Monday, January 25, 2010

Perpetual to-do list

No, not that list--the one you wrote a million to-dos on that will never get done. I mean one that gets used again and again and again. Like this:

In our house, if the dishes don't get washed at night, or the laundry's heaped on the couch, 5 other families are going to see the mess when they bring their children in in the morning. Not only is that super embarrassing, but it's important to me to create an organized, uncluttered environment for the children: it settles them and helps them focus their thinking and play. And in addition to normal family chores, we have extra prepare-for-tomorrow's-group-of-kids chores (like changing the bedding on 5 nap mats). Trying to get all that done--while simultaneously preparing, eating, and cleaning up dinner, spending a bit of time together as a family, getting Lucy to bed, and trying to have a few minutes of the day when we're not working--has presented, shall we say, just a wee bit of stress. (Do you hear the sarcasm there?)

We needed a system. Something to keep us on the same page so I wasn't nagging all the time. Of course, my thoughts went first to a to-do list (we both love crossing things off a list). I thought about typing it and printing a ton of copies, but what a waste of paper! So one night, I grabbed one of the kids' chalkboards and used a sharpie to write out our morning and evening chores. It sits on our kitchen counter, and we use it daily to keep track of what's been done and what's left to do.

Now, I can't say that the house is always spotless when the parents arrive in the morning. (In fact, I can pretty much promise that it's not. I work far too many hours a day and have had to give up the hope of a perfectly clean home.) But I can say that the things on the list are finished. And that helps me start the day on a much more peaceful note. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go change the mats so I can cross it off the list.

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