It Only Takes Time Management
Writer Author Janet Seever
- Fiction Yes
"My job as administrative assistant is really a challenge," I said to my sister, Sue, as I stirred my coffee. We were sitting at her kitchen table while she watched her children playing in the backyard.
"It offers me an opportunity to meet people, travel and stretch my mind," I continued. "Sue, I just don't know how you find motherhood all that fulfilling."
I guess that was the wrong thing to say from the way Sue glared at me. Sue is three years younger than I am, and we never did see eye to eye.
"There's plenty of challenge, Karen," she retorted. "I don't have time to be bored and I love my two children and my husband. I also enjoy my volunteer work one afternoon a week. Besides, I feel that God wants me to stay at home with my children. What's wrong with that?"
"Nothing. It's just that your mind is stagnating -- you're not being challenged intellectually. I think God wants you to use what He has given you. Have you ever considered taking a few university courses?"
One look at Sue told me she was totally unconvinced, but I plunged ahead anyway. "I greatly benefited from a time management course I took. It helps me to prioritize my work. I know where there is an all-day seminar that you could take."
"Sorry. I'm just not interested."
Just then four-year-old Joshua wandered into the room, dumping his bucket of plastic blocks at our feet. The red, green, yellow and blue blocks bounced in all directions. Two-year-old Caitlyn, close at his heels, snatched a yellow block from the floor.
"Mine," she said defiantly as a tug-of-war ensued. When it looked like she was going to lose her block, she bit Joshua's finger and he let out a howl.
Sue stepped in to separate them, soothed the hurt feelings and wiped away the tears.
Noting the basket of laundry in the corner waiting to be folded, dishes from breakfast stacked in the sink and the general disorder of the room, I tried again. "You really should consider that time management seminar. It would help you to be better organized."
If Sue heard me, she didn't acknowledge it.
One thing about Sue, she doesn't hold a grudge for long. A few weeks later the phone rang. "Karen, I know you sometimes have Tuesdays off," she said hesitantly. "I hate to ask you this, but I was sort of wondering if you could watch
Joshua and Caitlyn. An old girlfriend of mine from high school days is in town -- you remember Sherry Dresden, don't you?"
"Yes, I do remember Sherry," I answered with little enthusiasm, wondering how I could say no to her request. "How could I forget? She just about lived at our place."
"Sherry and I want to get together for lunch and then do some shopping -- mostly window shopping for me. Mrs. Herman, our babysitter, just had surgery, so that's why I'm asking you."
She paused, probably trying to evaluate my reaction. "Are you willing to do it?"
As I was mentally going through excuses, a plan popped into my head. "Yes, I'll do it," I said. What a great way to show her the value of time management and prioritization and prove my point!
I pictured myself with two spotless, contented cherubs, an organized household, and supper started by the time Sue returned from her afternoon jaunt with Sherry. She would gasp, "Karen, however did you do it?" to which I would nonchalantly reply, "I just used principles of time management I've learned over the years."
On Tuesday I arrived at precisely 11:30 a.m. as I said I would. As I parked my car in the driveway, I noted that the flower bed could use a little weeding too. Two children certainly didn't take up all of Sue's time.
In my purse I carried a time schedule I had carefully worked out for the day. I would make the whole day a profitable learning experience for the children.
Joshua and Caitlyn were already standing in the doorway as I arrived. I'm not particularly fond of children, but decided for once it wouldn't hurt me to play the role of doting aunt.
"Hi, Pumpkin," I said as I hugged Caitlyn.
"How are you doing, Joshua?" I asked as I gingerly reached down and gave him a hug, carefully dodging his chocolate-covered face.
"Careful. You'll squash Hammy," he squealed, squirming out of my grasp.
"Who is Hammy?" It was my turn to be concerned.
"Hammy is my hamster. See?" He retrieved a lump from inside his shirt and thrust the furry creature at me. "Want to hold him?" Fortunately, Sue came to my rescue. "Joshua, please put Hammy back into her cage. She'll get lost if you carry her around."
Already this had the prospect of being a long day.
After Sue left, I wiped Joshua's dirty face with a washcloth and got the children busily involved in play. I counted out half of the blocks for each to avoid any squabbles this time.
"I'll be making lunch soon," I told them. "Your mom left some spaghetti for you."
"I don't want s'ketti today. I want bread and jam and peanut butter," responded Joshua.
"I'm making spaghetti," I said matter-of-factly. I got out a pan from the cupboard and headed toward the stove, trying to remember what my psychology book said about dealing with situations like this.
"You can make it, but I won't eat it."
Some time later we were seated at the table. I was eating spaghetti and the children were eating bread with peanut butter and jam.
Caitlyn, looking like a blonde angel in her highchair, ran her hands across the bread and then through her hair. Blonde ringlets were now caked with peanut butter and jam. Peanut butter was streaked across her face as she grinned from ear to ear.
"Accident, Aunty Karen." Joshua, in maneuvering his bread to his mouth, had dropped it jam side down on the floor. Was it an accident? I wasn't sure.
After we finished eating, I scooped up Caitlyn and took her to the bathroom where I washed her hair, her hands and her face. A little soap and water did wonders.
I had just finished drying her with a towel when I heard Pickles, their Cocker Spaniel, yelping in the kitchen. I raced to the kitchen and discovered Joshua was doing his best to hold her down on the floor and give her a bath with half a bottle of dish detergent. Water from a shallow pan nearby was spread half way across the tile floor.
"Look, Aunty Karen. Pickles needed a bath." By that time both Pickles and Joshua needed a bath, and the floor needed mopping as well.
When I finished, I looked at my watch. Time certainly flies when you're having fun, I thought grimly. It was already 2 p.m. and the remains of our lunch were still on the table. We had already used up the time I had scheduled for music appreciation and a nature hike.
I turned my attention to the table. The dishes would have to stay in the sink until I got Caitlyn down for her nap. As I stacked the plates, I heard an ominous flushing sound from the bathroom.
"Oh-oh," said Caitlyn.
I already knew I was too late as I raced to the bathroom. There stood Caitlyn, with one dripping shoe and a pink plush rabbit which no longer looked so plush. What went down the toilet? I might never know. Fortunately she still had on her other shoe.
"Hammy is gone!" Joshua wailed from the corner of the kitchen where the cage stood empty.
"Did you latch the cage when you put Hammy back this morning?"
"Cai-tin flushed Hammy down the toilet."
"I'm sure she didn't do that. Caitlyn is too little to pick up a hamster." My attempts to console Joshua were futile, and he continued to sob.
For the next fifteen minutes we searched for Hammy, and finally found her cowering in a corner behind a large potted plant. I bravely put her back into her cage and made certain the latch was secure this time.
By now it really was naptime. With a sleepy Caitlyn under my arm, I headed to her bedroom, wishing Joshua would take an afternoon nap too.
"Can I build a castle with cans?" Joshua wanted to know, as he opened the kitchen cupboard. "Mama lets me do that."
"Fine. Don't let them fall on your fingers."
When I put Caitlyn into her crib, her eyes popped wide open. "Sing," she demanded. I realized this wasn't going to be as easy as I thought, and ran through my repertoire of lullabies which consisted of two songs sung over and over. Each time I stopped, she said, "Sing."
After Caitlyn finally drifted off to dreamland, I walked out to the kitchen to see Joshua's castle. I was not prepared for the sight which awaited me.
"Joshua!" I shrieked. A pile of shiny cans formed a clever castle. Crumpled labels were scattered all over the floor.
"Why did you take the labels off the cans?" I tried to make myself sound calm, but it was difficult.
He looked up at me with innocent blue eyes, tears beginning to glisten in the corners. "The castle looks pretty when it's shiny. Real castles don't have labels."
"How will your mother know what's in the cans?"
"This one is peas," he said, continuing to look up at me. "Listen." He shook the can so the peas rolled back and forth.
I hoped Sue had a good sense of humour and wondered what kind of interesting meals the family would have. I could see labels for chicken soup, asparagus, baked beans, peaches, rice pudding, peas, green beans and dog food strewn across the floor.
I put the naked cans back into the cupboard and led Joshua by the arm to the kitchen table. "Sit where I can see you," I commanded. "Here is your Bible story coloring book. Here are your crayons. Don't move until I tell you to move."
Joshua obeyed me without saying a word.
I got my purse, retrieved two aspirins and got myself a glass of water. Then I flopped down in a reclining chair and stared at the ceiling.
That was the state of affairs when I heard the door latch click at 4 p.m. and Sue breezed into the room.
"Getting out today did me a world of good! I'll have to do it more often. Maybe sometime when the children are older I should even consider taking a class or two."
Suddenly she stopped and looked around the room. Then she looked at me.
"You didn't have any trouble with Joshua and Caitlyn, did you?"
"They were no problem at all," I said, pushing a strand of unruly hair back of my ear and putting an artificial smile on my face. "No problem at all."
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