No, it is not the complete mapping of the human genome, nor the formula for cold fusion. I'm not talking zero emissions cars or solving the hole in the ozone either.
I'm talking about mom sanity. For anyone who is a mom, you know that this is a secret worth knowing.
It is very simple. It's called setting your alarm for an uncomfortably early hour.
I have solved many of my time issues for this summer by just getting up around 4 A.M. Lucky for me, I think summer mornings beat the pants off of just about everything (although as we turn the corner into August the sun is sleeping in more than I am) so getting up early is its own motivation.
The early rising was born from a need to be creative about exercise time with Sandi's five day a week, 12 hour days at the hospital. In order to not have to pay for childcare so I can exercise (I already have to so I can work), if I get up early I can usually run as little as 2.5 and as much as 4 miles between when it is early enough to see and Sandi's 5:20-5:30 departure time. Often the sun doesn't even rise until I am sipping tea and scrambling for a few minutes to write before the early birds wake up anywhere from 5:30-6:30.
Once a week I go to the gym, dragging a more than reluctant Ella to the gym daycare, so I can take a class, usually Body Pump, so I can build in some muscle training.
It is a total hodgepodge of an exercise schedule, but actually better than I had expected going into the summer.
The best part, and here is why it is a secret to life, is that I am SO much happier. When I wake up early I am totally on top of my day, especially if I've also had time to write. Summer is an incredibly fun and busy time of year and with all the recreation and traveling there is so much packing, organizing, and cleaning to do when we aren't having fun. And, because I care that my kids eat well in the face of the constant summertime offerings of ice cream and other indulgences, I also carve out time to make zucchini bread, healthy muffins and other homemade snacks for our portable lifestyle. If I didn't get up early, I would simply never have any time for myself.
On the weekends I typically get in one long bike ride, usually with Emilie, because I find that I need one day of thorough physical exhaustion each week to keep my tenuous mental equilibrium. I set out cereal for the kids and they get their coveted Saturday morning TV time while Sandi gets her coveted Saturday morning sleep time. I am usually home by 7:30 or 8 and still have the day to go the beach or to camp and my day is full (mostly) with contentment. Saturdays are Sandi's study day which puts me on day 6 alone with the kids and I seriously need a little contentment and some of my edge taken off at this stage of the week.
This weekend because I was on Beals Island Friday night, I was able to go out for an 8 mile run Saturday and do my long bike ride Sunday as well. I felt like I had hit the jackpot.
Emilie and I rode 50 miles in the wet through 9 towns on Sunday morning. I had never ridden to Bucksport and was psyched to ride over this gorgeous new bridge (see its sorry looking former self off to the right?). Often we ride lots of local side roads in big or little loops but this was a true destination ride (other than the Trek) on major roads and I want to do more of it. Sunday morning is officially my favorite time to bike. Hardly anyone is out on Saturday morning at 5 but the streets are deserted on Sundays.
By some miracle, the flat tire I've been dreading getting occurred mere steps away from Emilie's driveway at the end of our ride. There was nail squarely embedded in my tire. Emilie slapped my bike on her car and drove me the 2 miles home, as our sweaty, wet, stinky bodies graced her upholstery and her dog Jackson, enthusiastically stood with his paws between us on the console trying to decide whose face to lick first.
Last summer Emilie and I said, "Hey, let's bike together! Like maybe once a week!" and we never did, not once. It was too hard to find the time.
So now we both just get up early and here we are, week after week. I've decided you can't "find" the time. I must MAKE the time.
It is a beautiful thing to have a friend who takes the same kind of pride and fulfillment out of being filthy and grimy and pleasantly exhausted. Out on the road you can cover all manner of topic and everything is open for discussion. What's a little water falling from the sky when you have your friend peddling next to you?
There's lots of proud of regarding how I am handling myself as a person and as a mom this summer. Being well-rested just isn't one of them and, with the help of copious amounts of iced coffee, I'm okay with that.