Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Did You Do Anything Today?

As a matter of fact I did! I washed, dried, and folded 3 loads of laundry. I plan to put them away before bed - we'll see how that goes. I changed the sheets on the bed. Well actually I stripped the sheets and washed them and will return them to the bed, so I guess technically I didn't 'change' them. But then 'technically' I did 4 loads of laundry. I made lasagna. For someone else. Then I made dinner for our family. I cleaned the mudroom. I did two loads of dishes (this was a necessity after making lasagna). I played with my Tater. A lot. He discovered the stairs today. So I went up and down. A lot. I went to the bank, and to Target (love it!) and to Costco (aka the store that always costs me $200). And of course, I spent some time on Facebook.

I feel pretty damn good about what I accomplished today without a nanny or babysitter. I know plenty of people with babies that 'never get anything done'. And that brings us to today's topic...Did you do anything today?

What a silly question to ask someone with children. I feel it is exponentially sillier the younger the child or the more children someone has. I mean seriously. People who ask that either have ZERO clue what staying at home for an entire day with a child entails, or they are implying that while being home with said child one should also accomplish Martha Stewart style housekeeping. Pssh. Martha Stewart was NEVER this far behind.

Being a parent, at least at this stage, is all about chasing. If you're not chasing a toddler up and down stairs, you are chasing yourself, or your idea of acceptable hygiene, or your housework/dishes/laundry, or your normal sleep patterns, or your sanity. Or all of the above. Just having the baby means a 6 week hiatus from your normal life. Then after those 6 weeks the sleep deprivation hits you like a train. And as you start to climb out of your I-have-a-newborn hole and things start to get easier you look around and wonder how you're ever going to get the toilets clean again, or if your trash service is going to charge you extra to haul away the mess. And just when you think you might get back on schedule the baby starts motoring. Now comes the baby proofing. Walking into a different room becomes a two-hand job. Opening cabinets takes an engineering degree and serious concentration, and you can no longer go to the bathroom (if you ever got that far after the first 6 weeks) without careful planning because the toilet paper is stored in the childproof cabinet on the other side of the room! There is ALWAYS a baby underfoot. Unless of course the baby is in the other room in which case the baby is no doubt playing with the ONE ITEM that isn't actually child proof. When was the last time someone asked my husband to write a new piece of software at work while finishing a load of laundry and making lunch all while keeping tabs on his coworker who has a tendency to eat rubber bands? It doesn't happen in "the real world". But it definitely happens at home. A lot.

So today, while perusing the Book of Faces a friend of mine messaged me. She asked how I get 'so much done'. I almost laughed. But then I realized she was asking for advice. I had to stop and think. I guess it started a few years ago before I quit working and before I had a baby. It started with this book. I got into a routine. And my house was Martha Stewart worthy. Well on most days.

Then I got pregnant. Then we moved. Then I had a baby. And now hear we are. Tater is eating dust bunnies from under the kitchen table and I am unsure what's in the Tupperware at the back of the fridge. I've been out of it for months. Because in addition to having a baby I also had PPD. But I feel like the clouds have lifted. Actually I should say honestly that God has been merciful to me and has delivered me from my depression. But I am getting back to my old self. And with that, back to my routine of keeping a clean and organized home. And so, when my friend asked how I get 'so much' done I told her.
  1. I make a to-do list. I keep as many jobs on the list short and sweet. Less than 10 minutes start to finish. **Put a load of laundry in the wash. Unload the dishwasher. Clean the toilet. Then, I start checking them off. If Tater is playing in the living room I do the dishes. If I need to be upstairs I take him (and something else...see below) upstairs with me.  
  2. I don't leave a room empty handed. **Boo does not function this way. He starts cleaning in one corner of the room and doesn't leave until he's finished. I can't do that. Today I was cleaning in the bedroom and needed to put a shoebox away. The problem: the shoes for said box were sitting on the kitchen table. So I start to head down to the kitchen. But before I go I gather up the empty water bottles from our nightstands and the baby bottle that Tater deposited on the floor earlier this morning. No sense making a trip down empty handed.
  3. I don't stress if the to-do list is longer at night than it was in the morning. **Sometimes it's just not possible to do what I intended. Sometimes Tater just wants me to play with him. Sometimes Mom invites me to lunch in the park and I just can't refuse. Sometimes my bed calls my name at 10am when Tater is napping and sometimes I answer. 
There is no magic formula for how to clean house and cook dinner while raising a child. Every house, dinner, and child is different. The combinations are endless. The important thing to remember is that no matter what ELSE you did during the day you mothered a child. You fed, cuddled, chased, tickled, diapered, and loved a baby. Maybe not an infant, but still your baby. So tomorrow when I toss my to-do list into the trash to swing at the park for an extra 15 minutes I won't feel like I got nothing done. And you shouldn't either.


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