Journey to a sustainable future

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Ditching the to do list

likes to steal my hats, August 2012
I like having a clean house.  I like it being dusted, swept, wiped down, sanitized (within reason) and clutter-free on a regular, frequent basis.

I also have a toddler.  And yes, I could have a dusted, swept, wiped down, sanitized, clutter-free house on a regular, frequent basis.  But in saying yes to those things, I have to say no to so much more.

And I am tired of saying no.  I am tired of being frustrated with Rachel when she wants to make putting the blocks away into a game.  I am tired of losing my temper when she "helps" me sweep, and succeeds only in spreading the sand over the floor even more.  I am tired of staring guiltily at my chore chart, which mocks with its clean, uncrossed off surface.  Even more, I detest how stressed I am when 4:00 rolls around and the only thing to "show" for my day is that I made the bed, there are beans in the crockpot, and my mixing bowls are strewn all over the house. 

silly game! Aug 2012
I had told Steve a month or so ago that any given day, I could accomplish 1 of 3 things.  Either the house was clean, or I got enough rest and sleep, or Rachel had a great, playful day.  None of those could coincide.  And you know?  That's awful! 

Because what kind of person, woman, or mom am I teaching Rachel to be when I snap at her for unloading the dishwasher that I am loading?  When I feel like a failure because I haven't wiped down the counters in 3 days?  When I delay, distract, and even, shamefully, ignore her when she asks to nurse, or play, or read a book? 

Now, some things just have to happen.  And that's life.  I have to hang the clothes on the clothesline.  She doesn't like waiting while I do that, and shows her displeasure by taking the laundry out of the basket and throwing it on the lawn.  Dishes need to get washed (she likes helping with that).  I make the bed everyday, and water the garden almost everyday, too.  And there are many other things like that.  I am not advocating living like a slob and just saying "oh, well, I have a toddler, you know."

Sometimes I wonder how much further I can lower my expectations for my to do list, without abandoning my principles entirely.  So two nights ago, I took down my chore chart.  It is now hidden in a closet.  I still know what needs to get done that day.  I do have a little pad of paper that I write down things to do, like grocery shopping, make bubbles, respond to email from mom, etc.  But there is no master list.  There is no tangible way for me to judge my success or failure for the day.

stacking blocks on the cat

Which is a very good thing.  Because raising attached children in a gentle, respectful way is all about the intangible, unmeasurable things.  Hugs, kisses, silly games, nursery rhymes, playdates, swimming, chasing the cat, potty training, learning to say "frog"--all of those, and especially the attitude with which I do them--those are the most important things in my life.  
brushiing Benny the Beaver's teeth

I still intend to keep a moderately clean, decluttered house.  But my priority is raising my daughter.  I can always sweep the floor later.  But connecting with her is often a now-or-never proprosition. 

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