Not my kitchen. (Photograph by Gnangarra...commons.wikimedia.org)
Day 5 word count: 8,371
Friday’s my “mad-dash, lick-and-a-promise housecleaning” day. The goal is to spend one hour just rushing through the house, vacuuming and mopping and putting stuff away (not necessarily in that order). It’s a variation of FlyLady‘s “Weekly Home Blessing Hour.”
Some weeks, it goes great. the kids cooperate (and sometimes even help), and by the time we leave for gymnastics, I’ve got the house so that every third step isn’t accompanied by a cry of pain and/or the snap of a toy or plastic utensil, and if I walk across the kitchen in my bare feet I don’t end up with a coating of crumbs and dirt and sticky mystery items on the soles of my feet.
Most cleanup days, however, are like today. It took me nearly an hour just to get the kitchen floor swept and mopped. As I picked up toys, my son threw them on the floor. When I got out my broom, my son asked for his. I thought, Oh, that will be cute and it will keep him busy while I’m trying to sweep.
Not so much. As I swept the dirt into a pile, he used his little broom to redistribute the dirt across the floor.
Having learned from previous weeks, I didn’t get out the bucket for the mop water but instead just put the mop water in one side of the sink (after putting away the clean dishes from the drainer on the counter, another lesson learned from past weeks). My son danced with excitement when he saw the mop. When he realized he wasn’t going to get to mop, he dissolved into tears. I handed him a towel and asked him to wipe up the floor, which occupied him for about 17 seconds. Then he went into the dining room and started coloring on the picture of Wonder Red (from Super WHY!) that my daughter was working on.
To calm the resultant screaming, I resituated both of the children at the kitchen table, my son strapped into his high chair with some crayons and a piece of paper. Every few seconds, he would grunt to get my attention then sign “fish” and point at the scribbles he’d made on the page. This was my cue to say, “You drew a fish! Wow! Look at that! It’s a green fish! What else are you going to draw?”
In the meantime, my daughter showed me why sometimes I just need a straight-up coloring book rather than an “activity” book. She asked me to read the directions on each page and then to help her through the activities. As a homeschooling mom, I am aware that this is a primary part of my job description. I just don’t understand why she has no interest in doing it until I’m engaged in another activity.
Finally I got the kitchen mopped. I probably should have just been content with the progress I’d made and left it at that. But with the mop water still warm, I wanted to mop the bathroom. Somehow that turned into sorting through clothes to figure out what was dirty and what was clean, wiping down the sink and toilet while my son used the toilet brush to spread soapy toilet water on the bathroom floor, and picking up everything that was on my bedroom floor in preparation for vacuuming.
In the end, I did get the bathroom wiped and mopped before we left for gymnastics, and we walked into the gym just as the two other little girls in her class were starting their warm-ups.
20 minutes of walking my son around the neighborhood during the class yielded a 30-minute nap in the stroller, during which I got to clean out the diaper bag, another of my Friday tasks. And because the baby wasn’t asleep when we left for home, I was able to stop at the car wash. (The last time I tried it, he was asleep when we entered the car wash but awake and crying when we exited it.) I even got to vacuum the interior of the car with the free-vacuums-with-car-wash.
After lunch, the baby refused to fall asleep, so I gave up and instead recruited his “help” in vacuuming the bedroom and the living room. We were halfway through when the babysitter arrived. It took me 30 minutes to leave the house, and I didn’t have high hopes for getting the exercise and writing done that I wanted to.
At the gym, I did 40 minutes on the treadmill at a comfortable 10-minute-mile pace. Then did a few sets on the weights and headed to the locker room. I showered and got dressed in my street clothes again. It’s interesting that I’m at a time in my life when I find bathing in a public shower to be a luxury simply because my children aren’t in there with me. I even put some “product” in my hair to optimize the curl.
By the time I made it to the coffee shop with my laptop, it was 4:30. The babysitter needed to leave a little after 5, so that gave me 30 minutes to write as much as I could. I considered scrapping the writing and just heading home with plans to write after dinner, as I’ve been doing for the past three days, but I soldiered on. I figured I’d get 500 words in and then have that much less to write in the evening. I’ve even heard some people recommend shorter writing sessions to make the most of the high-energy creative juices before fatigue sets in.
With that attitude in place, I sat down and just wrote without thinking too much. At 4:53 I checked my word count. It was 8,300-something. I was surprised. I had calculated the total I needed for today to keep at my 1,667-words daily average at 8,335. I must have made a mistake. I couldn’t possibly have written that much in just a half hour. I checked my math and sure enough, I was within 30 words of meeting my goal. I kept on chugging and when 5:00 arrived, I was at 8,371 words. I had run, I had written, and I’d met my goal. And I’m pretty sure I’d experienced “flow” during my writing session. I went home feeling awesome.
At home, I nursed the baby while I chatted with my husband about economic progressivism and watched our daughter do tricks on the sofa and coffee table. Then we made homemade pizza and homemade ice cream and listened to Pearl Jam (my daughter said, “This is my favorite music!” and my son danced around smiling).
I love it when things just kind of come together. And now I have my whole evening free to read, read, read!
Another night I’ll need to write about this odd period of my life right now in which stories about animals attacking people are part of my daily experience. Please remind me if I forget.