I used to sit at my desk at work and wish I could be home washing dishes. I kind of like washing dishes, and doing laundry, and making dinner. Plus I hated coming home to a messy kitchen. If I just had time during the day to clean! Instead I was filling out paperwork that would just have to be done again next year, if not sooner. I wish I could accomplish something, I thought. If you wash a dish, you can see what you did. You have a clean dish! All I have is piles of papers.


I babysat my niece last week. Mostly while my sister and brother-in-law were at work, but they live an hour away so she’s also stayed overnight a couple times to save on driving.

That’s how I woke up Tuesday morning with four kids in my house. Or rather, I woke up three times with four kids in my house. The baby was up at 5:30, back down at 6. Paul woke up at 6:30 and crawled into my bed to roll around and use my hair as a blankie. (Thomas was already at work.) The girls – my niece and Margaret – got up at 7:30.

Everyone was fed, dressed, and in the car by 8:30 to go to school. Once there, all five of us trooped in to make sure Margaret’s coat was in her classroom, since she’d forgotten it at school the day before. Then we took Paul to preschool.

Afterwards, I fed the baby in the car, then went to the post office to meet Thomas and apply for Eleanor’s passport. Predictably, they couldn’t help us that day, so we had to go back the next.

Thomas went back to work and I quickly fed the baby before picking up Paul. Then we came home and I made lunch.

For the rest of the afternoon I did two loads of laundry, washed a sinkful of dishes, ran the dishwasher, made dinner, handed out snacks, changed diapers, picked up Margaret from school, made after-school snacks, packed up my niece’s stuff, drove her a half hour away to meet my brother-in-law halfway between our house and theirs, drove home, waved goodbye to Thomas as he went to Bible study, played with kids, changed more diapers, gave more snacks, put the baby to bed, waved goodbye to Thomas again as he pulled in the driveway and I pulled out on my way to Zumba, danced and sweated for an hour, came home, took a shower, sat down…

…and thought, that’s a bummer. I didn’t accomplish anything today.


Somewhere along the line, washing dishes and making dinner became my new pushing papers. Something I don’t necessarily mind, and often enjoy, but that doesn’t feel like an accomplishment. It just has to be redone anyway. The dinner gets eaten, the dishes re-dirtied, the paperwork out of date.

I’m not sure what I want, exactly, to show for my day, but it seems I always want more. Or different, at least. Something other than the same-old to make the day stand out in my mind.

It wasn’t so much the dish washing that appealed to me back in the day – it was the thought of stealing time from one activity to accomplish another. Or, I suppose, the feeling of getting work (housework, in that case) done in a time slot marked for something else, freeing up a later time slot for anything I want.

I think this is also the main cause of my chronic lateness. I’m always trying to squeeze tasks into slots of time when I should be doing something else (or driving to someplace else). But if I can manage to ‘steal’ that time, I’ll have some open time later…or so I hope.


Tips – Donating unusable clothes, avoiding baggage fees, and everybody’s favorite…baby poop

Did you know you can still donate non-saleable clothes to Goodwill? They recycle them! I keep a box in the basement and if I have, say, a sock with a hole I throw it in there. (Or perhaps maternity pants that split in two while I’m wearing them.) Every so often I bag it all, mark it recycling, and take it to Goodwill. Mine actually has a big box right inside the drop-off area for clothes they can’t sell. I was told they get ground into insulation for houses.

What’s cheaper than checking a bag on a flight? FLAT RATE SHIPPING. This past weekend I was at a conference and severely underestimated the space I’d need in my suitcase for swag (free Webkinz! Free casserole dish insulator!) so I went on over to the post office, shoved a bunch of it in a box, and mailed it to myself. At $25-50 for a checked bag, I don’t think I would have kept the ‘free’ stuff, but it was worth $12 shipping to me. I’ve done this on vacations, too, even mailing myself a box full of just dirty clothes so I had less to schlep around.

Do you have baby poop in your house? You need Oxy Clean. Fill a sink (or utility tub if you have one of those, you lucky duck) with hot, hot water and a scoop of Oxy Clean and the poop will be gone by tomorrow. If you have three kids, you might as well go out and buy an industrial sized tub of Oxy Clean from Costco. You’ll use it. Last week it even made a towel used to mop up a full glass’s worth of spilled red wine look like new. To tell the truth, I was a little disappointed, if impressed, by that one. It was a kitchen towel we got at our wedding, 7.5 years ago now, and I wouldn’t be opposed to buying all new ones…

What tips do you have for me?