Finish loading the dishwasher. Finish cutting the cucumbers. Finish sending an email. Finish changing diapers. When I’m in a get-things-done whirl, I hear Abby ask,
“Mommy, would you do a puzzle with me?”
“Mommy, can you do the wheel barrel with me?”
And Henry usually pipes in with, “Mama, hold you??”
“Just a second….” Or “I’m coming….” I usually reply.
When she was three, Abby started to say in response, “But I don’t see you coming…”
She called me on the carpet at the tender age of three. She was right. I wasn’t coming. I was a good five to ten minutes away from joining her. Why didn’t I just say so? So I upgraded to, “Just a minute, sweetie…” , delaying the inevitable push for my time, undervaluing my daughter and reinforcing the fact that I definitely cannot keep time.
My reality is that some of these important tasks have to be done and cannot be put off. For instance, if the dishwasher is full and the sink is full of dirty dishes, I have to put away and reload. On garbage day, I have to take the cans and recycling to the curb. I have to feed the family and clean up the kitchen and I have to make lunches. And although they must feel valued, children also must learn that they can’t always have what they want exactly when they want it. Wheel barrel races and snuggles must wait.
My other truth is that sometimes I deem tasks as urgent when really, well, they’re not. This feigned urgency is insidious, quietly creeping into my time with my family with more and more frequency. No one wins in the “Just a Minute” world. I would love to play, but I have to get other things done, too. I’m frustrated that I’m not able to finish a task and they’re understandably aggravated that Mommy is always saying, “Just this one more thing…”
So I’m recalibrating my priorities. I'm getting off the carpet and I’m going to be a better time manager. Does it really HAVE to be done now (or do I just WANT it to be done now?). If it’s gotta be done, I’m going to honestly estimate the time needed to complete it and set my kids’ expectations accordingly. I’m gonna try. Because if I continue at my current pace it won’t matter how many other things I've gotten done if my children are unhappy because they can’t catch a slot on my To Do list.