Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Midweek Pick Me Up

Are there days when you feel completely overwhelmed as a mother? Or maybe I should change that -- are there days you don't feel completely overwhelmed? I have days when I want to throw my hands up in the air, lock the kids in the bedroom, turn on Oprah and sit down on the couch with a carton of ice cream.

I read a book that Deneal gave me called "Confessions of an Unbalanced Woman" by Emily Watts. I certainly feel unbalanced frequently. On page one she talks about the day that she realized she needed to change something, when her pile of clean socks from the laundry was completely overwhelming her (5 kids + 1 husband = a ton of socks). She read a tip in a magazine saying to buy a whole bunch of the same kind of sock, so that there would never be more than just one extra sock. So she did just that: purchased a whole bunch of white tube socks for her boys. I'll quote from the book the rest of the story.
"After a couple of weeks, though, I realized that I couldn't bear to make the
meticulous child wear the same socks as the kid with the kind of stinky feet
who didn't really change his socks often enough anyway. Soon I found
myself matching those socks by gray-scale. This is no way to live
a balanced life. I knew the madness had to stop, but it was actually my
husband who pointed out the obvious solution to me. He looked me gently in
the eyes and said, "You know, honey, these kids are perfectly capable of
doing their own laundry." I'm embarrassed to admit that this had not even
occurred to me. I was the mom, and I had always operated under the
assumption that doing the laundry was the mom's job. And that was probably
true when the children were four and two years old, but now that they were
fourteen and twelve, and had several more siblings, it wasn't working so
well...So now we teach our kids to do laundry at quite a tender age."

This hits a nerve with me. How many things do I do just because I can do it better than my 5 and 3 year olds? They can certainly put their own clothes in the dirty clothes basket, even though I can do it faster. Also, I can't stand sweeping the floor. I have given that job to my 5 year old (my husband is the one who came up with this brilliant idea; I wouldn't have thought of it). He doesn't do a very good job yet, but he is getting better, and at least something is getting done. And now, it's one less thing on my plate, which is already overflowing anyway.

So I challenge you to do one thing this week to simplify, to lessen the overwhelming feeling, or to delegate. And then tell us about it, and how you felt afterward.


Desta said...

I thought about this subject a lot during the "chores" week. There are so many things I could let the Z-girl do by herself or help me with that I just don't because it's "easier" if I do it myself. Then I realized it would really be EASIER if I could get her to a point where she doesn't need my help. Especially when number Big-O comes around and really needs me.

It is just so hard to see your baby growing up and it happens so slowly that you forget that you should push them to do things on their own. I think it's probably worse with the first because there isn't any reason why I can't do things for her (other than I don't want to). I guess that's why I should keep having more - to push the other one out of the nest.

Megan & Jon said...

Erin, Thank you for this, I needed it today. Olivia is going thru a clothes changing stage and I was wasting alot of time cleaning up behind her, After reading this today we made the rule you are welcome to change as many times as you want as long as what comes off gets put away. Granted I stand there while she puts it away but eventually she will learn.

Deneal said...

Do you think a four year old can do dishes by himself? Because I do not like dishes. :-)

I'm glad we are bringing up this chore/responsibility again. It's a good reminder for me to keep looking for ways to let A work around the house. This morning I made him put all his shoes away. After asking five times he put them away...and the raincoat, and the toys, and the blanket. So repetition really paid off this time.

Justin and Jessi said...

What a good idea! What to delegate to a 2 year old.. I will have to think about it... But thanks for the idea! It's GREAT! I guess it's true that we just do things because we are in the habit. Simplify. What a concept. :)