In Spite of the Busy, Something Permanent Everyday

My day started at 5:30 this morning. I was on my way to work by 6:50, getting the kids from school at 4:00, eating dinner at 5:30, and baths and bed by 7:00. In between all of these major checkpoints, there was lunch packing and dish unloading and oatmeal making and face wiping and milk pouring and media negotiating. Today wasn’t anything special. Today was busy. Most days are.

I’m a bit routine obsessed. The only way I can get through one of my typical week days is by having a mental checklist, marking it off in my mind, making sure that every necessary thing is accomplished by the time I kiss my boys good night. I don’t really feel guilty about this. I’m not one of those people that can relax amidst the chaos. If there is a baby toy on the floor, it must be picked up.

This tendency of mine is mostly positive, helping my family navigate those rough seas without feeling like we are on a sinking ship. However, some days I realize I am losing perspective, saying not right now when I should be saying yes, absolutely, right this minute.

Let me be clear: I do not feel guilty about taking the time to do my daily chores. I believe in making my family a healthy dinner every night, and I believe everyone should be picking up after themselves before settling in for the evening. But all of these things that I spend time doing will be quickly undone in a very short amount of time. There will be crumbs on the floor; there will be another mountain of laundry.

So the question occurs to me, in the middle of all of these necessary and good tasks, what permanent thing did I do today for my children? What did I offer them that will stay forever, that will change the way they behave towards one another, that will–in a tiny or big way–help them become happier, more loving, and more lovable human beings?

Tonight we taught Wes to dance to Sam Cooke. Max modeled some sweet moves, and we all laughed when the baby tried his hardest to mimic them. It was a busy day. Our permanent moment was small. But through it, we hope we told our children that we love music and we love them and spending time dancing together can shake off the stress of a long day.

I suspect one of the reasons we love traveling with our children so much is that it takes us out of the daily grind and helps us focus on the big picture. When we are somewhere new and exciting, we don’t get bogged down in errands and to-do lists. All we do is wonder, what could we do today that will be fun and fabulous and will help shape our children in the years to come?

So tomorrow do the dishes and the laundry and vacuuming. And then do at least one thing that is fun and fabulous, even if it is just dancing to Sam Cooke before bed. The carpet will get dirty again, but the music will stay the same, settling somewhere deep inside of them and forming a soundtrack for their lives.

Good work, parents.

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