Friday, September 13, 2013

If It Can Be Done Via Email, Email It Shall Be!

M. Gustafson Gervasi, 2013 -- Chalking at the Park

Frugality is the efficient use of both money as well as time.  This is a concept I first embraced when reading the book Your Money or Your Life back in the late 1990s.  And it bubbled up into my mind last night. Being the typical dual-income family with young children, demands on our evening were conflicting.

First, there was a parent meeting at our children's school, an orientation essentially.  Second, there was a board meeting of a professional organization that my husband vice-chairs.  And third, the less obvious choice of staying home for family time.

In the afternoon my husband and I analyzed the options.  He opted to contribute to his meeting by submitting an email with his comments.  Knowing the agenda for the evening, it was a way to share his thoughts, but not have to drive across town and sit in on a meeting that he could learn about via the minutes.  Instead, we decided that I would attend the children's school event while he tucked them in for the night.  School after all is important, very important to us.  And this was the first "parent night" in our lives.

Just before 7pm I set off for school, and he set off to get the children settled for the night.  Upon returning home just before 9pm I announced that I too should have opted for email.  The event at the school conveyed nothing other than materials I could have received via email, or a chat on the playground when I pick up the children.  While nice, it was not of the magnitude to require me to remove myself from family time.  I've decided that if it can be done via email, then email it shall be!  Life is full of options, but those options are not always the most efficient, or enjoyable.  Underscoring this decision was the wakefulness of my children at 9pm.  They were battling colds and adjusting to life going to school five full days.  They'd wanted Mama, but Mama was off at school being read materials I could have read myself via email.

Frugality is often about money.  But what is money without an enjoyable life.  And when all those opportunities, aka demands, descend upon you, ask yourself, at what cost?  What else could you do with that time?  Will you have to spend money as a result (i.e. hiring a babysitter)?  Are there transportation costs? Will rushing to attend a meeting cause you to eat dinner out, costing more than a home cooked meal?

As I close this post I know that my attendance at school events will be limited to when the children are present (i.e. a festival or play) or it is a direct interaction with a teacher about my children's performance. Beyond that, I want the time with them.  Before I know it they'll be off to college, and I'll have a lot more time to parcel out for interesting events.

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