Ever since I was little, I've enjoyed being active. Running, jumping, dancing, walking, climbing, anything and everything. I try and fit in a 45 minute exercise six days a week. At the same time, it is in ways a chore, some task I do daily, even when my schedule is extremely full. As I was driving home from dropping the three oldest off at school recently, I was thinking about all I needed to accomplish that day, organizing in my head how to most efficiently use my time so that I could get everything done. I hadn't gotten up early to exercise that morning so that needed to be done first, then I could tackle everything else. I thought to myself, "I prioritize and organize my schedule pretty regularly. My monthly calendar is always full and marked up. Time goes by so fast. Life is so busy. I don't think I really have any free time." That last thought was not really accurate. Technically, all of my time is free. We're all given the same amount of time in a day and in a week and in a year and how we choose to spend it is completely up to us.
Now that being said, I am married and have five children that range in age from 1-9 and so a lot of my time, the majority in fact, is spent with my children, serving them and our family which includes but is not limited to: laundry, cooking, putting together meals and snacks, driving children to and from school and extracurricular activities, shopping for our needs, sweeping, mopping, picking up toys, never-ending dishes, organizing, helping with piano and homework, reading to them, teaching them spiritual and temporal things, including the importance of cleaning, doing chores, and being responsible. Yes, I do some of these things for me too, but a lot of the reason I choose to spend so much time doing these things and serving them is because I am hoping to raise responsible, compassionate, well-rounded adults and I know that now, while they are in their young, formative years, is the best time. I want them to be contributors for good in their communities. I also think that often times, when children turn into adults they come back to the things they've been taught, hold similar values and priorities and I figure this way we'll have a lot in common and be good friends :). And so I spend most of my free time serving them, usually from 7am until 9pm every day. And I love it. I really do. And that's not saying that it's all sunshine and roses 24/7, we all experience challenges and trials. But being a parent is the most satisfying and fulfilling thing I have ever done and could ever do. Creating and then raising children is a great responsibility and I try to do my best.
Over the years I've discovered that I need time to myself. Quiet, peaceful time, every day. In order to get that kind of time, where I can experience having uninterrupted thoughts, I must wake up early. Once the kids go to bed for the night, that time is for me and Scott to visit and be with one another which is a special time for us both. We typically go to sleep around 930 or 10pm and wake up at 530am. Waking up at that time gives me an hour and a half in the morning to do something totally for me. Elisabeth, my nine year old, and Charles, my eight year old, get up at 630, thirty minutes before the others, but that's fine because they take care of themselves and know not to interrupt me. Can you guess what I choose to do with that very sacred amount of 'free time' I have each morning? Two things. I read my scriptures for thirty minutes, sometimes write in my journal as well, and then I exercise.
Exercising, is obviously important to me if I make it a top priority. Taking care of my physical and spiritual self allow me to do so much more, to be so much more. Exercising makes me feel good. Physically and mentally. I have some of my greatest thoughts while I'm exercising. I can think things through clearly. If Scott and I stay up late and I don't wake up until 630, then I still read but exercise is put off until after I drop the three oldest off at school, which isn't ideal because I still have two kids home with me and I'm continually being interrupted and it's not nearly as peaceful as it would have been had I woken up early. Those days usually aren't my best mom days because I didn't take the time to get my physical/spiritual/emotional fill that morning. I'm happier when I exercise, probably partially due to an increased amount of endorphins but also because of the peace I feel and the sense of well being or contentedness that I get from doing something healthy for my body which was entrusted to me by a loving Heavenly Father. Exercising also keeps me in good physical condition so that I can keep up with the high energy levels of my kids... or at least nearly keep up with them :). They have a lot of energy. Because I exercise regularly, it's not hard for me to run after a small child who has gotten away, or to crawl or sit on the floor for an extended period of time with my toddlers, which I love. And so even though I have a very full and busy schedule, I get up early, and I make time to exercise. It is a very deliberate choice which makes me a happier and healthier individual.