I was musing today about how many little tasks I do all the time around the house and realised that it is these little tasks that help me keep control of it all. Planning and being organised are really important as well but it is the small stuff that keeps it all going.
As a first-time Mum, I was overwhelmed by everything to do with the house and my baby. I managed but only just. So, for example, the recycling (not part of the weekly waste collection then) used to accumulate in the kitchen for several weeks before I got it out of the house, I never planned more than 2 or 3 days ahead for meals, non-food shopping would remain in its bags for days, catalogues and magazines would pile up as I waited for the magic moment when I would get round to looking through them, I kept books under my bed (no room for them anywhere else!), the long-gone breakfast bar was permanently hidden beneath piles of paper, etc etc.
When I look back, I am amazed at the contrast with our household now. Everything is much calmer and runs much better and it is all because I learnt to do things now, do things regularly, complete what I start and clear up after myself (and the children!) after every task and at the end of every day. All new habits that I had to learn (see Jane’s earlier article on habits)
So what were the little (and some not so little) tasks that I did today?
– washed up after breakfast including a small roasting tin that had been soaking overnight
– put the recycling from last night in the appropriate boxes outside
– made a list for my ‘boring’ shopping trip with such items as recycling batteries and buying a family diary for 2012
– checked the paper that we had aged using tea bags the day before to see whether it had dried out ok – it’s for a school project
– put the letters to be posted and the batteries to be recycled in my shopping bag to make sure I didn’t forget them
– put bedding in the washing machine to be finished when I got back from shopping
– went shopping
– put away the shopping when I came back, put away the bags it came in, put the receipts on my desk
– tumble-dried the bedding
– opened the post and recycled whatever I could immediately, and put the official stuff upstairs on my desk
– planned my menu for next week and did my Internet shopping order
– found my daughter’s piano books ready for her lesson
– put away the stuff left by both children in the living room from dressing gowns to game console controls
– checked that my daughter’s school trainers were dry and put them in her gym kit
– emptied the upstairs waste bins into one bag, ready to put into the dustbin tomorrow morning for the waste collection
– made up our bed with clean sheets
– as my daughter was sorting out which audio book she wanted to listen to as she went to sleep, I whisked around her room putting away clothing, picking up items from the floor and gave her a pile of paper to decide what she wanted to keep and what could be recycled. (A few months ago, I realised that I had forgotten my nightly 5 minute clearup and it showed so I have started again and it really makes a difference)
And I now do all this stuff on automatic pilot. It just doesn’t occur to me anymore to leave the recycling or not sort out the shopping. Individually, none of the tasks took that long but they all helped towards making a clearer and calmer environment for everyone in it, which makes me a calmer person and, I hope, a better Mum!