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Lifelong Learning - The Power of an Hour (November 2014)
By: Dr. Lu Sweet
We have four drivers in our house and three cars. I have volunteered to be the one without the car. Some people have asked me why I don't just drop off one of the teenagers and keep the car for myself. For the sake of my family's schedule, me WITHOUT a car actually makes the most sense. My roommate drops off the youngest four kiddos to four different schools every morning and then picks them up in the afternoon. My oldest two drive themselves separately since they also go to different schools. We currently have six kiddos attending six different schools.
I catch a ride, ride my bike or jog to work. Even on chilly days, it's really not that bad. It's only a bit over two miles each way and it really doesn't take that long. I enjoy the extra workouts each day and it gives me time to mentally prepare for work or unwind in the evening before getting home. I've had people I know pull over and ask me if I wanted a ride. Even though I appreciate their offers, I turn them down and I enjoy my opportunity. Added together, these bike or jog trips to and from work, take me less than an hour total.
If you stop and think about it, one hour out of a twenty-four hour day constitutes just 4.2% of my day. While I am on these jogs or bike rides, I've been thinking about how little time it actually takes to make a difference; how the "power of an hour" could really help me accomplish other things as well as my extra workouts.
I know I've been guilty of saying "I just don't have the time" when really, it's probably more accurate if I'd say, "I don't feel like doing that", or "I'd rather do something else". I am going to try to take just one hour per day beyond the one I'm taking for running/biking to and from work, and I'm going to really focus on making it powerful. I'm going to see exactly what I can accomplish in the "power of an hour".
We've started maximizing my roommate's "taxi service" to and from school with the kids. During the trip to school, every child in the car does some extra silent reading. Most children are required by their teachers to read a minimum of 15 (for younger children) to 30 minutes per day outside of school. This extra reading helps a child stay proficient in their grade level reading skills provided the reading materials are at their grade level. (On a side note, parents can obtain lists of appropriate grade level reading materials from their child's teacher.)
In the afternoon, when she picks them up, my roommate gets to ask each child how their day was and have some meaningful conversations with them. She also asks them what kinds of homework we will be working on with them once they get home. All of this is accomplished in the power of an hour in the morning and in the afternoon.
I realize that even if I want to unwind and watch TV, I can fold laundry while doing it. I can sit next to my child at the table while they do homework and be available to help them, while I'm paying bills, writing thank you notes, or planning out grocery lists. If I am able to utilize the power of even one extra hour each day, by combining these tasks for example, there's no telling what extra things I might get accomplished within a day. My hope is that I will be able to use it for EXTRA time with my children.
I remember the lyrics to the song "Cats in the Cradle" when the dad says to his son "we'll get together soon son" over and over because he's too busy doing other things to spend time with him, even playing catch for a few minutes. The little boy idealizes his dad and tells himself he's going to grow up and be just like his daddy. Time passes and the son comes home from college and tells his dad that he can't sit and talk but they'll get together soon. As the song ends the dad is retired and he calls his son. He asks if they can get together and the son says "I'd love to Dad, if I could find the time…it's been sure nice talking to you, Dad." It's then that the Dad realizes his son DID grow up to be just like him-too busy to spend a few minutes.
I don't ever want to be that "busy". I'm going to work on adding the "power of an hour" into my day, knowing that I still only have twenty-four hours a day within which to operate, but that I can be better organized, efficient and prepared so that I can add an extra 4.2% (or more) of quality time into my day.
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