Monday, January 30, 2012

How to do nothing for 31 Days


While individuals vary in their levels of ambition, I am pretty certain that most mothers are unaware of the overambitious manner in which they approach their normal day. Wake up, get the kids off to school (or set on their homeschooling curriculum), and survey the house. Set to work on the part that needs the most tending to, while reviewing the day’s calendar in your head and mentally tackling the first chore on your to-do list for the day. Delegate to tomorrow’s – or next week’s – to-do list that pile of papers sitting on your desk, unless there is something in there with a looming deadline.

My New Year’s Resolution this year was very different from my normal list of ten areas in which I can improve. I decided I needed to “reclaim my time”. I had to limit how much of my valuable time I gave away outside the home, so that I had something left over to give to my family. There is nothing really pressing to do once Christmas is over, so why not give myself a period of rest during the month of January? So I set about to do as little as possible for 31 days.

My husband is permanently like-minded, seeing the home as his haven for rest after his long work day. If he is home, he is most likely on the couch. I joined him on New Year’s Day, resting and napping and watching television with the children. In the middle, I made homemade pizzas and cookies with the kids. Then we went back to resting. That was a great start to the year.

I had also given myself a week off from taking writing assignments in between Christmas and New Year’s so that I could be fully present to the kids. So when they started school, I started working again. But I restrained myself in bidding on work, so that I would not be overwhelmed with overlapping deadlines, nor would I have to work past the time the kids got home from school.

This strategy worked out great. I was able to go through my days at a normal pace, get my work done plus the basic housework, and be sitting in the window with newspaper in hand by the time the school bus arrived. I could be completely present to the children, helping with homework, and making dinner while they worked in the next room. I left some chores for them to help with, such as carrying the laundry downstairs and setting the table. My two younger children had a re-awakened interest in playing the piano, so I pulled out my beginner’s book (which is 30 years old) and started from Middle C.

Over the Christmas vacation the DVD player had ceased reading disks, but the VCR still worked. So we reorganized all our old VHS cassettes and reacquainted ourselves with some really good old children’s movies. Some of the original Walt Disney movies, such as Dumbo, my littlest one had never seen. She would pick one out and we would cuddle up on the couch for two hours.

During high school testing week, my teenage daughter accompanied me to the Catholic school to help me in my volunteer hour overseeing the kindergarten lunch period. Afterwards, we stopped at our favorite Chinese restaurant. We were great friends for a couple of hours – until I reminded her she needed to clean her room. I also got to go to one of her track meets.

After each day, I was completely happy with how I had chosen to spend my time that day. At the end of this month, I am feeling rested and ready to prepare for tackling my busy spring season. My family is happy and secure. Can the job of Mommy be done while doing next-to-nothing? I think my month-long experiment has proven that it can be.

“Be still, and know that I am God.” – Psalm 46:10

1 comment:

Barb, sfo said...

That is GREAT!! Sounds like it was good for you and for your whole family. I'm impressed and inspired by your ability to reclaim your time.