In the hurly-burly of everyday life, it seems to have become increasingly difficult to find time. It’s odd, really – there are still 86,400 seconds in a day, but lately they are as hard to catch hold of as children at bedtime. Maybe it’s to do with having three kids and a husband I love dearly but who help make my home a house less orderly on an hourly basis. And then there’s work – writing for money is much more rewarding on many levels than working through the perpetual to-do list of chores.
So I’ve been putting my mind to the things I could cheerfully not do everyday to gain more of those magic moments with my family or my muse. Which task-ditching would be the choice of a rational multi-tasker hell-bent on streamlining and which the idleness of a card-carrying slattern?
I’m already at peace with opening my home to spiders as they eat flies and letting dust settle as it affords children another medium for expressing their creative skills. But what else can go?
Hygiene management – every morning there is tooth brushing, face cleaning, hair washing, hair conditioning, body washing, drying of everything, anointing various bits with unguents and serums, dressing, dressing again because combo doesn’t work, checking for unruly hair – either grey or in the wrong place, throwing makeup at face and dithering about what, if any, jewellery from extensive (but unruly and tarnished) collection, then dressing again as baby improvised for a hanky. As it feels like I’m unequal to the task of remaining groomed, perhaps I should resign and let nature take its course. But then again…
Breakfast and getting ready to leave the house – the lion’s share of this chore is in roaring. “Come and have breakfast.”
“Put the telly off and have breakfast.”
“Eat your breakfast.”
“Don’t do THAT.”
“Remember your homework/PE kit/dinner money.”
“Clean your teeth.”
“Clean your glasses, they look like you ate supper with them.”
“Don’t give that to the baby.”
“Where are your shoes?”
“Where did you leave them?”
“No you can’t take that to school.”
“You’ll miss the bus.”
Would stopping be neglectful or helping to encourage their self-sufficiency?
Cleaning up – what’s the point of picking up toys that are just going to get put on the floor again within minutes? Really, and by the same token, straightening beds and towels that are only going to get scrumpled? Every day I pick up the bathmat and put it over the side of the bath, maybe I could have got the novel finished if I hadn’t bothered.
Laundry – wash clothes, dry clothes, pick solid bits out of washing machine drum, add bits to collection of coins, Lego, rubber bands and DS games, remove Velcro-fastening bibs from other items, sort clothes, iron a scant few of them, put clothes back in bedrooms, clothes worn (and dirtied), dropped in laundry baskets, pick clothes out of baskets avoiding seriously nasty bits and repeat. Options might include making children remove clothes on return to house, or at least at mealtimes, only buying clothes in a sludge colour and out of the stuff football strips are made of – they dry in minutes and never look crumpled, and only eating foods the same colour as our garments.
Catering – they say children will pick a nutritionally balanced diet if offered healthy food on a regular basis. What if I take this one step further and just let them sort themselves out? I’ll order the same stuff everyweek from lazyshop.com and let them get on with it.
Gardening – actually I’m already experimenting here creating a hyper-local ecosystem and wildflower haven. Children are issued with flags on long poles when they enter so we can find them.