Still working on the “love is patient” part of my challenge, and I discovered something important. It wasn’t a happy discovery, necessarily, but definitely an important one.I am much more likely to lose my patience with my children when we are crunched for time. And (this is the important part), more often than not, we are crunched for time because of how I chose to use my time earlier that day or the night before.
Maybe last night I decided to read a for-fun book instead of finishing up my work, then in the morning I was forced to rush a few work items off my desk and get breakfast ready at the same time. And when my preschooler starts asking twenty questions concerning the origins and makeup of an egg, I have no patience for it. Her fault? Not so much.
Or maybe this morning I replied to several facebook messages and read articles on The Pioneer Woman, Made, AND drooled over several recipes from Elena’s Pantry instead of shuffling the laundry loads and picking up the kitchen. Then it’s time for errands (later than anticipated) so by the time we get home, I have no place to put the groceries (counters are covered with dishes and paperwork) and all the kids are super whiny because it’s past lunch time (because we left for our errands later than anticipated because I was admiring some photoshop actions). And do I have any patience or compassion for their hungry whininess? It’s not my first reaction, that’s for sure.
I admit that toddlers and preschoolers have an incredible knack for making every single teensy tiny little task take at least eighteen times longer than it reasonably should, but that’s to be expected. It’s what they do. I don’t really have any problem dealing with this until my own poor time management combines with their complete and total lack of time management to create a hurried and stressful scenario. If I’m in the mood for being honest with myself, I’m probably a bit more accountable for the whole time management thing than they should be.
So if I’m going to spread love in my home every day, and practicing patience is one step toward (or one part of) showing love to those around me, then I also have to put some focus into ordering my time (read: priorities) and daily routine in a way that leaves me capable of bringing patience to the often confounding and tedious scenarious created by young children.
Obviously this would be different in every family, but for me, it means focusing on three areas.
1. My Work-From-Home Time: I work half time from home doing computer things. Anytime I come up against a task I haven’t quite decided how to accomplish, or one I just don’t feel like organizing and completing right away, I automatically flip to whatever other Interenet page is open. Honestly? This is a ridiculous waste of time. My work is task-based (not time-based) so I just have to go back and finish these things eventually anyway! My first step in reorienting my work habits is going to be limiting my personal email and facebook checking to twice a day. I can do it.
2. My Children’s Schedules: My oldest is four so we don’t have anything regularly scheduled outside the house yet. That combined with my work-from-home non-schedule means we don’t have any schedule at all. For anything. While I don’t think a rigid schedule is necessary, I am going to implement a basic “order of events” for our day that ensures things like small chores, getting dressed, brushing teeth, picking up their room, and reading are all attended to at a regular time every day. The only unwavering schedule in our house is bedtime, and the kids are great at it, I think because we have always done it. I’m going to try to work that into more pieces of our day (with plenty of free time for playing, of course – they are quite young).
3. Running the Household: Confession: I’m naturally messy. Clutter doesn’t bother me. I’m perfectly happy to leave the dinner dishes where they lie for a few hours and deal with them later, when I feel like it. I rarely put something away as soon as I’m done with it. I leave cupboard doors open on a regular basis. All this might seem trivial, but it adds up to trouble and even I can see it. Things are just plain easier when when the general state of a room is “tidy”. Things are easier to find, easier to get started, easier to accomplish, easier to enjoy. A picked-up house generally offers less opportunities for frustration, and since frustration seems to directly oppose patience, a little less frustration is probably a good thing.
So those are my practical short-term goals. Doable. I hope.