My family is always complaining that I don't sit and play games, or go outside with them because I always have stuff to do, "stuff" being housework, laundry, meals, etc. It makes me feel so guilty and I often wonder if I have my priorities in order. When I sit and think about it, I have probably spent one-third of my years as a mother and wife feeling guilty about things I've not done. Another one-third I spent worrying about family and the remaining third actually having fun with them.
However, I had a light bulb moment the other day while doing laundry. As I was spending several seconds unfolding balled-up, dirty socks, turning t-shirts right side out, and unraveling rolled-up jeans, that it is THESE kinds of things that take up a good chunk of my time each day. I know it takes merely seconds to do these little things but those seconds eventually turn into minutes and add those to all the other menial tasks like that around the house, which for some reason are MY responsibility, and voila, my time, as well as my attitude is shot.
Well, I got to pondering that day in the laundry room that perhaps my dear family is just not knowledgeable in some areas and perhaps I should develop a How To Manual for menial household tasks. Then maybe, once everyone in the house has read the manual and can efficiently perform these tasks all on their very own, I can have those precious minutes back to spend with them. All these years I thought my poor family was just lazy and just expected Mom to do it all. Little did I know that it was just a lack of education and I just needed to teach them.
I know how hard it is to take your socks off each night without turning them inside out and balling them up. To pull them off from the end of your toe instead would take tons more time and may strain your hand somewhat but I think with some How To steps, some diagrams, and a little practice, the socks may come off right side out and flat. What a concept!
As far as removing t-shirts go, to take one arm out at a time and then over your head is gonna be a tougher lesson. That does take several more minutes than just ripping it off inside out and requires some coordination, and maybe even some double-jointedness in the shoulders, of which not all people are capable of, so I guess we'll see. We may have to work at that lesson a little longer than others.
The same might be true for the rolled jeans. If you're not athletic enough to reach down and pull the jeans off from the ankle, then this lesson may take some time, and perhaps some yoga lessons. I will try to lay out the steps as trouble-free as I can but will allow for extra time on that too.
One task I perform alone several times a day is pushing in table chairs. This is a toughy! Not only do you have to recognize the chair is out and not lined up with the others but then you have to physically lift and slide it back into place. I understand this might be difficult for my 4-year-old, but I'm pretty sure the others in the house can handle it. I just need to make sure I lay out the complicated steps very clearly in my How To Manual so as to not confuse anyone or cause injury. I wouldn't want anyone coming back after pushing in a chair with smashed toes or a torn rotator cuff.
Another task similar to the chairs is shutting cabinet doors. That task also requires initial recognition and then physical labor. Now, I know all my family is physically capable of performing this task, even the four year old, because I've witnessed them all opening the cabinet doors. In fact I've even seen them all yank the fridge door open and it's much heavier than cabinet doors, so this task should be pretty easy to master. I think the recognition that the door is still open and taking the time to close it, is going to be the hardest part to learn on this one. I use to get angry when I'd walk in the kitchen and see ten cabinet doors standing wide open but now I am at ease knowing my sweet family just didn't know any better. Bless their hearts!
I'm certain that once they master the cabinet doors they'll have the knowledge to then recognize to turn off the light when they leave a room or turn off a TV that is not being watched. Distinguishing between on and off can be a little tricky but I am confident that I can teach them with my How To Manual. I will save the "throw away the empty box when you take the last popsicle" task and the "how to take your empty glass to the kitchen when you're finished" task for the end of the Manual so I can ensure they have mastered their recognition skills first. Maybe by that time they will also not feel so unsure of themselves and more confident in their abilities. I can picture how proud they will all be and how proud I will be as well. Just think, all I need to do was TEACH and not complain. Sure wish I would have known that years ago.
I'm sure there are other moms out there that may need a How To Manual for their family's house, so maybe I should make some copies of mine or perhaps I could even hold some How To classes. Whatever it takes to get those precious seconds back to spend with our families.