Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Do I have time?

Since the beginning of September, I have been, for the first time, a Mummy Whose Children Are At School.  As a result of this, I’ve been having a very frustrating conversation with the Voice of Reason (VoR) that lives inside my head. It goes like this:

Me: Wow, this is fantastic!  Five days a week to myself!  I’ll finally write my novel and start another book, and get properly involved with all sorts of things I’ve been on the edges of, and get some exercise and get the house tidy and enjoy reading some new books and be able to see some of my friends and have coffee and play my cello more and…
I'm not sure what this is, but it's certainly how my schedule feels!

VoR: No.  Sorry.  You won’t.

Me: What do you mean?

VoR: You won’t have time for all that.

Me: But that’s the whole point!  I will, I will have time!  Oodles of time!  Five whole days of lovely, glorious time!

VoR: Look, you want to write, don’t you?

Me: Of course.  More than anything.

VoR: Well, there you are, then.  That’s all you’ll have time to do.  None of this house tidying, exercising, cello-playing nonsense.

Me: hard can it actually be?  Other people manage to have a job AND a tidy house AND a hobby, I know they do!  I do realise it won’t happen all at once, but surely, if I just spend half an hour a day cleaning, I’ll eventually have a clean house.  And an hour a day walking isn’t that much, is it?

VoR: Listen to me, Amy.  You never were any good at maths, were you?  How many hours - child-free ones - do you actually have in the day?

Me: Ummm....about six. Say five to be safe after doing drop-off and pick-up and having a few cups of tea.

VoR: Right.  And if you spend an hour a day exercising, and half an hour cleaning and half an hour reading a book while you eat lunch, many will be left?

Me: Three.  Wait, what?!  Only three?  How is that poss…

VoR: I haven’t finished.  Three hours a day times five days a week is how many hours?

Me: Fifteen.  That still sounds OK, actually, I reckon I could…

VoR: So let’s take off an hour to play the cello once a week, that’s fourteen.  And two more for coffee with friends, though if you include the time it takes to drive into town and back and the fact that you know you’re going to sneak shopping in while you’re there…

Me: Fine, all right, I get it.  We’re down to about ten hours a week.

VoR: Yes, and how much time did you spend writing when you only had Jeremy’s playgroup hours and so didn’t do anything else?

Me: Twelve hours a week.  Oh, RATS. I’m worse off, aren’t I?

VoR: You are unless you admit to yourself that you can’t do everything.

Me: But other people do. I’m sure that they do.  HOW do they do it?!

At which point the Voice of Reason shrugs and shakes its head, so if anybody knows the secret, I’ve love for them to clue me in.  

In the end, though I may have a pesty Voice of Reason in my head talking me out of every ambition, there’s another voice worth listening to.  A voice that calls “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).  A voice that reassures: “I have called you by name; you are mine” (Isaiah 43:1).  A voice that reminds me not to claim anything as coming from me, but that any competence comes from Him (2 Corinthians 3:4-6).

It would be worth my while to put some real time aside to listen to that voice.  Say, an hour every morning?

Amy Robinson is a writer, performance storyteller and ventriloquist, and the children’s worker in her benefice.  She has written three books about puppetry and storytelling, published by Kevin Mayhew, and provides scripts and materials for GenR8, a Cambridgeshire charity running Christian assemblies and events in schools.  In her spare time, she writes poetry and makes attempts at novels.  She lives in a rectory in Suffolk with the rector, two children and lots of puppets. You can also find her on her web page or her new blog.


  1. Haha I understand that conversation all too well! I think we get giddy with all the free time we have, that we forget that it isn't that much at all! And don't forget assemblies, plays, sports days.........Harumph!

  2. I love this. My VoR sucks, but I love the other Voice you mention. My house is dirty and cluttered and my garden is so overgrown it's embarrassing. But, there's time to write.

  3. Oh so well said Amy. Thank you. And I finally understand what those verses in 2 Corinthians 3 about competence are on about.... takes a while for the penny to drop (bless) x

  4. The only other solution is a time turner like Hermione Granger! Good post, Amy.

  5. Someone once said to me, 'Estimate the time you think it'll take. Then double it.' It works every time! Bizarre!

  6. Thanks for this, Amy. And Amy B Pye, I see even you can't do everything either. Consoling. But it seems like Wendy Jones manages to do loads. Oh, but she writes full time and I have two jobs, a house to clean, church and... Perhaps we all do have the same time after all!!

  7. I recently became a person-who-no-longer-has-to-go-to-work-(retired). I thought I would be able to settle the world peace problem, write several best sellers, read all the classics I only ever half-read years ago as a student, set up a consultancy business, learn to speak a few more languages, landscape the garden, join a gym, run a marathon . . . 'Nuff said!! But I'm enjoying life a lot more now that I've worked out what I really want to do and factored in plenty of fun and relaxation activities. Don't sweat the small stuff - enjoy your extra child-free time and don't wreck it by stuffing it overfull. God does not want us to strive - abide in his love.