When I worked outside the home, I could recall what I did during the course of the day. I calculated how productive I was by how many therapy sessions I led or how many tasks I accomplished. At the end of the day, I could remember most of the details from that day.
Now? Now I’m a stay-at home mom and my days look incredibly different. At the end of the day, I can’t rattle off tasks I accomplished or really even remember all that occurred. I mean I know I did stuff because I was busy, but ask me exactly what I did and some days, I got nothing. There are certainly the defaults I can always depend on: grocery store because that’s my second home and carpool because picking up your kids is the responsible thing to do. But it’s the in between that gets me.
I know I do tons of laundry and cleaning, but surely that’s not ALL I do, right? So, I decided to do some evaluation of my day. Not real evaluation that followed any scientific method … sorry college professors. I’m going straight to collecting data without an ounce of preparation. I decided to record activities I participated in — notice I didn’t say completed — and how many times I did them. It was very formal, with scribbled post-its stuck to my cabinets as a data collection stations.
So on a very average Tuesday, I started collecting data.
Let me preface this with the fact that I have five children and two dogs.
Here is what the data showed:
Laundry loads – 2
Going to a store – 3 times (and yes, one was a grocery store)
Prepare a meal/snack – 8
Wipe countertops/highchair/table/appliances – 12
Change a diaper/help with potty – 7
Take/pickup Kids (school & activities) – 6
Sweep/vacuum/mop – 5 (this is why I mentioned the two dogs)
The results shocked me.
No wonder I feel like I’m always in the kitchen! And I either have the cleanest or dirtiest counter tops and floors at the rate I’m cleaning them. Of course, this was an average day and per the law of averages, some days will be more or less than this amount.
After observing how many times I do the same tasks over and over, I now see why I can feel less than productive and unable to recall the activities of the day. Here’s the thing — the mundane, monotonous tasks are where we land often times as moms. The fact is these things are necessary to run a household. These are acts of service that we do daily that we don’t give much thought to. These are the tasks that are never applauded or thought highly of, but when they aren’t executed, everything unravels.
But you know what else happens when we are performing the mundane? We are being refined.
These simple tasks are growing our patience (seriously I wiped down counter tops 12 times in one day). These tasks are stretching us to find contentment among the tedious days. They are teaching us to see the beauty in the simple things. These tasks allow us to show appreciation and good stewardship of the life we’ve been given. We lay down our lives for the children entrusted to us. We are demonstrating a servant’s heart and commitment for our family.
So, if you ask me to name all the things I accomplished or completed during the course of my day, I’m not sure I will be able to answer. Well at least not with the answers you think. However, I can tell you I was busy and productive with the time given. I can tell you I was flexible with my personal plans in order to meet the needs of others in my family. I can tell you I messed up, missed things and did other things really well. And I can tell you I was challenged and put in a full day as I raised the next generation.
Even knowing all of this, some days are still excruciatingly hard. Those are the days that I have to sharpen my focus to become a laser pointer to eternity, to who I am and who these children are. It is important to see the value of what I’m doing for generations to come, and see the big picture of raising up little ones who someday won’t be so little. I have to understand that my current world isn’t necessarily measured by productivity, but instead by the hearts of the kids I’m shaping.