Monday, August 31, 2009

The "to-do" list

Wow! It looks like I am only managing to write about once a week lately. I have lots of thoughts in my head, but not so much time to record them all. One things that's been on my mind is the struggle that I have between wanting to accomplish my daily "to-do" list and wanting to be available to play and just have fun with my boys. Now that I am back to teaching full time (I am actually a .8 FTE teacher) I feel the tug of the to-do list even more than ever. I often catch myself mentally going over what I need to get done even when I'm physically hanging out with my boys. And I hate that. I realized recently that I am almost never fully present when I am interacting with them. I might be half-listening to something they are saying, but the other half of my brain is thinking, "OK, I need to go fold and put away laundry, email my (Montessori)parents about XYZ, make playdough for the classroom this week, mop the kitchen floor, start prepping for dinner tonight, etc." Weekends are hard with this because it's so tempting to see a weekend as a two-day opportunity to check things off the list instead of a two-day opportunity to spend quality time with my children. I am going to really try to start making the quality time more of a priority and letting go of some of the "to-dos". This weekend I took my boys to a community event at our local park. I didn't really have a timeline in mind for how long we would be there. We ended up staying for almost 3 hours. It was SO nice to just go with the flow and not be always thinking, "OK, we need to hurry up and get home so I can..........." We just enjoyed our time together with no set ending point and it was really refreshing.

After church on Sunday I usually try to get out house straightened up and cleaned up before the school week begins. As a result I all too often tell my boys, "Just a minute" or "I can't play now because I have to............" when they ask me to play with them. This Sunday I resisted the urge and said, "Yes" when my little boy wanted to play Cootie with him. It was very freeing to just stretch out with him on his bedroom floor and play. Every time an "I need to go........." thought crept into my mind, I consciously pushed it away. My older son wandered back to his brother's room and hung out with us. It was a really good time. I am committed to trying to let my
"to-do" list take a back burner (within reason) so I can become more focused on spending quality time with my children. I'm already thinking ahead to what experiences we can enjoy together on the upcoming three-day weekend. I will admit that it's hard for me. I spend time at my school nearly every weekend during the school year. There just isn't time when I'm there teaching to get all the prep work done. And sometimes I really hate how my job takes me away from my family. However, I am hoping that I can find a good balance this year.

Enjoy a few photos I took of our Sunday Cootie game-playing.


Trisha said...

I am glad that I am not the only person that has that battle with being with my kids full mind and body. I too often find myself thinking about what needs to be done. You have me thinking now---I will also try and change this.

Tess said...

Hi Laura,

When I am working, trying to focus on something, I often get interrupted by thoughts of "Oh, I must do this" and "I shouldn't forget that". One way I have found of hugely reducing that happening is I instantly write it down. I has to be written somewhere that I know I will look, otherwise it doesn't work. Once my brain is confident I'm not gong to forget something (because it is now written down) it stops reminding me about it! Try that and see if it helps you be more present with your kids. Initially it might seem that you are constantly writing, but after a session or two, you'll have all the big thoughts down and won't need to do it so much.

Another thing I am challenged with is my choice of words. There are very few things in life we "must" do or "should" do. Consciously replacing thoughts containing those words with "choose to" or "I make a decision to" changes the power of those words and is less stressful for me.

Hope these might help a little. :)