My Typical Day at Our House post prompted this reader e-mail,
“You sure stay busy during the day. How do you do all that, woman?! Don’t you ever get tired? LOL!”
The answer is yes. Yes I do.
While it might seem like I’m working a lot, I actually accomplish very little, as you might expect with a preschooler and an infant at home. As you saw, my office work, which used to take an hour or so before, now takes two days. I try to squeeze in little bits of work whenever my children are sleeping, or otherwise occupied, but really, most of my time is spent caring for them. They are the reason I stay home, so while basic housework must be completed, I try my best to not make it a priority over my children, though I sometimes fail at this 🙁 I do take the time to talk with them, read to them, and play with them.
I want to stress though, and long-time readers have heard me say this before, that I don’t spend all day entertaining my kids. It isn’t practical for me to do that, and I don’t feel guilty about it. Children need love and attention, but clean clothes, nutritious meals, and an orderly environment are also important for their health and well-being, and so I try to find a balance. Also, I don’t believe that it benefits my kids if I constantly amuse them. It’s important for them to learn self-sufficiency, and being required to entertain themselves builds their creativity and imagination. I know many adults who have a constant need for entertainment, and they seem to fill it with a steady diet of shopping, television, computers, cell phones, and video games. They don’t seem able to find joy in the simple things, but my children do. They spent 20 minutes yesterday watching a caterpillar meander across the driveway, and they played in the not-yet-planted vegetable garden with their sand pails and shovels for hours on Saturday. They do not have cell phones, iPods, or a TV in their bedroom, and we do not own a single video game, yet they rarely come to me with the “I’m bored” complaint. They’ve learned from past experience that if they complain of boredom, I will put them to work.
Which brings me to the point of this post – work.
In Bee’s class, they’re discussing famous inventors. After learning about all the different things invented by children, Bee has developed a strong interest in inventing something herself. On Sunday she was hard at work at the kitchen table with paper and pencil, and I asked her what she was drawing. She said that when you’re inventing something, it’s very important to make a labeled diagram. I peeked over her shoulder to see that she’s planning to invent a “clean-up robot” to do all of her chores.
I think it’s natural for us as human beings to try to make our work easier, or even to avoid work altogether. I have many days when I’m like Michael on “The Office.” He tends to procrastinate a bit when he has to do actual work, which is why it takes all day for him to sign a few papers, and even then he doesn’t finish. I find that when I’m tired or bored I have a serious lack of motivation, and the first year that I stayed home, our house usually showed it. I often told myself (and still do, sometimes), that it was OK for me to just watch this program, or to sit in front of the computer for awhile, because I deserve to have fun too, right? And of course I do, but there is a time for that, and a time for work. When I changed my attitude about staying home, and started seeing it as my job, I realized that if I was my boss, I would sack my lazy behind!
So, the point I’m making here is, if you consider staying home and caring for your house and family to be your job, you will accomplish more and feel much better about yourself if you work during work time. During the hours that my husband is working, I feel that it’s only fair that I should be too. My husband works hard all day and almost never takes breaks, and it wouldn’t be right for me to sit around and talk on the phone, or watch TV, or play around on the internet, and then expect, at the end of the day, for him to help me with everything that I failed to do.
I schedule my work during the week (see The Weekly Work Schedule) because I know how easily I’m distracted. I’m a person who needs structure. I have a (very flexible) time schedule for my day, and I try to follow it, but life with young children is often unpredictable, and sometimes my schedule goes right out the window. On those days, I do my best to simply complete my daily tasks, which are as follows:
□ Defrost food for supper/start in crockpot
□ Straighten up
□ Unload/Reload dishwasher (after meals)
□ Wipe down sink, stove, counters (after meals)
□ Sort/Recycle mail
□ Food/water for Pumpkin (my husband often does this)
□ Sweep/vacuum kitchen floor
□ At least one load of laundry (wash/dry/fold/put away)
□ Wipe down bathroom sinks and counters
□ Refill cold drinking water
□ Take out compost
If I accomplish these basic things, life at our house continues to run smoothly, even during times when I simply cannot manage to get anything cleaned, and clutter builds up on all horizontal surfaces. We still have nutritious meals, and clean clothes, and our environment remains reasonably sanitary. Sometimes, that’s all you can hope for.
And now, I will say one last thing that might make some of you roll your eyes, and snort in disbelief. I enjoy working. I do! Not because I think it’s great fun to scrub a toilet that a toddler has peed all over, or wipe up sticky jelly blobs from the floor so my socks will no longer stick when I walk through the kitchen. No, that’s not why.
I enjoy working because when I lay around and don’t do anything all day, I feel like a fat, lazy, useless slob. I often put off tasks that I’m dreading because they bore me, or I think they’ll take up too much time. But, when I just suck it up and DO them, I usually find that they don’t take as long as I thought, and completing them makes me feel so much better! Feeling good about myself is the best motivation.[print-me/]