Completing Tasks with a Toddler

I am really good at creating lists, and I’m really good at starting projects. Unfortunately, the most important task of actually completing the items on the list or finishing the project is where I struggle the most. It seems my intended project tasks take way longer than planned. At this point my mind starts playing tricks on me. Suddenly, I begin thinking about every other thing I should or could be doing instead of the task at hand.

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For example: Instead of organizing my desk, I could be folding laundry, taking the dog for a walk, playing with Cooper, napping, running errands--you know, both the fun activities and the tedious chores around the house. Now when I add in the growing list of work to-do’s--sending more emails, listening to more podcasts, writing more blogs, growing Be Better through networking-- my mind hits overload.  The problem with this never-ending list of unfinished projects is I can never reward myself with the sense of actually accomplishing something. The visual of unfinished projects scattered around the house leaves me with an overwhelming feeling of defeat.

So this week the #bebetter52 challenge to focus on 15-minute tasks satisfied my intense 37-week-pregnant desire to nest before baby arrives and acknowledge the little mini-accomplishments I completed throughout the day.

Completing Tasks with a Toddler

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Everyday I try to find creative ways to entertain and interact with Cooper. If I am in the right frame of mind, grocery shopping can be one of those ways. It involves slowing down, being patient, constantly talking and describing the different types of vegetables, fruits and foods I place in the cart.  Yes, it might take twice as long, but the experience is hundreds of times more pleasant for the two of us. So this week, I looked for other projects Cooper could help me with around the house, most of them taking 15 minutes or less, others longer.

Making Dinner: Especially now I am 37-weeks pregnant, cooking dinner is not something I put off most nights.  I am just not hungry, so I assume my husband isn’t either. Actually, I am amazed anyone can cook after 5 pm with a fussy toddler demanding attention.  This week though, I decided to carry Coop’s Ikea table into the kitchen, tie an apron around her chubby waist and involve her in dinner prep. Yes, it was twice as messy and took twice as long, but it was a hundred times more enjoyable than doing it alone. She learned the names of different grilled veggies while practicing to stir with a whisk.

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Folding laundry: Again twice as long and twice as messy, but eventually we get the job done. I bring the basket into her nursery while I fold. She folds and unfolds, puts the clothes into the basket and then takes them back out. Recently, I started asking her to put the clothes in the appropriate drawers. If her patience runs out, which normally happens 15 minutes in, I simply leave the task unfinished until I can come back to complete. Involving her in the responsibility felt satisfying for both of us. The time may come when my little helper will put up a fight in terms of chores, but for now, she loves the one-on-one interaction.

Sense of Accomplishment

As mentioned before, I needed this week’s  #bebetter52 challenge. I realized my follow- through attention span is not even 15 minutes, so for me to remain focused on a single activity for 15 minutes felt like a major accomplishment in itself. Many times at the end of the day, I would look at my unorganized work space and throw my hands up in the air. But then I told myself, just work on it for 15 minutes. Cooper was already in bed, so that 15 minutes of dread turned into 30 minutes of productivity. My desk is still not 100% organized, but it is getting there. Every time the 15 minutes was up, I took in a breath to positively acknowledge what I’d accomplished. We deserve these little moments during the day to reward ourselves for our successes rather than to denigrate ourselves by feeling overwhelmed with failures.