Monday, January 21, 2013

The Seven Minute Solution

You're home with the kids all morning.  You're concentrating on lessons and somewhere in the background, someone is making a mess.  Or there is still a mess from breakfast.  Then you make lunch, and low and behold, more mess.  By rest time, there's a whole lot of mess to take care of but you're worn out and are anxious for the "me time" that afternoon naps (or bid kid rest time) afford.  

Ok, I'll quit using "you" like I'm addressing other moms' issues.  I'm absolutely talking about myself here.  While I do try to keep the kids on task with clean-up after a lesson, a game, a Lego-frenzy, and meals, some things fall through the cracks of their toddler and elementary school fingers.  By rest time I'm left with little bits to finish off or pick up here and there.  And I also have to move the laundry along.  And prep for dinner.  And check that the toilets have been flushed.  And call the dentist, doctor, bank, fill in the blank.  What I really want to do when I finally have a little time to myself is eat my lunch, read a book, pray, check my email, read my favorite blogs, call a friend.  It's hard to crash on the couch knowing there's a sink full of dishes or crayons scattered all over (and under) the table.  It's hard to relax looking at the toys lying on the floor in front of you.  But I usually blow nap-time chores out of proportion and say things like, "I can't possibly scrub out the sink, it will take up all my free time."  So sometimes I would do nothing *gasp* in the chore department, and then after nap time was over, it would still have to be done but with kids under foot.  Didn't help my afternoon mood, I'll tell you that much.

A while back, I decided to set the kitchen timer for seven minutes immediately after the kids were settled and just see what I could get done.  Seven because it's more than five but less than ten.  I would work quickly and efficiently and accomplish whatever I could, and then I'd stop when the timer went off and not feel too guilty about turning my attention to a book or the Internet.  

The first time I tried it I was shocked.  The chores that I was so dreading because they would take up all my free time, were finished before the timer went off.  What??  How did that happen?  I don't know, but it happens consistently and it shows how irrational I can be when it comes to judging the extent of my work.  I use this system regularly now, to remind me how much I can get done in a short amount of focused time.    My husband and I sometimes use it together after we get the kiddos in bed for the night.  We want nothing more than to sit down with a beer, chat about our day, check sports scores and stats (him, not me), sew (me, not him), email and watch Netflix.  But if we set the timer for seven minutes and go - we can pick up toys, finish the laundry, start the dishwasher, hand wash the rest, set up the coffee pot for the next morning, and on and on.  

It feels SO much better to sit down to relax after a very productive seven minutes.  Seven minutes is not a lot of time to devote to the home before I devote an hour to myself.  Right?  Try it.  You might be surprised.  Today, in seven minutes, I took out the garbage, switched the loads of laundry, washed the dishes that were in the sink, scrubbed the sink out with Comet, cleaned off the counters, put away some toys, flushed the downstairs toilet (argh, when will they learn??) and made my lunch.  Not bad.  Now I'm sitting at the computer with the satisfaction of knowing I didn't completely waste nap time on R&R.  I spent it in R&R&R - responsibility, rest and recreation.  

Seven minutes is not a lot.  But a lot can be done in seven minutes.  The seven minute solution is this busy moms' go-to time management strategy - you know I'm busy, so there's definitely stuff to be done in those seven minutes, but you know I'm busy, so I'll be giving myself a break when the timer goes, "beeeeeep!"

(The photos used in here were truly un-staged.  You're lucky I didn't get one of the toilet *wink*)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your comment, Theresa! Shannon could be in advertising! :) Might have to set my timer for 7 minutes today... Have a great day!


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