In the run up to our big change, I talked of how it wouldn’t be like flipping a switch, but a process that would take time. Time, I expected [okay, thought if I admitted it would take time it actually wouldn’t take any time at all]. I even expected it to be bumpy as we learned how to behave in completely different ways. But what I wasn’t prepared for at all was that all my planning and organizing would need to be flipped on its head.
Luckily, something clicked, like, yesterday. Maybe it was just the exhaustion. But as I nursed my little one in the quiet that only happens when my 3 year old is at preschool, I decided to join him for his morning nap instead of my usual training regime for the household chore olympics. I woke up feeling a little anxious about the work I hadn’t done, but it was worth it. And it made me think. Flip.
I’d put a lot of time and thought into a schedule for keeping on top of the house, the meals, and the laundry, convinced it would help me get things done faster and free up time that would obviously be spent with my children, holding them, playing with them, teaching them. But yesterday it hit me that I’d been scheduling my time all wrong, and it was slipping away in more ways than one. So I decided that today, instead of following my chore schedule and spending all my ‘free’ time with the children, I’d do it the other way around: I ‘planned’ my whole day around activities with them, and found time where I could to squeeze in chores. It’s not perfect. It’s even more exhausting than cleaning the highchair 15 times a day and doing one never-ending load of laundry. And it’s hard to let go of all that needs doing, even a little bit. But not as hard as I’d feared. And I still managed a comfortable balance. The house is reasonably tidy-ish, the laundry hasn’t started its own blog, and dinner was on the table at 6 pm, unburned.
I learned that if I’m creative, and make my children the center of nearly everything I do, I can give them what they need, enjoy quality time with them, and still get things done. Today I gathered up cardboard boxes, tape, and construction paper and sat on the floor with my 3 year old while his little brother napped. Later in the day, we played in the park. And when the dishes and laundry finally had to get done, I set the oven timer for 30 minutes and promised to stop chores and play again when the buzzer went. I finished 2 minutes early and kept my promise. And when it was time to tidy up, we all did it together, and it was fun. The 3 year old even sorted the clean silverware into the drawer. The forks hanging out in the spoon slot appealed even to my type-A brain. Flip!