Sunday, May 07, 2006

A day without screens

I spent the day entirely off-screen (mostly). There was a bit of George Stephanopolis watching while folding laundry. One thing I realize when I have days like this and throw myself into household management is that this household management thing is hard work. The day began at 9:00 a.m. and didn't end until 9 p.m. A 12 hour day. I suspect that's typical of most at-home parents with perhaps some late-night duty as well.

The thing with managing the house is that it's never done. I can look in any room and name 3 things that need to be done, many of them major projects. And of course, there's the daily crap like laundry, dishes, and cooking. Never ending.

In my GTD system, Home is a major category under which are many projects, two of them are the kids. Raising kids is a major project and the most difficult one you'll ever do. Sure, household management is long and tedious, but you aren't usually confronted with anything more difficult that a nasty-looking stain. With the kids, there are bigger issues. Constant worry. Lots of stuff you can't quantify and put in your GTD system. Like, happiness, well-being, intelligence. Am I doing enough to support those? And what tasks would I put on my list to ensure that these things happen? I don't think "Make kids happy" is going to cut it. And, of course, that's the rub.

The thing is, I sometimes see people far too caught up in household management with its never-ending but nevertheless discrete tasks. Maybe this is what bugs me about Caitlin Flanagan? (I say without having read much of her work.) I see that sometimes the two are connected. It's certainly easier to deal with larger emotional issues when you're not fight back a pile of laundry the size of Mt. Kilimanjaro, but maintaining that balance seems important to me somehow. And working out of the home definitely throws that balance off most of the time. Unless you have the perfectly balanced partnership where your spouse or partner fills in the gap. I've never met one of these, though most I know are close to this ideal. Their houses tend to be a bit on the messy side.