Tuesday, November 16, 2010
The Five Minute Timer -- It Works!
As a young bride, I had visions of keeping a perfect home for my family. Naturally, my goals began in the kitchen. The smell of freshly baked bread would always pervade this sanctuary. The sink would be scoured on a regular basis, the floor would be so clean that a child could scoot and toddle without the slightest smudge appearing on the knees or (perfectly white) socks. Pies with golden crusts would emerge from a remarkably shiny oven, and I would greet my husband at the door each evening with a fresh smile, starched apron and a perfectly timed dinner.
(Excuse me for a moment -- I'm snickering at my blissfully ignorant young self right now.)
So anyway, that's what I envisioned. I quickly realized, however, that simply donning the apron would not do the trick. It involved work. Lots of it. My first indication that I was not cut out for the Perfect Homemaker Award was when I realized that I couldn't even stand to unload the dishwasher. I'd come out in the morning, see that fateful green light, and shrink back in horror. All those dishes. Waiting. Just waiting. And I'd quickly turn around and find something else to do. Eventually those dishes got unloaded, but certainly not in a timely fashion.
One day, it occurred to me that I should just buckle down and do it. After all, it probably wouldn't take a super long time. I glanced at the clock, opened the dishwasher door and went at it with a vengeance. After the last glass had disappeared behind the cupboard door, I looked again at the clock. Huh. It only took five minutes. I started to laugh at myself. Five minutes? I've been running away from a green light and it could have been conquered in five minutes?
That five minute dishwasher challenge changed my approach to housekeeping. I realized that it was silly for me to dread a five minute task. In fact, I actually started to enjoy unloading the dishwasher. To think -- dishes neatly tucked away in just a few minutes! What an accomplishment! I vividly remember thinking, "Wow -- I used to dread this, but now I kind of like it. Maybe that's partly how we mature. I wonder what kinds of tasks I'll be embracing when I'm all grown up!"
And it got me excited to think about how many other five minute tasks were out there to be tackled. So I started to pay attention to the clock. Changing the sheets? Five minutes. Scouring the sink? Five. Toilet? Yep -- five.
Sometimes I'd divide larger tasks into smaller five minute tasks to make them feel more manageable, too. Cleaning the entire bathroom takes some time, but when I remind myself that the toilet can be done in five, and likewise the sink, then it's not nearly so bad.
I haven't yet figured out how to make bread in five minutes (although the bread machine certainly cuts back on labor), and it will take a miracle for me to enjoy scrubbing the shower. But finding little ways to ease the load can make a mama's work that much more rewarding. What five minute task might you seize today?