I sometimes feel like I am drowning under a list of the most mundane tasks. Taken individually, they are nothing, a mere moment of the day. But put them all into one mental list and they reach the point of becoming so daunting that I find myself frozen to the spot, in a muddle over which thing to tackle first. And whilst I dither, more irritating little tasks build up behind the already scary list and make me feel even more stressed out.
I’m a naturally pretty organised person (don’t laugh, I actually am), but throw three kids, a job and a husband into the mix and my innate organisation is thwarted at almost every turn. I love a list, but most of all I love being able to tick things off it. I feel I have reached the point now where I’ve tipped so far over into disorganisation that I can’t even write the list any more. It would just make me cry: there would be next to no ticks on it.
As the kids grow and their social lives become considerably better than mine, this feeling of being overwhelmed by the amount of stuff I have to keep in my head and to achieve grows too. Just keeping on top of the day to day seems to take up every waking minute sometimes, so accommodating any additional tasks is just beyond me. I know it’s a lot to do with my mood: most weeks I feel in control the majority of the time, despite the demands of a young family. This week, I absolutely do not.
There is just always so much to do. There are the usual weekly and daily tasks to complete, such as the online food shopping (never attempt a full supermarket shop with two or three small children in tow) and, of course, the endless washing, cooking and cleaning. Lose concentration over the washing schedule just briefly in this house and you find yourself drowning in the bloody stuff. These things, for obvious reasons, top the To Do list. Failure to do them is basically child neglect.
Next are the ad hoc important things that crop up: the things I forget to do if I don’t process them immediately. School admin, for example. If a form comes back from school or nursery, it goes to the top of the list, bypassing all the poor hangers-on that have been waiting for months for me to get to them. I have to complete admin like that immediately; failure to do so almost always results in it being lost and forgotten. I have already been called in by the teacher once on the day of a school trip as I had failed to pay or sign the permission agreement. Not ideal.
Then there are things I have to get done at some point but the rest of life keeps getting in the way. I’ve been wanting to hang a picture since Christmas. Talking of Christmas, I’ve also been meaning to put the tree stand away for a good while too. I have a badge to sew on a Beavers uniform and a button on a cardi, a wedding outfit to buy, a hotel to research and book, several clothes drawers and toy boxes to sort, a birthday to plan, multiple piles of random crap scattered around the house to deal with. The list goes on and on.
It is these little things that always end up at the bottom of the list and that chip away at me, reminding me that I have, yet again, failed to get them done. On a bad day, my continuous inability to clear these annoyances from my mental list seems to epitomise my endless failings as a home maker. Surely a better mother would have dealt with all that crap weeks ago, wouldn’t they? Surely a better mother would just do it, instead of sitting down and writing a blog post about it, right? Fair point.
There also seems to be only so much room in my brain these days. I forget things constantly – add forgetfulness to my list of failings. Work is pretty busy at the moment so my head is buzzing after my two working days a week and, when I have to switch back into domestic mode, I feel unable to pack everything back into my battered suitcase of a brain. The days rush by in a confusion of preschool activities, clubs, meal times, school runs and general mayhem. The only pauses are T’s post lunch nap, when M settles down to watch some TV, and after about 8:30 at night, when I am usually completely exhausted and in bed by 10pm.
Yes, I could spend T’s nap time running about hammering nails into walls to hang pictures but that is my only time to sit down and have a cuppa. I’m well aware that I am achieving very little during that hour, but it helps me get through the day. On the days when I fill nap time with washing or cooking, I am a wreck by bedtime. It is my oasis of calm in an altogether manic day. If it is bad parenting to take that time out rather then getting things done, so be it. Needs must.
This has been a particularly messed up week. I can’t move for screwing something up or remembering an urgent thing I should have done last week. I am hopeful next week will be an improvement but, even if it is, I doubt very much I will get round to hanging that picture.
Unless I just get up and do it right now. That would be novel. And it would make me feel a good deal better.
Right, hang on……
One picture hung. One happy boy. One mental tick. That wasn’t so hard and I feel a tiny bit better too. Now, where is that Christmas tree stand……