15 minutes

Fly Lady? (the architect of my one hope of ever having a clean house) has a wonderful bit of philosophy: ? you can do anything for fifteen minutes. ? This is usually applied to dealing with piles of paper clutter, laundry, putting away holiday decorating, etc. ? But with a two-year-old and an infant, I’m learning how to do things for only? fifteen minutes, since that’s about the average length of time my hands are free before one or the other (or both!) is demanding attention. ? A single load of laundry takes all day to put away…two and three shirts at a time. ? Writing a Latin exam from scratch is nearly impossible. ? I haven’t picked up my sewing since my mom went home. ? At least I usually have more time to read while Samantha nurses.

On principle, I’m no fan of multitasking. ? I find it distrating and frustrating at best, and research is starting to bear out its detrimental effect on our ability to focus and work through complex problems. ? Is this the real cause of “mommy brain”, simply that our attention is so consistently diverted away from what we are doing? ?

But surely, I thought, there must be a bright side to this fragmented way of working. ? Something positive must come from this split focus on (at the very? least) house and child. ? Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

  • Sometimes you just need a break. ? (Hence the “15 minutes” advice.) ? When the laundry (or the exam) is getting the best of you, here’s a hungry baby to give you a wonderful excuse to shift gears and release relaxin.
  • Sometimes this is a reminder to me to include Lucy in what I’m doing rather than trying to keep her? distracted with something else. ? Then she can reap the double benefit of mommy time and play time, while learning about how whatever I’m doing is done.
  • Most (and I emphasise most, not all) of the housework can get done this way. ? Keeping track of it can be a challenge, but washing dishes doesn’t? really? require full attention to start with. ?

On the other hand, I am convinced that there is something important about being present in the moment. ? Even to the dishes. ? So I guess at this point, it’s just a matter of being present in each moment–briefly. ? And letting the laundry or the lawn go for a few minutes, rather than allowing it to distract from precious time with the people we love.

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