Present in the Mundane

“Try to get me mama!” my four year old yells as he runs through the clean clothes piled all over the bedroom floor. Balled socks are his favorite, but he’s happy to avoid any projectile I throw into the sorting piles.

Making laundry into an obstacle course wasn’t a conscious decision, but it sure has made things more fun. It started simply. I was trying to get my son to help me sort. He used to love it. It was one of those things, early on, that helped him feel confident and capable. He was big. He could recognize which clothes belonged to which family member. But that was a couple of years ago. The novelty has long since worn off.

I would have been happy with him just staying in the same room and not knocking over the folded towels, maybe telling me a story or soliciting me to tell him one. But as I sat in the center of the mounds and threw a pair of sweatpants into one pile and a wash cloth into another, Cavanaugh started running through.

Sorting turns much more interesting with a wildly giggling child running through the towels, his clothes, my clothes, and the cloth napkins. It takes a little longer this way and it’s a lot noisier but sorting and putting away the clothes has somehow turned into quality time for us.

One of the things about being divorced is that there’s not another parent here to play with while the other one does the repetitive, time-consuming, and not so fun tasks. Finding a way that Cavanaugh and I can make a game of out the mundane household tasks means it doesn’t have to be work for either one of us.

Grocery shopping has gotten a lot more fun lately too. Since he’s still small enough to sit in the shopping cart, he’s at perfect eye level with me as we navigate the aisles. We play kissing games where he says, “Try to kiss me Mama!” then darts his head to the other side as I try to kiss him. If I manage to land a smooch on his cheeks, he wipes off my kiss and I say, “Oh man,” in utter disappointment. Hilarious.

Even helping him put on a shirt has turned into play. I look through the neck hole when I hold it up for him to put his head through. Why is this funny? He’d have to tell you. The thing all of these games have in common though is that we’re just being present with one another. We look into each other’s eyes. Crossing things off my to-do list has never been so much fun.

What’s your favorite or least favorite chore to try to get done when you’re with your kids? Why?

Author: Sonya Feher

Sonya Fehér is mama to Cavanaugh True. She is the leader of the S. Austin chapter of API and is a professional organizer with spaceWise Organizing where she helps individuals and families create space for how they want to live.

8 thoughts on “Present in the Mundane”

  1. Lol at “I would have been happy with him just staying in the same room and not knocking over the folded towels.” Sounds like my life.

    My son recently turned three, and that means that most things still take longer when I have his ‘help’. The ones I am enjoying more with him are
    1) sorting laundry (which mostly involves dumping dirty clothes on his head)
    2) grocery shopping (lots of opportunity to talk or not talk, with him happily contained in the grocery cart)
    3) making snacks, like brownies or pudding. My little guy is a big fan of the dump ‘n stir recipes.
    Other things that are fun, but not really chores, are library visits and building train tracks.

    Least favourite? Definitely anything involving the computer. He has his own agenda for my attention, not to mention the use of the mouse and keyboard… 😉

    1. I parallel your enjoyments. My fave is shopping (after having the cart war now that she wants to walk around the store). My partner’s is cooking and baking together, especially pancakes and waffles. 3 year olds are great fun.

  2. Cute! I’m home alone the majority of the days/evenings with my 15 month old daughter. We love to do all those little things to – although for right now it still is a novelty to her.

    What a great reminder to live in the present.

  3. Because all of our cleaning supplies are vinegar, water, and baking soda, my daughter takes a very active role. She will ask me out of the blue if she can clean something, and she goes under the sink and gets out the spray bottle and a cloth and cleans the front of the cabinets, the dishwasher, the fridge…she longs for the day when she is bigger and she can take it to the next level and clean the windows (I won’t let her do those by herself yet as I like to get them a little more streak-free than her 2 1/2 year old fine motor will let her).

    1. Our daughter has just in the past two weeks found a love of washing dishes. This is bittersweet. Sweet because of the obvious interest in doing a task not noticed before and in helping the family. Bitter because we don’t use plastic anything and floors are tile, and I worry about her fine motor skills in keeping the glass from sliding off the counter in her excitement. Any thoughts?

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