Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Focusing on the task at hand...the downside

When my life was a duel between grad student and homemaker, I almost always had to just do what had to be done, one step at a time. Especially when our commute took up nearly three hours a day. THREE HOURS.

As a full-time "SAHM" now, I still use this approach for most everyday tasks. I don't really want to look at the broader view of the day and cringe at how much is full of mundane, repetitive housekeeping chores. If I just follow a rhythm of doing a few things that need to be done, then play with my children, take a break to read and have a mocha, then do a few more things that need to be done...then usually everything gets done and I don't feel overwhelmed.

The problem comes when I want (or need) to do more than just maintain the household. In Sheila Wray Gregoire's excellent blog, she asked yesterday for readers to comment on the biggest source of stress and "busy-ness" in their lives (she's getting ready to teach us how to simplify, woohoo!). This was an easy answer for me: House. Work.

I already know what I need to do to streamline housework. Mostly it involves some storage containers and a weekend of deep cleaning. But before I get storage containers, I need to paint my bookshelves. And before I paint my bookshelves I need to refinish my dining table and paint it. Which is going to require some coats of polyurethane, which means I need to clear out space in the garage (which is full of boxes of books waiting to go on freshly painted bookshelves). Before I do that, I need to spend an evening finishing up the final little details on my awesomely cute coffee table-turned chalkboard activity table.

Oops. Anyone see a problem with my (non) plan of action? If I just take care of the task at hand, I'll never actually complete the above list of projects. Fortunately, by writing out the list I was able to see that a lack of strategy won't work. And now that I type that out..."duh".


  1. Homemaking as a Career is probably the most unappreciated and most important career in the world as well as one of the most challenging.
    To make a house a home, a haven in a chaotic world, a place your family can unwind and de-stress, the place you'd all rather be than anywhere else in the world can be a challenging and very rewarding and fulfilling job. You've discovered part of the secret, take time to recharge your own batteries and prioritize.

  2. your last line made me giggle :)
    Off subject... I have a couple o' questions, hope you don't mind... are you planning on staying home full time long term? What degree did you end up with and are you no longer interested in pursuing a career to use it now? Or is that later down the line? Just curious is all :)

  3. Jodi -- Questions are always welcome! Almost as much as giggles. :)

    Yes, I am planning on staying home full time (and homeschooling when the time, next fall, oh my!). I switched from a PhD to a masters program last winter when I realized having a second baby earlier than expected was going to require some modifications of The I'm actually still working on my masters thesis and will hopefully finish it in the next month (and then fly back to WA to defend it). If all goes well, I'll end up with a masters in infectious diseases and immunology. And if I don't...oh well.

    At this time, I do not have any career plans beyond homemaking (and maybe some writing and editing thrown in the mix).