Quick: Grab a pen!
Write a list of all the stuff you think needs to be done this week with your kids. Doesn’t matter what you use. An old envelope or market receipt will work. Just start writing. Go until you run out of things to put on the list. Include even random stuff like “Find Penny’s missing ski glove” and “Remember to buy nail polish remover” because those get in the way of remembering to jot down “Study fractions on Tuesday night so I can help Aaron with them on Wednesday morning.”
Once you’ve got a list, take a break. Get a cup of coffee or tea. Read a blog or the newspaper. Then come back to your list. And before rereading it, add to it. Anything you forgot. Now reread the whole list and allow it to jog your memory for one more thing. Add it.
Now that should be a good, long, somewhat exhaustive (and exhausting list!). Today, I want you to pick one thing to do on that list. Just one. Pick the one that leaps off the page, gets your attention, draws you. And do it. Focus on it. Here’s how:
1. Prepare for it. Take the time right now to get what you need to do that task. If it means you need to order a book, order the book now. If it means you need to assemble ingredients, get them together and put the rest on a shopping list you will use today. If it means gathering materials on hand, gather them together and put them in a safe place. If this is a task that needs preparation, it may be that you will not do the task today. But you will have done the steps necessary to eventually get to that task by preparing today. And that’s just as important.
2. Execute the task. Once you have what you need, pick a time today (or on that day) to follow through. Make sure that time is uninterrupt-able. That means your laptop is closed, cell phone is on vibrate and your home phone is turned off. Don’t answer the door. It means no TV is on. Email your husband and tell him not to call you during that hour or two. Clear your kitchen table (or your yard or couch or car – wherever this thing is happening). Know that you have a dedicated block of time to do this task and that no other task will crowd it out.
3. Experience the task/event. Be there. Don’t allow your mind to run off to dinner or dentist appointments you forgot to schedule. Don’t resent sitting down and “wasting time” doing what your mind resists. Don’t jump up to change a laundry load because the timer dinged. Do listen, pay attention, dedicate your mind and heart to the moment at hand. Listen to your kids. Feed back to them what you hear. Participate. Become interested and fascinated with what you are doing. Live in this moment and no other.
4. Reminisce. The next hour, or meal, or day, or two days from now, remember this time you had with your kids.
“You know, I didn’t realize how often fractions are a part of my day until we spent those two hours on Monday playing with your cuisinaire rods.”
“I so enjoyed doing copywork with you on Tuesday. Want to read what I wrote? I want to read yours today.”
“Watching Much Ado About Nothing reminds me of when I was a kid and my mom took me to plays. What was your favorite part? Mine was…”
Focus on the experience by honoring it in your memories. Retell the story, relive it a few days later. It will stay anchored in your lives as a touchstone if it becomes worth of your investment, dedication and memory.
This is how you work through the list. Do it one thing at a time and only do the one thing when you know you will really devote yourself to it. Let me know how it goes.