Sunday, March 16, 2008

I Want

I just returned from a fabulous in-service for Religious School teachers. We all had a lesson we taught video-taped and had an opportunity to watch it with a peer and analyze it, after we talked about ways to question and non-verbal language and all that other stuff. I am happy to say that I feel very confident about my teaching ability. Even with that confidence, I KNOW there is always room for improvement, so I cannot wait to try to improve the one area that my colleague pointed out (trying to elecit responses from the kindergarten students how they felt after acting out the story of the Tower of Babel). Even if they cannot verbalize their feelings (some could but probably not all) they could at least SHOW me how they felt. It was a good point and I value her input.

I left that in-service and arrived to an empty, quiet house. So rare. The kids are with my DH at my ILs; I'm expected to join them at 3 to watch them dye Easter eggs. It is not necessary to point out the irony of the two different activities I am doing today - I'm already very aware of it. The idea of analyzing what I do and searching for ways to improve it is not new for me. I feel like I'm always looking for that next "great idea", the one that's going to make everything run more smoothly at home, the one that will make the house clean itself, make the meals prep and cook themselves, clean, dry, and put away all dirty clothes, the one that will balance the checkbook, pay the bills, redo my business website, come up with new marketing ideas, all while structuring the time the kids are home to allow appropriate amounts of "down time", exercise, activities to build fine motor skills and develop reading and math skills . . . the list goes on and on.

I KNOW there is no ONE magic solution/strategy that is going to make all that happen on its own. But I also know I need to focus on my vision, on what I want to see, in order to acheive it. The last time I posted I expressed how I needed to sit down with my DH and revisit our list of responsiblities to take some of the burden off of me. Just to clarify for all of you who were so supportive of me, the original list that I came up with has me being in charge of the laundry. I was also in charge of most everything else involved with the cleaning and running of the house, but I did pick some things for DH to do that would help out a lot, like unloading the dishwasher in the morning, taking out the trash, filling up the kids special cups with milk before he left in the morning. He and I together had come up with that original list a few months ago. I take full credit for any inequalities on the list, but set out this week to fix them.

I was quite impressed with how our discussion went. I worked to keep it very focused on the task at hand and possible solutions and not to go back and talk about how you didn't do this or this. I proposed with the laundry, for example, that the two solutions that I saw were for me to focus on no more than ONE load a day from start to finish OR for DH to simply take care of his own laundry, thus ensuring he would have enough clean clothes each day. We agreed on the first idea. I also brought up the idea of wearing his pants more than one time each, but he said they usually got dirty, mainly because he ends up spilling coffee on them during the ride to school. I wrote down the idea that we need to invest in multiple travel mugs (since it's so easy to lose them and/or leave them behind) to hopefully cut down on the amount that is spilled.

With the basic cleaning of the house (vacuuming, mopping, bathroom, dusting) we brainstormed some on how to make this work since just stating that I would be in charge of it was NOT enough. We came up with a plan to involve the kids: each day, each kid and I would be in charge of ONE of those four jobs in one room. We would do the job for about five minutes, cleaning as much as we could in that amount of time, so as not to overwhelm anyone, me included. And the next day we would get a new job. I LOVE this idea - I'm starting it tomorrow so we'll see how it works. DH was concerned with the LR rug, that the kids vacuuming this most days wouldn't allow it to fully get clean (they do snack in the LR and color, so there is a lot of stuff on the rug by the end of the day), so I suggested and he agreed that he would be in charge of vacuuming it one final time at the end of the day. Problem solved (I hope).

I'm really excited about the redistribution of household responsiblities, and I tried typing it out to clearly show the equality of them. It's now posted in the kitchen, front and center.

When I walked into the quiet house today, my main question was what do I want? What do I want to see as I look around the house? I think the main thing that would ultimately make me happy was to have a place for everything and have everything IN its place. Obviously I'm not the first person who has said that, but there is such validity to the statement. I would have such a sense of peace if I looked around the room I'm in right now and did not see piles of "stuff" on the floor, the table, the bookcase.

So then the next question is how am I going to acheive it? That clearly will take more thought. I LOVE the idea of doing a "Clean Sweep" (boy do I miss not having The Learning Channel anymore) but am not sure I could ever have enough uninterupted time to achieve it. This week is spring break and both DH and I have off, as do the kids. Maybe I can work out a plan to focus on some key places around the house. I'll have to think about that and report back. I know how important it is to NOT get the all or nothing mentality that I often get as a perfectionist. I know that even if I can work on one drawer, one pile, it's better than nothing. It just feels that when I do that another pile or hot spot forms almost before I finish with the first one, which is why I think just doing a clean sweep, room by room, and only bringing back in the things that HAVE a home and are used, that might be my answer. Hmmmm...

Any tips? I'd love to hear them!


Domestic Goddess said...

Why don't you have TLC? I have it on Fios...didn't you get FIos? If so, Mine is number 119 or something like it.

RuthWells said...

Good for you for taking the first steps toward balance. I love the 5 minutes of cleaning per day -- in our house, it's a "10 minute blitz" and I have the kids compete to see how much they can get done in 10 minutes (sometimes there's a small reward at the end). This works much better for us than an extended weekend cleanup, because motivation flags and it takes them 45 minutes to finish one room.

One of the keys to saving your sanity is to be realistic about your expectations....... of everyone in your family, but mostly of yourself. Accept with grace that you cannot have a Martha Stewart home with three young kids, and choose what is non-negotiable -- such as clean laundry -- and figure out how to get that done without it all falling to one person. As the kids get older, you'll be able to raise your standards, bit by bit.


Lucy T said...

I'm cracking up here. Abigial and DH were watching a movie on TV tonight as I prepared dinner. In in, they acted out the story of the Tower of Babel! No kidding. She had much to say, specifically she wanted to know why God wanted the people to disperse even if they didn't want to and that English was probably the language they were all speaking beforehand. Should I send her to your next class? LOL!
Happy Birthday Julia. It seems like yesterday you were born.