The Tasks That Smooth My Days

“Tis the season of activities! Lessons, co-op, soccer for two, dance for four, church, Sunday School…. I’m tired just typing the list! The busyness of the schedule feels chaotic and the days spin by on their own until I don’t know which end is up. Somehow I need to bring sanity to it all.

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Sanity has to start with me. When the children are whirling through the house unsettledly, I can’t calm things effectively unless I am calm and settled myself. So I make a point of taking the 5-10 minutes I need to settle my own spirit. I let everyone stay and extra fifteen minutes in their quiet time spaces so I can have an afternoon cup of tea and I try hard to place things around the house to remind me to parent calmly and gently.

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Some times of day are harder. Lunch time, the end of afternoon playtime, when we transition from outdoors to in and play to work, the evening when tired, hungry toddlers and preschoolers can no longer cope…these times act as triggers for yelling, fussing, tantruming, and impatience for Mom and children alike. Here I need to be intentional and proactive.

I write the afternoon’s jobs on the board before I call the children in. I try to make sure they’ve at least eaten an apple sometime between lunch and afternoon jobs. I plan to keep the grumpiest children close by and let service dispel the self-centered disappointment over the end of playtime.

 

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I work ahead too, trying to do some chunk of my housework or dinner prep at times when the children are happily occupied. Often this means that dinner prep is done in spurts, a bit while I’m making lunch (meat taken out to thaw or something put in the crockpot), another little bit while I’m making my afternoon cup of tea (it’s amazing how much I can do in the seven minutes it takes the kettle to boil!).

I’ve let go of the concept of working at a large task until it’s done. For one thing that method doesn’t work well with my highly distractible brain, and for another I rarely get more than twenty minutes to work at something. Instead I keep a running list of projects and pick a couple to work on each day.  Ten-twenty minutes of concentrated work can actually accomplish quite a lot and I don’t feel as if my task is never ending.

I keep a running “to-do” list and remind myself that it is a RUNNING list. I expect to cross off a few things and add a few things and that’s OK. Some weeks I cross off a great number of small tasks and some weeks….I don’t, but having the list frees me from having to remember all that needs to be done.

I try hard to notice the moments of calm, even when they only last for sixty seconds and to point them out to the children. If we don’t recognize calmness and peace, then we don’t know what we are working towards and I find it all too easy for the chaos moments to run right over the peaceful ones, obliterating them from our memories.

These practical steps and intentional attitude adjustments keep us going, and little by little we reclaim the crazy moments as moments of living fully.

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