I’m celebrating the children’s return to school by appreciating the shift in workload that the new season brings—more time in cars, less time managing divergent wants and needs. And a different set of Un-chores!
Let me begin by saying that I’m not a huge fan of chores. I could live with it if someone made our meals, did our dishes, cleaned our bathrooms, vacuumed our floors, did our laundry, and so on. I’d happily be Mrs. Brady if someone wanted to be Alice. BUT.
It’s the un-chores, the not-tasks, the in-between jobs that just do me in. Un-chores come between me and sitting down.
What do I mean by that? If you know the classic story of the married couple going to bed, you know what I’m talking about. And get your mind out of the gutter—it’s not that kind of going to bed.
At ten o’clock, both husband and wife decide to go to bed. At five minutes after ten, the husband’s snoring. At eleven, the wife finally finishes sorting socks, making lunches, signing permission slips, taking out the dog, bringing in the cat, etc. and then goes to bed. The Evil Un-chores kept her up.
Every additional individual in the house adds to the Un-chores geometrically. Think back—without kids, you look at the clock and say, “It’s time to go.” Maybe you pee or turn off the oven, but you’re out the door. With kids…well, I’d say that (by the time you’re experienced—I’m not talking your first newborn) you have to allow ten extra minutes before actual go-time. With two kids, allow fifteen. And always remember that tantrums trump schedules!
I work at home, so Un-chores, specifically “transition tasks,” are the bane of my existence. I normally work from 1-3pm and after 8pm. In order to start work by one, I have a series of un-tasks to do. Like this:
- Apx. 12:15pm, Little A. and Big A. pull into the driveway
- I open the door to gauge the mood and entice Little A. into the house*
- Dad dashes in to make his lunch so he can get back to work
- We take off Little A.’s shoes and socks, showering sand, pine needles and leaves everywhere*
- Little A. runs into the laundry room to strip;*
- I dust-bust the dirt (or the dog will eat it—I know he’s weird.)
- We have the “do you have to pee” conversation*
- We have the “what play clothes would you like” conversation*
- We have the “no, you really do need to wash hands” conversation*
- I put the finishing touches on his lunch and call him*
- We have the “I didn’t get time to play before lunch/You’ll get time to play after lunch” conversation*
- Little A. eats.* I am grateful that he eats faster than his sister, who, at his age, would have taken two hours to eat lunch if we let her.
- Little A. takes off for Quiet Time, aka time to build tons of tracks and towers in his room. He loves it.
- I clean up lunch, go to the bathroom, make coffee, do all the little things that slid during the lunch rush, kiss hubby goodbye.
- And then I sit down to work…
*Remember the whole tantrums-trump-schedules thing? All of the starred items require cooperation from the kid. Each of them represents a potential wild card, worth up to twenty minutes.
The internet doesn’t have enough memory for the stuff that has to fall into place for me to start work by 8pm each night! And if I start late, I work late, and I sleep less, and I don’t even have time to read a page of my latest attempt at leisure reading before I pass out…