Living the Jenga schedule

Ever have one of those moments when you realize that your day is so stacked with events and errands and appointments that everything must be aligned just so in order to accomplish it all?  That, my friends, is where I’m at — trapped in “the Jenga schedule.”

Everything hinges on those two blocks...

Everything hinges on those two blocks…

Each entry on the calendar can’t be moved or rescheduled. Each is balanced so precisely that if one appointment runs over, if one train crossing takes too long, or if I make one wrong turn, the whole shebang will just implode like a pile of wooden bricks.

It’s all about sequencing. Every mom I’ve ever met can mentally project a 3D grid of all the times and places she needs to be at any given moment and where she needs to go next. She can map the quickest way to get Child A to Event D, while arranging Child B to play over at Friend E’s house, so that Child C can make his music practice in time. And she can keep tabs on whether Dog has had a walk or is whiling away the hours munching on various hand knit items and whether Husband has a meeting tonight — in which case, the one shot at dinner together has to happen precisely at 5:35 p.m.  And at the same time that she is driving a van full of kids and friends and instruments, she is mentally reviewing the contents of the fridge to see if she can actually cobble together that aforementioned dinner without having to visit the grocery store — which there’s no time to do.

See? You’re living the Jenga schedule too, aren’t you?

We’ve had a few shaky blocks already this morning:

    • It’s the first day back to school for us after the holiday break, and my oldest son overslept.  He made it out the door on time, but I know he hates that rush-rush feeling as much as I do.
    • S and I also slept through the alarm. Not a good day for getting up on time./li>
    • E’s winter coat ripped on a shopping cart yesterday, and I forgot to fix it until 5 minutes ago. It’s a horrible patch job, but I’m hoping it’ll do.
    • I just got a message from a doctor that I have an appointment later on today — an appointment with a doctor I’ve never met, that I know I never made, and that isn’t on the calendar. That one I will be canceling. All it did was cause me to question the schedule for a bit. Belief that I’ve jotted down all appointments on the big joint calendar is the matrix within which our family functions. There is no room for doubt without everything coming apart.
    • I’m out of coffee. This may be the shakiest brick of all.

How’s your schedule looking today?

About thethingaboutjoan

Mom of three who knits a little, bakes a lot, crafts a bit and blogs about it all.
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30 Responses to Living the Jenga schedule

  1. I love this analogy!! And it is so true — so much of our lives are based on how certain events go and how those effect the next set of events and so on.

    • Crazy, isn’t it? It’s a little like the butterfly effect, but hopefully on a smaller scale. I do worry sometimes that I haven’t left enough time to get from point A to point B. And I’m totally sunk if the weather doesn’t cooperate — not a good plan in Chicago! 🙂

  2. Clever turn of words there. I feel the challenges fo the Jenga schedule often.

  3. Cul de Sac says:

    Ah, this is my life to a T minus the music classes! I’m so happy we decided to cut down on activitoes during the week 🙂 sometimes i wonder how we make it crammed in all one day…

    • I think having only one car + three kids increases the feeling that the schedule is completely out of control. Things have to be scheduled consecutively (allowing for travel time etc) rather than simultaneously and that makes me feel a little more harried than normal. But I’m going to revisit the activities the kids are in to see if we can cut back or at least car pool! 🙂

  4. amyp22 says:

    You just spoke of my daily life. My theme song goes like this: I’m in a hurry to get things done. All I do is rush, rush, rush until life’s no fun!

  5. Same here, except mine is not in school yet! 🙂 Today was a hard and busy day for us too, even my parents showing up without any notice made me so stressed and baby crying 🙂 I believe your post is very accurate and most parents can relate 🙂 Hope your evening will be better 🙂

    • Oh my — I totally remember those days. It’s like having the Jenga schedule all within the four walls.

      For me, things had to happen in a certain order or I’d have cranky kids and cranky me to deal with. I know I couldn’t have handled a pop-in visit — things weren’t terribly flexible between eating, cleaning up, naps and laundry. Hope you’re having a lovely evening! Here’s to early bedtime! 🙂

      • Thank you , you too! cranky me , never, no just kidding, I’m a bit cranky now, waiting for hubby to come back from work, baby was so exhausted, he didn’t take his nap because he was too cranky and now he fell asleep , so this means ; no early bedtime for us tonight! 🙂 ha!ha! I will wake him up soon 😉

  6. alenaslife says:

    Such a great analogy Joan. Plus, another thing we share, Downton Abbey love. Even my boys are fans, either that or they really didn’t want to fo to bed last night because it really meant Christmas break was over.
    I hope your Jenga tower stays neatly upright, but know we’re all here to help you pick up the pieces when it topples.

    • Whew — made it through yesterday’s reality Jenga game. It’s a much more heart-stopping adventure when you are trying to wrap up an appointment so that you can play “beat the bus home.” Lots of fun that. Sigh.

      Downton Abbey was so worth the wait, don’t you think? I adore that show. Maggie Smith deserves an Emmy in my book. She’s just fantastic.

  7. Oh, this is so great Joan! We have a few scheduled activities right now but I know in no time I’ll be in the exact same boat you’re in trying to juggle everything! It amazes me how people with multiple children in multiple things manage it all but like everything else I guess it must become routine and it gets figured out…of course, always on that teetering edge though!!! Great post!

    • Thanks, Melissa! You know, I didn’t really think we had very many activities this year. I thought I’d sifted through the extraneous stuff and went with the ones the kids really liked. But then suddenly there’s an extra practice or new event (Scouting really has a lot going on!), and wham! I’m trying to figure out how to warp space and time to make it all work. It’s like skiing down a really steep hill — you don’t think you’re going fast at all so you push along with your poles and suddenly you’re flying out of control.

      I’m told I’ll miss these hectic days. That’s what I’ve been promised. 🙂

  8. This is a great comparison. I do have to say I am past the Jenga schedule now, but I sympathize whole heartedly with each and everyone of you wonderful Mom’s that are constantly in a state of Jenga. My hats off to you all.

  9. Clever phrase you coined — deserving of a magazine article I think!

  10. Yes, I feel like I’m doing the jenga schedule a lot, although I’m still in the phase where I’m trying to get home in time for the kids’ naps. Everyone says that it gets even more complicated as they get older, and have school and more activities!

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