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?