Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Processing Stuff

When you get down to it, I am a processor. I process stuff. In one form or another, this is what I do most of the day.

Unpack the backpacks and lunch boxes, extract the contents, file and handle accordingly. Repack.

Collect, clean, fold and return laundry. Load and unload dishwasher.

Get, open, act upon, toss or file the mail.

Buy, put away and prepare groceries. Set and clear the table.

Pick up and refile shoes, toys, games, DVDs.

I could go on and on, but you get the picture. It's probably all too familiar anyway, since this is what we all do to some degree!

The time I spend with the people, rather than the things, in my life is different. It is time to enjoy because it is not task or accomplishment-oriented (except at breakfast and bedtime, when I am processing my children as well). I sure wish I had more of this "people" time and less of the "processing stuff" kind!

The truth is, running a house with seven people in it takes a certain amount of processing. I am always getting rid of things, to the dismay of my packrat family members, because the less stuff we have, the less I have to process. Fewer toys means less to organize and pick up. The faster the junk mail ends up in the trash, the less time it has to make a pile. A barer pantry makes it less overwhelming to decide what we are having for dinner.

FlyLady has been an enormous help to me in this area over the years. If you aren't familiar with her, check her out here. But even knowing the right way to keep on top of the things in my life doesn't always mean that I consistently do it, especially when pregnancy exhaustion or a new baby ruffle the routines of my life.

I am now reading A Mother's Rule of Life by Holly Pierlot and this is helping, too, by incorporating the other aspects of my vocation that are missing by simply ordering the house. This book covers the ordering of the spiritual person, the marriage and the mothering, as well as the physical environment. I haven't yet written my rule, but I plan to soon and hope it brings much needed balance.

I want my family to live in a pleasant and organized environment. I want them to find their favorite foods in the refrigerator and their socks in their drawers. But I also don't want to have children who grow up believing that their mother thinks the housework is more important than they are, since this is where she spends the bulk of her time.

My children are just now getting old enough to be of consequential help around the house. I think that this must be the key to "having it all." Working with them rather than around them on the tasks of the house will bear fruit of all kinds. I will have more time with them, less time working alone, and they will learn the practical skills of caring for a home as well as the larger view of contributing to the family. On paper it sounds great. Now I just have the small matter of actually getting them started! This will require a heroic display of patience and perserverence on my part, as it is always so much easier in the short term to do it myself.

But attempt it I shall. Just as soon as I process us through the last week of school!


Michelle said...

I thought Flylady plus MROL was a good combo. Do you know Holly has a website, too?

Amy Parris said...

Please keep at it. As the only sister in a family of boys, my mom taught me household chores but not my brothers because she said it was just too hard to teach them.

My life and hers would have been so much better if she would have stuck to it. I have vowed not to do the same with my kids.

Good luck with the training and be sure to let us know what actually works.

Mary Ann said...

I too read MROL but I can't agree with Holly Pierlot about the order of importance of the "5 P's." In the book she really glosses over their origin. She says something like "I remember a priest once told me..." I agree that God is first (she calls Him "Prayer," I guess to make it a "P" word, but there is so much more to God than prayer).

But putting oneself next does not sit right with me. I do not find that anywhere else in the writings of the Father and Saints of the past 2000 years. Can you hear Jesus telling St. Faustina, "Relax. Take a break. Have a day out, don't come home until real late. You need to find yourself."

So much for emptying oneself in the service of others!