You just can’t do everything!

We all have things that occupy our time in a number of ways; work, family, hobby and a variety of obligations. A key skill is learning to manage and balance them!

My full time job sees me leave the house each morning circa 7am, and return home shortly after 6pm Monday to Friday. My wife has two part-time jobs, one of which has variable shifts. Therefore I often need to go into “Dad mode” as soon as I return home in the evening. Four children has its own set of responsibilities and time commitments, in terms of providing for them, supervising them and taking them where they need to be . . . needs which change and vary as the children grow up, but none of which I mind at all. Kids clubs, sports team practice, lifts to friends houses, horse riding lessons (how terribly bourgeois!) and so on. There’s always something going on that someone needs taking to or picking up from! A lot of things are in the queue for attention and a space on the Foley timetable! Weekends are often manic, so family “downtime” is cherished.

The truly selfless parent and spouse subdues their own needs in favour of those who depend upon them. Never a better example of that existed than my wife, who bar her gardening has virtually abandoned her own personal interests and hobbies, as she so rarely has the time due to putting others’ needs first all of the time. Whilst some would say that we all need to make a little time for ourselves to stay sane, my wife seems to be made of stoically stronger stuff! A lesson and example for us all.

I have a number of hobbies and interests that have varied in their time commitments over the years, and I have been lucky to have been able to pursue them to any extent given my family commitments as I’ve grown older. An abiding interest in miniatures wargaming had seen me not only amass a considerable collection of models, but also to spend time painting them, attending conventions, games nights at a club or friends house, reading around the subject in magazines and on forums and so on. In the past I’ve spent too much money (and a lot of time) on it. I’ve even started / hosted two podcasts about it, taking a couple of hours out of an evening at home each time I recorded. Although sharing the hobby occasionally with my son, nowadays it is something that can be put away / taken out when time allows, especially now that I don’t do the podcast any more.  Also, worries I’m spending too much money I haven’t got on it is not a concern as it’s mostly trade / barter with hobby friends these days. It doesn’t take the time it used to, but it sure comes in handy when my wife is watching something dull on the TV!

Another massive draw on my time is rugby. From the time he was old enough to play, I have assisted with the coaching of my son’s rugby team, and as a younger man, I played each week (including captaining an XV at my former club). Although I have stepped down from coaching of late and am far too old to play (!), I am still on hand as responsible adult for my son and assist with team matters / admin.  Other responsibilities at the rugby club have waxed and waned over the last few years, with a brief Indian summer in my own playing career, a stint on the club committee alongside two years as chairman of the Junior & Youth section of the club, and managing the girls team in addition to my continuing role as club webmaster. At one stage, within the last couple of years, I was gone for most of Saturday playing, out most of Sunday morning coaching my son, supporting my daughter / running the bar whilst she was playing on Sunday afternoon, with a combined 3 – 4 hours on two committee meetings (junior and senior) once a month. Then there was the admin associated with being chairman of the Junior section, and frequent attendance at / organisation of training courses for coaches. Rugby-wise, I was a busy man!

In addition to rugby and hobbies as mentioned above, a few years back I got involved with the local Village Pantomime amateur dramatic group. From September until the performances on the last weekend of January, two hours every Sunday night from 6pm (bear in mind the aforementioned Sunday rugby commitments!!), in addition to occasional extra read-throughs, planning meetings, dress rehearsals and all the hours required to learn lines ahead of performances, it was a big commitment. Don’t get me wrong – all those involved in the group with me are a fantastic and wonderful group of people, all of whom I am proud to count as friends. They all made it just as much fun socially, as well as the acting and entertaining being enjoyable. We all often socialise outside of panto too. It is (yet another) big commitment however.

My rugby commitments had evolved into simply being a touchline dad and unofficial team photographer for my son’s team, plus my continuing role as the club webmaster. I also try and watch / support my daughter as much as I can. However, I have recently taken on the role of 2nd XV manager. I have wanted to help out with the senior sides for a long while, now that I am a bit too long in the tooth to play any more, and I am looking forward to taking this on. It’s different to my previous coaching commitments, in that I wont have to frequently find time to attend coaching qualification courses etc, but it will involve a significant commitment akin to that involved with playing.

I’ve toned down my hobby time to an “as and when” basis…something to do on a rainy day. Certainly nothing like the time involved as it was once before. My rugby commitments, whilst they had lessened considerably, have recently risen again (but not quite to the heights they were previously). Family life however, is as busy as it always was with the addition of increasingly elderly and infirm parents to consider. I know from the experience of recent years, commitments outside of family caused difficulties for a number of reasons. With all the various commitments, “things” were and still are creaking at the seams. Something has to give.

Sadly, I have taken the decision that that something is Pantomime. It is quite simply one draw on my time too far.

Family life continues, with me making best efforts to fully pull my weight. My commitments to the rugby club will involve managing and motivating a fine body of chaps on a Saturday before and during their games as well as associated admin, in addition to my touchline dad and webmaster duties. Life will continue without my presence at Yatton pantomime (although my 9yr old daughter continues to attend), and I truly wish that fine body of people all the best luck in the world with their rehearsals (and ultimately, performances) this season. Perhaps I’ll be back, but after 6 years of performing with them, it’s time to step away for now. For modern family life, prioritisation is a must – we can’t do it all!