I’m feeling a bit swamped. I can easily get overwhelmed by anticipating things I need to do. I like to make lists of things so I don’t forget what I am doing, and often write down things I’ve already done and immediately cross them out so that I feel like I am already ahead.
I may just be tired from exercise and running around (in the non-exercise kind of way) doing errands. I was realizing there are a lot of things that need to be done, Every. Day. I know this seems a bit rote, but when I start to figure out what I do in a day, a lot of it is the same. And I do it every day, over and over. I often find this is the epitome of what having kids is: it’s chaos and crazy-making, but it’s doing the same things over and over again, and doing it every day. (How many times do you change a baby’s diaper and/or outfit in a day in those first few months? How many times do you answer the same questions? How many times do you make the same cheese/pb&j/ham sandwich in a week?)
I have realized that I have to get used to, and even embrace, this repetitive nature. If I don’t, I lose. If something needs to be done, it’s not the kid who’s going to change their mind and go do it. No, if I want it done (and sometimes I couldn’t care less but it still needs to be done), I have to be the parent and give in and get it done. It’s not a battle of wills I will win if it’s something that I need/want to begin with.
I tell my kid to do the same things every day; I nag, I repeat, I remind. “Don’t forget to brush your teeth!” And then one day she does it on their own, unprompted, unannounced and spontaneous. She is not late, she has made time to do what I keep asking her to do. I am so pleased. I praise liberally, soaking up the moment and think, She is growing and getting more responsible and one day we will talk about how she feels and her views of the world and we won’t have to battle about teeth brushing. The next day I have already let that nag drop, I am past that reminder, the kid knows to brush her teeth. She’s got this. She is older and I respect that. Yet as I am readying to leave the house she pipes up and says, “Hey, I didn’t brush my teeth.” “Why not?” “You didn’t ask me to.” So I breathe deeply to calm down and I help and remind and get it done, a little faster than probably should happen. The next day I ponder how to approach the teeth-brushing: let it slide and hope the kid remembers? Do I prod? Do I ask? I try to sound casual, “Did you brush your teeth already?” I get an explosion:”You don’t have to remind me all the time. Geez, I know already!” Right. I guess that means it will get done? I ask again in 15 min, “Are your teeth brushed.” I say it more like a statement. I get a scowl in return. “What was that for?” I ask. “I brushed my teeth the other day by myself and you were so happy. I brushed them today after you asked and you don’t even say anything. It’s like you expect me to just do it, by myself, every day. Like I’m supposed to know that I have to do this on my own, all the time.”
Huh! Maybe all that seemingly wasted hot air is working. Maybe something is sinking in. Maybe that ‘everyday’ list will get smaller and then I will wonder where the time went.
But I know where the time went, and I know what I did and do with that time. I repeat myself. I do the same things, a lot, every day. I make lists to make myself feel as though I am further ahead than I am with my to-dos. I brush my teeth.
*How often do you spend time thinking about what needs to get done, before it gets done? Is this wasting time, or good planning? (And can this effectively apply to kids?)