You know those people you once spent hours on the phone with? The ones you went out to DQ and the park with when your kids were little and now you don’t even recognize one another’s kids? I ran into one of those this week. And once again, the question was posed to me: Do you ever answer your phone? What would be the best time for me to call you?
I think my response was something like… Uh…. When I’m 83?
Kidding, I didn’t really say that.
But really. What is the best time?
Let’s start with the worst times:
Between nine pm and four am, I’m (hopefully) sleeping. If I’m not sleeping, I’m doing something even more critical, which you definitely should not interrupt.
Between the hours of four and six am, I’m probably studying, in the shower, or my mouth is full.
Between the hours of six am and eight am, I’m extremely engaged in getting a minimum of eight children dressed, fed, organized and out the door. Not to mention welcoming between four and eight others in the door. And fed and calm.
Between the hours of eight and noon, I probably cannot hear the phone ring, let alone what you have to say were I to answer it. If I can hear it ring, it’s because I have four to eight toddlers on my legs and feet and I’m reading them stories. Do you really want to interrupt that? Because the noise level is going to go through the roof if you do.
At noon I turn off my ringer. For the next hour I’m changing diapers, serving lunch, intercepting airborne food particles and dishes, and arranging nap mats. And saying, “Shhhhhhh. It’s quiet time, remember? No talking please.”
The key part of that is “No Talking.”
From one to three, dead silence reigns. I’d go outside and call you back, but I’ve got two kids that like to wake up every twenty minutes or so and look around. If I’m sitting in my chair studying, and put my finger to my lips, they lay back down and go to sleep. If I’m nowhere in sight, they begin a methodical game of leapfrog that involves everyone else that is not awake.
So no. I can’t call you during nap time.
Parents start arriving at about 3:10 and continue intermittently until 4:30. I’d have to put you on hold a dozen times to greet them, help gather their kids and answer their questions.
My own kids come in the door at about 4:20. I think it sends a really bad message to children when their mothers interrupt them to answer the phone. I’m not really sure who is on the phone, but I’m sure it’s more important than what you have to tell me, and so I’m not going to answer the phone between 4:20 and 5:00, either. That gives them each, what? Five minutes, max, to talk to me?
I have seven people to focus on between the hours of 5 and 8:30. If you allow for a half hour of scripture reading and prayer in there, that leaves three hours. Minus 70 minutes of running/trying to catch my breath from running. Assuming I don’t have to ever go to the bathroom, eat, or drive children to soccer, mutual, or Driver’s Ed during those hours, that leaves me one hour and fifty minutes. Remember those seven people that I allowed five minutes for when they came in the door?
I’m going to spend the rest of eternity with at least one of them, so I try to carve out a good 45 minutes to an hour during which we try to remember one another’s name.
That leaves me with an hour, if I’m lucky, for my kids.
Less than ten minutes each, of personal conversation time. Maybe. Chances are, no, I’m not going to answer your phone call.
Saturdays? I’m in class from 8 to four. The rest of the day I”m probably driving around trying to stock my pantry, etc. You might catch me, by pure luck when I’m in a store or a parking lot, and not on the road.
No, I don’t use my phone while driving.
Sundays? Total family time. See the clause above about giving the phone priority over children’s conversations.
It’s not that I don’t value the good old days. Really. They were great. I’m just in a different stage of life right now. And I like it: it works for me. My kids are probably more important than anything you have to say, right now. Unless you have the down low on a major weather system or impending episode of chemical warfare that will prompt me to evacuate said family pronto.
Otherwise, call me again in ten years when our kids are all off at college.
If I they don’t ring on the other line, I might have time to chat.