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A recent survey revealed that 85% of moms admit to “letting themselves go.” That probably goes a long way toward explaining the fashion statements of some of the ladies I encounter at the local Wal-Mart.

At least they didn’t consciously CHOOSE that particular look. It just HAPPENED.

One day, you wake up and decide, “Hey, I think I’ll just forego the eye shadow and lip liner today.” A couple days later, “You know, who really needs foundation?” The next thing you know—no makeup. After all, you only have 20 minutes in the morning before you have to drop off the kids and head out to work or your volunteer job at the school. And who has time to make use of that gym membership, right? The old hubby doesn’t seem to mind the extra few pounds. The flannel nightgown adequately camouflages it anyway. Any you can’t afford to shop at Nordstrom because Little Billy’s orthodontist wants $4,000 for braces and Little Sally’s teacher says you need to get a tutor to help her with math.

It’s a slippery slope.

That slippery slope is at work in the garden too. With so much going on, who has time to worry about a few weeds? And do the neighbors really care that you didn’t plant annuals in the front border this year? And eee gad, so that tree is dead. Who has $400 to pay someone to take it down right now?

See, I am not unsympathetic. I also have a job. (With a mean boss. Me!) I also face the same slippery slopes as the ladies at Wal-Mart, although I try to fight the twin evil forces of entropy and gravity and have the salon bills to prove it.

I also make regular promises to myself that I will call THINGS I WILL DO. Here are a few of the most recent THINGS I WILL DO and rough estimates of their associated time commitments:

-Generally pick up house and do laundry each day – 1.0 hours (probably MUCH more than that)

-Water outdoor plants and do general outdoor cleanup just to stay on top of things – 1.0 hour

-Cardiovascular exercise to burn fat and not get obese — .5 to 1.0 hours

-Yoga – 1.0 hours (or .5 hours 2x daily)

-Sitting (meditation to the uninitiated) — .5 hour

-Practice piano – .5 hour (at least)

-Study French — .5 hours

-Make a “slow food” dinner – 1.5 – 2 hours (at least)

-Household maintenance – pay bills, talk with repair people, making travel plans — .5Okay, so far that comes to about 8 hours a day. Factor in about 8 hours of sleep and a conservative 8 hours at work. That’s a full 24 hours already. And what have I left out? Oh, just a few things, like doing errands, talking to and caring for your kids, your dogs, your cat and spouse, eating, personal hygiene, having a social life, extra work (and there’s always that), travel for work…You get the idea.

Once, when Ben was quite small, Harry was at sea for the better part of two years and I was working a high-stress job at an ad agency, I came up with the idea of a 10 Minute To Do. The concept is elegant in its simplicity. The 10 Minute To Do was a list of things that I could accomplish in 10 minutes or less. For example, say I had 10 minutes before I head to leave to take Ben to the pediatrician. I could look at this list, strategically located on the refrigerator door, and select one of the many 10 Minute To Dos. Over a period of days, I could actually accomplish quite a lot.

Well, in the interest of continuous improvement, I have developed my New and Revised Garden 10 Minute To Dos. To get you started with yours, here are a few examples:

-Deadhead the flowers in a flowerbed. (You can even do this while talking on the telephone if you have a cordless headset like I do.) -Re-pot a plant -Sweep a sidewalk -Water the outdoor container plants -Water your indoor plants -Pick up sticks blown down by the wind -Clip suckers off of small trees -Inspect bushes for early signs of disease or pests -Take a soil sampleYou get the idea now, yes? Now go in peace and avoid that slippery slope.

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