Tuesday, July 01, 2008

crossing off the to-do list

I am so over this whole internet-not-working thing. Hence, no pictures of the weekend festivities--hopefully those will be forthcoming soon.

In the meantime, how's about that housework? Seriously, I'm going nuts. Could be the four loads of laundry in the last 24 hours, or the smashed crackers all over the kitchen floor, or the "really need to go shopping" state of the 'fridge (post-vacation syndrome).

One of the things we've been doing lately is talking about three good things from our day (inspired by an editing project I've been doing lately on a book by that same title). The three of us who can talk each share three good things from our day. It's a nice way to recap the day's events and find out what really mattered most to each of us.

So lately I've been having trouble thinking of things, because it seems like all I do is housework, which really stresses me out, because I feel like I'm missing out on meaningful interactions with my children because I'm so busy keeping them fed and clean. It's a hard balance. And then I do smart things like knock a bottle of nail polish over (as I blindly reach for my contacts), which then falls out of the cabinet and shatters on the toilet and I spend the next hour mopping up sticky goo and glass (that was a fun wakeup call this morning).

I admit, I am a little perfectionistic when it comes to having a clean house. With that said, my standards are considerably lower post-children. But at the same time, it's still enough to seemingly keep me working all day (and trust me, it needs to be done!) Meal preparation and cleanup alone occupy a good half of the day (and let's not forget all the time spent nursing Juliet!). I feel guilty about the fact that I've written in "read stories to the girls" on my daily to-do list (but on the other hand, it's the only way it will get done). It's also frustrating because I don't feel like I have THAT much to do every day (I have a list for the week with the tasks for each day; Tuesday, for instance, is vacuuming, mop kitchen floor, clean microwave, weed peas and green beans, general picking up)...yet it seems to take the entire day! There's always another load of laundry waiting to be done or a spilled snack to clean up.

And so I always find myself wondering, when I read these awesome parenting blogs or books or whatnot about being creative and fun with your children and fingerpainting and going on hikes and all these things...when do these people find time to clean their houses? Does someone else do it for them?--because let me tell you, when we do fun things like that, I'm doing laundry and cleaning the kitchen into the wee hours of the night. Or do they break my cardinal rule about selfish use of naptime (i.e. absolutely no housework...bill-paying and editing or grading are allowed, but NO HOUSEWORK!) Or do they just have a very high tolerance for messiness, and when their children are following them from room to room asking for another story, do they sit down in the mess and start reading to them?

I go back and forth on this--I want my children to know that they are more important to me than my daily tasks. But on the other hand, I also need to go to the grocery store, pay the bills, fold the laundry, and weed the garden. And I firmly believe that people are calmer and happier when they live in a clean and well-run house. Oh, and I have to find time to exercise in there too. And quiet time for myself to do things I like to do so I don't go crazy and become very boring.

What do you think? How do you handle all of this?

7 comments:

Kayli said...

Okay, this post makes me feel better. Because worrying about housework is something I struggle with ALL THE TIME. Only, I am on the much much much much MUCH messier scale than you. But sometimes I seriously freak out and feel like I'm a failure as a homemaker. But then again, I can go for long stretches with not even thinking about it...just doing other things. But I think it's something many moms struggle with.

Crapos said...

I don't. We flip flop b/w really good days and really bad ones. And we're in the middle of vacations (new roadtrip starts tomorrow) accompanied by sleep-deprivation, fevers, and teething, so this week has been on the not so good side. Oh, and I'm horrible at reading to the kids. Sadie gets bedtime stories at night and nap but Madoc doesn't have the patience so he gets practically nothing. But at least I don't put them in front of the tv too often.

joanna said...

I have no answers. I do know some kids can start helping with housework. I'm usually chasing Alex, picking up right after him (I do that with my husband, too.) I spend a lot of time cleaning my house but it makes me feel better. Weigh your options. Are you ok with a not-so-clean house and spending more quality time w/ kids? Or do you want a cleaner house? Or, maybe like "crapos" said, you can flip flop. Some days are Clean House Days, other days are Messy House Days.

Kayli said...

Oh, I was going to add that it's a double-edged sword, because it's when I'm really trying to get the house cleaned up that I am the very CRANKIEST with my kids. If I just picked everything up and vacuumed, and they come in and leave something/several things on the floor it makes me soooo angry. So, I think...which makes me a better parent--being clean-crazy or more laid-back but messy house. SUCH a hard thing!

A personal problem of mine, if you'll notice. ;)

Kristyn said...

Hi there Rachael. I really enjoy your blog, especially for posts like this one. There was a lady in my old ward whom I just adored. EVERY single time I was at her house it was immaculate. Intimidatingly immaculate. We talked a lot about housekeeping and how she does it all, etc. She one time said that she felt like people always say it's a trade off for keeping a house clean or spending time with your kids. But she felt she could do both. It might take staying up really late at night or whatever, but she always had a clean house. She amazed me. Not only that, but she has 5 kids, an amazingly toned body, and her husband is gone a lot for work. Writing this I'm realizing this sounds like a guilt trip, but that's not the intention. I think everyone has to find their level of cleanliness, and/or be able to carve out time to make it there. I think about her often, kind of as an inspiration I guess. Having people like her to inspire mme has really helped me to be a bit more on the ball with my housework. Also, I don't think telling your kids you'll read a story to them after you finish something is bad. In fact, I think it would show them about priorities and goal setting. AND, I can tell you that washing dishes or weeding with my mom were some of my greatest bonding moments with her. We had the best talks while doing mundane tasks, and while she taught me how to do chores. I've noticed now as an adult that those chores are some of my favorite things to do in the house b/c of the memory attached to them. You probably have multiple memories like that too. I'm saying all this for my own benefit as well. This topic is something I stress about a ton, and getting things done during the day is a topic that has weighed heavily on my mind recently, so that partially explains the super long comment.

And just so you know, I find all the things you do amazing. Between blogging, working, cooking, and the extra activities you throw in with your kids, and for yourself, it seems like you add extra hours into the day that others don't seem to have. To me, you do a fantastic job at what you do!

lanada said...

yesterday i read something (i think in the ensign, actually) that i really liked. and since i'm not a mom and not dealing with these issues, i will pass on the wisdom of others and hope i remember it when i need it.

rather than telling your kids "no"--about anything, whether it's "can i have a cookie?" or "can you read me this story?"--tell them "yes, but..." you fill in the particulars. "yes, but let's wait until after dinner so it will be a special treat," or, "yes, but let's pick up this room first so it will be nice and clean when daddy gets home." things like that. everyone's happy because everyone gets what they want and you don't have the guilt of saying no all the time.

for what that's worth...

lanada said...

also, you have always held yourself to an impossibly high standard. it's ok to let that go sometimes. even when your house isn't spotless, your children are beautiful, your husband loves you dearly, and you are cultivating your mind and your interests... you are fabulous and i love you.

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