Wednesday, May 12, 2010

enjoying the journey

I like to get things done.

I look at the overwhelming stacks of papers and childrens' school work and endless things to schedule staring at me from my desk and feel that I can't function 'til it's gone.

I brace myself and bulldoze my way through piles of laundry.

I zoom to and from lessons late and frustrated and imagine the day when things are calm and peaceful.

As soon as I get through preparing for this lesson or hosting this event or making this meal or cleaning out this closet...

...then I'll be happy. Then I'll have time to skip off into the sunset enjoying my family.

But you know what? Life doesn't work like that. Things are never going to be "done." I'll never be all the way caught up. Sure, I can get more organized (which I'm working on right now and which is so liberating...more on that later). But even after my big house clean-out-mind-organization mumbo jumbo there will still be another deadline. Papers will invade our house to be filed and replied to. Fingernails will still need to be clipped. The toilets will still need scrubbing. All my children will still try to talk to me at the same time, and there will still be forty-five things pulling me in every direction.

I've been thinking so much about a quote someone brought up at Time Out for Women last month. They said we should "enjoy to the end" rather than just "endure to the end" (I think President Hinckley was the one who came up with that one). Life is meant to be enjoyed, not just bulldozed through which I've been guilty of lately. I've got to slow down enough to give that to myself and to my family. That comes with noticing the beauty of the moments like at Family Fun Night last week, but it also involves something more.

Since we will always have that list of to-dos, we can't shut our family off with our blinders on until we get it done or we'll never see our families. We must bring our families into that to-do list with us. If I stop to think about the times I've enjoyed family life the very most I realize that it is for sure when my kids (and husband) have been at my side "in" my to-do list. Things as complex as a huge service project or a photo shoot to things as simple as making dinner, emptying the dishwasher or cleaning out the toy closet. I don't think any of us would classify our saturday jobs as "fun" but I've got to admit, those jobs have made for some great memories. When we're working together good topics come up. Questions my kids have been wondering about come out. Deep discussions often ensue. And the warmth that togetherness brings becomes almost tangeable.

Sure it's much easier to do so many tasks alone. Even the thought of figuring out how to incorporate my family into some tasks is daunting. Let's be honest, moping the kitchen floor has never been an easy thing with a toddler clinging to your leg and keeping my kids attention for long enough to paint the garage together this summer (in my dreams...Dave, stop rolling your eyes), and teaching them to do their own laundry (I obviously have big summer plans) is going to take some creativity. But kids know how to do things we often don't give them credit for or let them do. Lu is a master at emptying the silverware from the dishwasher and she gleams with pride when we take the time let her do it. (Her older siblings gleam with pride watching/helping her too.)

So, I'm up for the task of involving my kids more. Because I want to enjoy the journey a little more with my family at my side. There's a great article about this here that made me think so much more about this. I'd love to hear how others get kids involved in the day-to-day tasks of life. (I know from experience that the answer is not just saying, "hey kids, come help with this.", I must be much more creative than that.) Please share if you have any great ideas!

I'm off to bake bread with Lucy instead of waiting 'til she's tucked safely out of the way (it's a half day so no school for her today).
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