Friday, January 15, 2010


I have a new friend. It helps me order my days. It helps me keep on track. It helps me dust the bedrooms and sweep the floor.

Because of my new friend. . . The TV is clean. Our headboard shines. The piles of picture frames have moved from the kids' dresser to the basement. The basement is ready for the children of small group to descend on it. I feel like I accomplished something this week and I did so while having time to make faces at Simon and make cookies with Abigail and allow George time with us.

I know you are just dying to know who my new friend is. Well, I was going to take a picture, but it is really rather shy, or it hasn't helped me do a picture dump yet so there isn't room on my memory card. You can choose your favorite explanation.

Presenting. . .
My Kitchen Timer.

I think I spent six dollars on the thing when I was putting Abigail in time out. Sometimes she still goes to time out but because the microwave or the range have immobile timers I tend to use those more than the one that can wander. Because when a girl needs to go to time out a mom doesn't have time to search for a timer.

Anyway, I get distracted. I have been reading about homeschooling, particularly the Charlotte Mason approach to homeschooling. She talks alot about short lessons and teaching your children to pay careful attention for short stints and building on that. The idea is that a short lesson encourages giving something your full attention rather than having time to dwaddle while getting one's work done. I admit, I was chagrined when reading this for I realize I dwaddle. Who wouldn't check their email six times when one has the whole day to get the dusting done?

Then I was reminded of Minimum Maintenance by Rachel Anne at Home Sanctuary. It is a housekeeping method in which one spends five minutes in each room (except the kitchen which gets 15 minutes) each day. When the five minutes are up, the room is done and you move to the next area. I was skeptical. Really what could five minutes do?

But I was desperate, or in need of some real inspiration. Remember this. Again you can pick the version you prefer. Do you like this choose your own version posting? Perhaps I can do it again.

So, I got the timer out and set it for five minutes. Boy, was it ever difficult to stop at the five minutes, but I did. The rooms always looked better, never perfect, but always better after the five minutes. And, because Abigail is now required to pick up her clothes and toys daily, the five minutes actually adds up. I thought for sure we would create at least five minutes of work in each room each day, but we don't. OK in the kitchen we do create 15 minutes of work, but I think that may be because I don't really clean as I go. So this week, I got to play with the children, make good food, take care of the bills, and dust the whole house. I could have also swept and mopped, but we have friends coming over tonight and I am not mopping the kitchen floor and sweeping the bedrooms. The first because it will be undone when the first child spills a cookie and the second because I need to make the cookies to besmirch the floor and feed the friends.

This is so encouraging not just for the housekeeping part, but for the homeschooling part too. There is much that can be accomplished in a very short period of time when there isn't time allowed for distraction. And since every beep from the timer gives relief from the task, the need for wandering minds diminishes. Which should really help the beautiful little girl who has been known to say
Sorry, Mommy, I got stracted.
and maybe her mommy too.

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