A Time to Dance

A time to dance….

According to some wise soul who wrote a song we had to sing regularly in junior school assemblies, there is a time for everything.  There is a time to laugh and a time to cry; a time to dance and a time to sit; a time to eat cake and a time to regret eating the cake and try to do something about it.

What I would like to know is where the songwriter gets their time from, because I’m clearly getting short-changed.

At high school (an all girls’ selective grammar) we were drilled every day – we were the makers of the future.  We weren’t just women, we were WOMEN.  We could have it all, should have it all and, if we worked hard, would have it all.  We would have the careers, the families, the cultured social lives, the lot!  What they didn’t tell us is that we wouldn’t necessarily be happy because we wouldn’t necessarily have it in high quality.

At 28 I have a BA Hons Degree, have been 2iC of English at a secondary school, have several years of good exam results under my belt and have a wonderful husband.  What I don’t have is my own home, the benefit of cultural experiences, or a family.  Oh, I do have a high BMI and a low self-esteem.  Talking with girlfriends who also attended high-flying schools, it is clear that I am not alone.

The quarter-life crisis was something I first encountered while cleaning out my guinea-pigs at the age of thirteen.  It was the headline on a newspaper which I was using to line their hutch.  “Quarter-life crisis?” I scoffed, “How stupid is that?”

How stupid was I?

The quarter-life crisis was said to be affecting people from the age of 24-30.  The problem was that they were educated, starting good careers, but had nothing to “show” for all their education. Not physically anyway.  At their age, their parents had had mortgages agreed and were well on the way to producing the required 2.4 children.  At their age, they had the status symbols of success and contentment.  Now, at 28, I clutch five very important pieces of paper:

  • my degree certificate
  • my teaching certificate
  • my marriage certificate
  • a statement of student debt
  • a statement of personal debt

As an English graduate and teacher, I take great comfort in pieces of paper, both typed and blank.  However, the fact that the sum total of my life is five sheets of paper is somewhat depressing.  This is only heightened by the awareness that people who didn’t go for the high-flying, you-can-have-it-all route, have got their own flats, spouses, families and great social lives, as well as jobs in which they are content.  Those like me have jobs which include hellish overtime and challenges which never fully go away.  Five of us are all considering career changes because we want time.

Time to have a family

Time to buy a house

Time to travel

Time for ourselves

and, perhaps most importantly sometimes,

time to sleep.

(Aren’t you relieved that I’ve returned to topic?)

This brings me back to the question of the day:  where do I find the time to exercise?

I don’t always get home in time to exercise before dinner, or even while dinner is cooking.  After dinner, it’s often 9pm and, with a 5.30am start, the thought of adding an hour of exercise into my before-bed routine just doesn’t bear thinking about.

During the Easter holidays and on a rare couple of weekends off, I was enjoying daily exercise consisting of a walk around the local park and 40m hard pedalling on the exercise bike.  I felt great, especially as it was combined with a healthier diet (because I had TIME to make my salads) and the effects of having completely cut out caffeinated coffee from my life.

Three weeks later and I’m drinking coffee like it’s going out of fashion, suffering from what I once heard an American girl scornfully refer to as “carb-face”, working 18 hour days, and my mood is blacker than night.  My husband looks like Fred Flinstone, trying to creep past me on his tiptoes and avoid disturbing the raging beast I have become.

Where has the time gone?

It didn’t use to be so much of a problem.  It seems now that I’ve found something I really want to do, to take time for me, I’m extremely resentful of everything else that takes up my time.  You only have to look at how infrequently I blog now to get a sense of how much time I’m missing.  For anyone who thinks that this is quite a long blog, I’d like to take this opportunity to explain that I wrote over half of it two weeks ago, during a quiet moment between parents’ appointments at parents’ evening.  It’s now 10pm on a Saturday night and I’m ploughing resolutely through the exercise books I started on at 4pm.  At 4pm I’d been determined to get them done in time to go for a stroll around the park before dark.  I’ve not left the house.

My mind turns back to previous blogs I’ve read when contemplating the whole “getting fit thing” and remember sparkly blondes perkily recommending the pre-dawn hours as being a wonderful time to get on the treadmill and work up a beat to some fabulous running tracks.  I already get up at 5.30 and that’s a struggle enough.  Another 30m may just do me in.  I love my sleep.

Other bloggers champion the use of a lunch-break to get out and pound the pavements, enjoying the fresh air and taking the opportunity to get ready for the afternoon.  My lunch-breaks are taken up with interventions, detentions, and teenage girls sobbing about the latest “one true love” breaking their heart.  I’m not complaining – I love my job, and the very fact that the children choose me to come and see for help with their homework, or for a safe place to find a baby-wipe to de-panda themselves after the latest “my-world-is-ending-teen-drama” is an incredible compliment.  It’s just that it doesn’t leave much time for exercise.

Watching UK Ninja Warrior last week sparked an idea: people were training at work, at every opportunity; you don’t need loads of time to do a few squats or press-ups.  The only place safe for me from prying eyes was the disabled loo on my corridor and, despite washing my hands ten times afterwards, I couldn’t quite shake the conviction that my hands were now home to an extra million varieties of bacteria and ickyness.

I’ve even tried exercising while doing housework: cycling while ironing, doing step-ups while taking the laundry up to the bathroom to air, squatting while brushing my teeth.

Two things are for certain:

1) It’s not going to be easy

2) Bernard’s watch, I am reliably informed, is not real.

I’m still holding out for Hermione’s time-turner…


3 thoughts on “A Time to Dance

  1. I can’t offer any magic wand to solve this. It’s not easy. What has helped me over the years is to remind myself that life exists in seasons and there are seasons where being fit is possible. It’s not possible all the time to make it a primary focus. Likewise blogging. Likewise homebaking, etc etc.

    Also, I am convinced more and more that mental fitness is the first prioirity. Mens sana in corpore sano. Note the mens sana comes first. Don’t allow achieving the corpore sano to stress you out and threaten the corpore sano.

    Also, you are worth FAR MORE than five bits of paper. Relationships, friends, family, is where it’s at. Take care. x


    1. Thank you for the advice, Nelly – gratefully received. I should probably note that I do not view myself as being in the throes of a quarter-life crisis, rather that I am able to understand where the idea comes from and why some people might feel this way. Hope I didn’t alarm you! The main concern for me is the lack of time and I think you’re absolutely right about mens sana. In addition it’s important to spend time cultivating the relationships and spending time with friends and family.
      Congratulations on your triathalon success! 🙂 x


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