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Balancing My Schedule to Find Myself

The following piece was submitted recently to The Simply Stated Blogger Contest for Real Simple magazine in response to the question:  What was the most difficult thing you had to give up in order to balance your schedule?  It wasn’t selected as a finalist (sniff, sniff); on the upside, though, I am now free to share it with you here. 

The late 1980s were a blur of lazy weekends curled up on a favorite chair or under the shade of umbrella with Arthur Miller, Joyce Carol Oates, Edith Wharton, and Alice Walker.  The early ‘90s brought a job, an income, and the ability to traipse to the latest independent film, museum installation, or Broadway play.  Feeding my intellect—if not my stomach at any variety of Indian, Ethiopian, or Lebanese restaurants—was de rigueur.  I craved creative pursuits—gardening, knitting, interior design.

But I was a hedonist with a longing—the desire to parent.  And in 2004, with the arrival of our first son, I experienced an entirely new set of rhythms, and it became quickly apparent that my literary masters and weekend getaways were going to have to wait patiently in the wings; my garden would have to make room for sandboxes and seesaws; and any interior design would have to take the form of touching up paint chips courtesy of wayward Matchbox cars.

Today I have three beautiful boys, two dogs, a full-time job, and a host of avocations.  And while life looks nothing like it did in decades past, I accede wholeheartedly that it shouldn’t.  I get up an hour before my family every day.  Significant cooking is done on Sundays for the week.  Grocery-shopping is accomplished in 18-minute clips of free time between when I get out of work and when I pick up my children from school.  I am committed to two loads of laundry a day as opposed to ten on the weekends.

These small time-savers that I have learned to integrate over the last eight years have revealed possibilities—a monthly book club, the occasional date night, time to write, and a mother who is able to be herself.

About Samantha

Samantha Hines lives with her family in Newport, RI, and is a high school English teacher (twenty-four years and running). In the last several years, she has published in ADDitude and Adoptive Families magazines; and her blog, My Three Sons, was named by Adoptive Families as one of the Top Twenty Adoption Blogs on the internet. She is also the author of "Different Drummer," a blog about her son who was recently diagnosed with ADHD. In September 2012, she began her Ph.D. in Humanities at Salve Regina University. You can follow My Three Sons on Facebook and her blog at

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  • Lisa

    I am right there with you!!! Thank you as always for sharing.


  • Rsiravo

    Having four sons, I know exactly how you feel. Now that the boys are grown and somewhat independent, we miss the time catering to them and naturing their every need. but I must admit Deb and I are enjoying this new phase of life…reading, kayaking, traveling etc Just enjoying each others company. xo

  • Cassiekay2007

    Great article! I agree, it is those small timesavers that make such a difference! I need to implement them!

  • Kathi

    Memories! Your piece takes me back to when I too was shifting gears and beginning my parenting journey. Our son is now 35 years old. Although parenting still continues in a different manner, I now am retired from my profession and have returned to some former pleasures and have learned some new ones. Parenting has many significant highs and some unexpected lows; however, I would not have missed any of them.

  • Haydee

    I am with you. Thank you for sharing this beautiful essay, one which inspires me to write something to for Real Simple, which always crosses my mind when I see them publish their topic each month. I, too, am mommy to three beautiful children (preschool twin girls and a baby boy) and find myself struggling to find time for ME while also working full time. I am blessed to enjoy the time I spend with them and my dear husband, whenever I can, but it seems I am always multi-tasking and watching the clock! Good luck and thanks for sharing, again.

    • Samantha Hines

      Thank you so much for your note! I always think about how years from now I’ll be back on my favorite perch reading or strolling through a museum and wondering why my grown children don’t call as much as I’d like! I, too, am so grateful for the time I have with my children now. My best to you and your family! –Samantha