

In honor of Mother’s Day, I figured I’d just remind you of (some of) how much you do with and for your kids, and approximately how long that takes you to do it.

NOTE: I’m basing my assumptions on my own schedule and also on the hours that salary.com bases its estimates on by surveying 15,000 women annually for its “How Much Moms Are Worth” post. (Most recent stats are from 2014.)  FYI, I took an average amount of hours they cite for “working moms” and “at home” moms; I mean, c’mon, we all work our asses off! So take it with a vat of salt and adjust accordingly for your own lifestyle.

1) Food prep & service: This includes the full gamut: Grocery shopping (2 hours weekly), putting out snacks (1 hour weekly), cooking and serving meals (8 hours weekly).

Time spent over an 18-year period: 10,296 hours

2) Cleaning and tidying: In my house at least, this is constant, daily effort that spans the mundane (sweeping, doing the dishes, making beds, putting all the crap away) to the balls-out cleaning (closets anyone?) Approx. 11 hours/week.

Time spent over an 18-year period: 10,296 hours

3) Teaching our kids: From the time they’re little when we teach them to read, write, do crafts, play sports, etc. to older children whom we help with homework, teach to drive, cook, do their own damn laundry (!) — this takes approx. 10 hours/week. (Maybe it skews more when the kids are little, and less the older they get, but this feels like a good average to me =)

Time spent over an 18-year period: 9,360 hours

Additional: If you are a big time volunteer at school or for your child’s extracurricular activities, that weekly commitment number shoots up. 

4) Basking in the pride of watching your child do that thang s/he does: Whether it’s at a play, concert, recital, game, or any other place your child struts his/her stuff, you’re there. Approx. 8 hours/week (depending)

Time spent over an 18-year period: 7,488 hours

5) Driving: We surrender to the carpool and chauffeur the children to the ends of the Earth and back… or so it seems. Approx. 7 hours/week.

Time spent over an 18-year period: 6,552 hours

Additional: If your kid plays club sports and/or is on a travel team, add about a million hours a year, give or take.

6) Providing emotional support and counseling: Raising a child from infancy to adulthood requires providing a seemingly endless stream of support and when appropriate, intervention. We talk, we text, we email, and we sometimes say nothing at all — just offer a shoulder to cry on, a body to hug, and hand to hold onto. Approx. 7 hours/week.

Time spent over an 18-year period: 6,552 hours

7) Doing laundry: Laundry is outside of general cleaning and tidying, as it’s its own separate hell. Approx. 6 hours/week.

Time spent over an 18-year period: 5,616 hours

8) Taking care of the pets: We’d like to think the children help with this one — the feeding, walking, picking up shit, etc. — but at least in my house, not so much. Approx. 6 hours/week.

Time spent over an 18-year period: 5,616hours

9) Acting as the family “CEO”: Salary.com defines the family “CEO” work as providing “guidance, structure, and chart a course for success.” Plus damage control when things go wrong, and doing what it takes to improve the bottom line. Approx. 3 hours/week.

Time spent over an 18-year period: 2,808 hours

10) Taking care of your kids’ wellness, in sickness and in health: Assuming your child is relatively healthy, they have an average of 1-3 doctor visits a year (4 hours), 1-2 dental visits a year (3 hours), and 1-3 sick days a year (24-72 hours)

Time spent over an 18-year period, 1 child: 1,422 hours… multiplied by the number of children you have.

Additional: If your child has orthodontia, add approx. 9 hours per year. If your child has other conditions that require more care, be sure to add that as well. And if your offspring (or you for that matter) spend time in therapy, crank up that number — no sliding scale here, we’re counting hours!

GRAND TOTAL FOR THE FIRST 18 YEARS: Approx. 66,000 hours…3,960,000 minutes… 237,600,000 seconds… but that’s not accounting for the rest of it…

… the hours, minutes, and seconds we spend sending out love and/or wasting our time worrying. Often both simultaneously.

And it goes on to infinity and beyond, which is both a perception and a reality. Eighteen years is just for starters.

So if you see me hugging my mom on Mother’s Day, just know that I’m thanking her for the time she’s put into raising me from an infant to the adult I am today… not to mention the time she puts in with my children, too.

And if you wonder where the time went, stop counting the minutes and focus instead on the thing that is round the clock and persists through time: a mother’s love.

Because that, my bitches, springs eternal.

From one mutha to anutha, Happy Mother’s Day!

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4 Comments

  • Reply Stacy Hoffmann Sturm May 8, 2015 at 8:50 pm

    I love this Trudi! Thanks!!

  • Reply Trudi May 8, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    OMG Stacy if we put our two time clocks together, we’d probably break system of time keeping as we know it!! XOXO

  • Reply Helene Rosenthal May 11, 2015 at 11:43 pm

    Hi Trudi, It was a pleasure getting to know you this past softball season. I just had some time to sit down and peruse through your blog… fantastic! As a fellow Gen Xer, I enjoy your "voice" and look forward to following along to your future posts 🙂

  • Reply Trudi May 12, 2015 at 5:34 am

    Thanks Helene! So fun to spend some time with you in the stands! (Approx. 8 hours/month give or take=) Hope you had a great Mother’s Day! XO

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