Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Mantra of a Home Worker

I took this quiz some time ago and discovered that I have a full blow addiction problem as defined by Workaholics Anonymous. Actually, it would be difficult to be a competent mother at all, let alone a mother of many, and not answer "yes" to many of the questions on the quiz. The truth is that mothering a houseful is a lot of work -- it is a lot of housework, organizing, meals and laundry, discipline, diapers and teaching. Even when you do get to sit down, there is someone there who must talk or must sit right on your lap. Nights don't necessarily bring much relief either, as the little nighttime visitors start trickling in sometime after midnight.

The question is then, how do we balance all this work and all the needs of the little people around us without getting discrouraged and burned out? One thing I have done is to create priorities. For me, there are a few key tasks that definitly need attention each day. These tasks form the backbone for my daily to do list. Attending to these priority tasks helps me to feel some success at the end of the day, even when it feels like I am not accomplishing much else. Mentally recalling my priorities has become a mantra, for as I think over and over, "what's next?" through the day, I just mentally consider what I have to do with my laundry, dinner, school, and desk work; laundry, dinner, school, desk; laundry, dinner, school, desk -- all day long.

1. LAUNDRY - I have learned by now that the laundry is hardly ever totally done. That would de a major accomplishment. However, I feel free knowing that even if the laundry is never done, I can keep up with it by doing some each day. With this in mind, I don't have the burden of doing the impossible task of finishing it all each day, but am empowered to keep up with some of it.

2. DINNER - Breakfast and lunch just seem to happen easily, and the kids are able to do most of the clean up of these meals. Dinner, though, has been a burden for me. By making it an item on my list of daily priorities, it gets the attention it deserves and I remember to think about it early in the day when I am making my plans. If I know what I am making for dinner before noon, and even pull a few things out, I feel so much better about this daily task. When I have a nice dinner on the table at the end of the day, I feel so much more successful about what I accomplished in the hours before. My kids and husband appreciate it to.

3. SCHOOL - I should have put school first, but having this task on my everyday to-do list is a reminder to me that a priority is to keep the kids on task, to give structure to their day, to be available to look over work and answer questions, and to give my pre-schoolers some one-on-one teaching time. When I commit myself to giving each of my children some focused attention with school work, I feel much more encouraged about my accomplishments.

4. DESK WORK - The requirements of this task vary more than the others from day to day, but it is an important area to give attention to in order to keep everyone and every task organized. Each morning I check over my e-mails, check my calendar, determine what errands I need to do and when, add to my shopping lists, check who I need to make calls to, look over our bank accounts, and make plans for when to pay the bills. Taking some uninterrupted time each morning for some planning enables me to write a list of secondary priorities. Being organized in this way enables me know exactly what I can get accomplished when I have a moment here and there through the day. This is a big stress reliever, as I don't have to worry about what I am not getting done or what I am forgetting because I have already done the thinking ahead of time.

This little system is so helpful and flexible. There are those days where I may make a nicer dinner and give less attention to the laundry, or I may have a laundry marathon and plan for a simple dinner. This works because my priorities are determined ahead of time and as the craziness of the day takes over I can hang on to my established daily routines and my thoughtfully written to-do list to keep me sane and successful.
Laundry, Dinner, School, Desk

Peace, Hope