Unlike children, we adults have the privilege of setting and enforcing our own household rules for ourselves. We can write our own chore list, and we can do it or not. As I’m still in need of strict and structured discipline, I fabricate methods to accomplish my own goals, from the basic (keeping myself from getting on file at Child Protective Services for sanitation reasons) to the more ambitious (unequivocal self-mastery).
Some tactics discussed on this site, like the habits of the mean broom, dinner’s not over until the kitchen is clean, and the self-propelling Sunday chore chart meetings, I’m finding are really working.
After a vacation, the flu, and some family excitement, I looked around and realized the house was a mess. I remembered that I read on a website somewhere that kids should do chores, and then I remembered it was my website, and I went to find out what I said. (I have a short-term memory problem that is amusing and tragic.) I reinstituted the patterns swiftly and surprisingly painlessly–the kids complained less than I remembered them doing before all the upheaval. Things are well on their way back to tamed chaos.
But my chores weren’t getting done. And I have no respect for the authority figure (me) and am full of sass when confronted with jobs. You can guess the culprit (besides sheer laziness)–it’s the dumb computer. It has become clear that my lack of discipline regarding when and how long I use the computer is the main obstacle between me and achieving all my hopes and dreams in life.
This is new to no one. There are endless sites helplessly bemoaning the ignoring of children and household chores to email, blog, read and shop. If you have a question, for example, about Neustria, because you have some ancestor there in the 9th century and you need to know right now where it was and why it had that weird name and why it eventually was named France instead, you can drop everything and find out. Now. That is the coolest thing ever.
The computer dings and I run over to it like a salivating dog–Will it be a funny, irreverent forwarded email (or more likely a not-funny or sentimental one, or one that assumes my political leanings are just about the opposite of what they really are)? Maybe it will be a coupon from Enterprise car rental? Is it time for my daily love letter from Barack who always ends his sweet notes with trying to bum my money like a bad boyfriend?
You know the drill. Then there’s some link in there that’s interesting which reminds you of that other thing you’ve been meaning to look at and then you find yourself reading about a long lost medieval country on Wikipedia.
So it’s time to lay down the law and make some guidelines.
If I’m honest with myself, I need to make sure my work is done before getting on the computer, and although I’d like that to mean just my chores, I’ve also tried to put parenting on my list of things to do. I have too many kids to have real down time during the day. So that means no computer until all kids are asleep, which also happens to be spouse time. Still, I’m going to make and follow this rule for one week, no computer before the kids are in bed, and I’ll let you know how it goes.
My hypothesis is that my motivation to hang out with my beau will quickly decide for me how important all those emails are, and perhaps benefit you with less long-winded posts, too. I end with a favorite quote (although I always find it heart-pricking) written by John Wesley’s mother. She said:
“Take this rule: whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God or takes off your relish of spiritual things; in short, whatever increases the strength and authority of your body over your mind, that thing is sin to you, however innocent it may be in itself.”
— Susanna Wesley (Letter, June 8, 1725)
I consider my reason officially weakened, so it’s off with the daytime email. Wish me luck!