Friday, April 10, 2009

How My Day Goes...Usually...Sometimes

I thrive on structure and yet my natural tendency is to resist schedules. I'm quirky like that. When I was in college I would daydream about having nothing to do and nowhere to be at any certain time.  When I worked second shift hours I would pace the house all morning, unable to start any activity because I would only have to stop and go to work. I am prone to tunnel vision. Being a mother has only led to a tiny improvement in this department. Violet is pretty good at reminding me to cook by chirping, "I hung-eee! I firsty!", every 30 minutes all day long. She is not so good at keeping me on task with laundry and mopping. I never hear her squeal, "My hamper is full and smells like old pee!"

My real problem is that I do not multitask.  I can, if I have to, but it is not in my nature.  I like to do one thing at a time.  When Violet was an infant this tendency to unitask resulted in my sitting on the couch, babe in arms, most of the day.  I was so tired that I couldn't even engage the ability to multitask. The switch was broken.  I tried to go back to work (for three whole days) when Violet was 4 months old and I could NOT do it.  I spent the entire day thinking about Violet, thinking about pumping in the bathroom, thinking about seeing her at lunchtime, thinking about getting home to her.  I was not an efficient, or present employee. I knew that I could either be an employee or a mother. I couldn't be both.  I was already struggling with the whole wife/mother combo and working put me over the edge to the dark side.

So, I spent three years wallowing in luxurious, Mommy misery.  I allowed Violet to determine the rhythm of our day and then I frantically attempted to do all of my housework after she went to bed.  Eventually, something had to give, right. My free pass on having a messy household was about to expire.  No one can expect the mother of a baby to keep a clean house, but the mother of a lone preschooler should be able to get out the vacuum occasionally. 

I tried making a schedule for myself that I could hang on the refrigerator and refer to throughout the day.  I stopped looking at it in a day and a half.  The paper could not compel me to action. I had operated on a visual system of home maintenance for so long, that I had a hard time changing.  By visual I mean; I see the dirt/overflowing laundry/sink full of dishes and I take care of it.  I needed to be more proactive, so that I wasn't always cleaning in haz-mat mode.  I mean, if you can see dirt on the carpet, it's been dirty for a long time.

In my desperation I started looking online for a solution. I looked around awhile and found Chore Buster. It makes a schedule and then emails it to you and anyone else who does chores in your household.  It worked okay for awhile, but it was essentially the same as posting a list on my fridge. It wasn't interactive or flexible.  Then I found Remember the Milk.  RTM not only lets you create a highly flexible schedule, but you can subscribe to your own schedule and post it on your homepage (iGoogle in my case) and see what you need to do everyday.  The thing that really sold me, was that I could mark tasks as completed and they would disappear from view.  If I don't have time to do something I can postpone it and the task moves to the next day.  If I get ahead of schedule I can complete chores early and mark it off the list.  Of course, the program is meant for people with WAY more to do than keep house and mind a child, so you can use it to schedule and list absolutely everything.

My house has never been cleaner and yet I don't seem to spend much time cleaning.  It appears that all I need is a computer generated mother to remind me to pick up after myself.   I still don't schedule my crafting, or storytime with Violet, but all my unpleasant tasks are laid out in a manageable format and that makes me feel much less guilty about my unstructured, mostly in pajamas, life.

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