And then this morning arrived. And, predictably, the house resembled a bomb site, the regular housework was way behind, and the kids just wanted me to sit on the floor and read to them all morning.
I considered my regular plan of action: Pick a room, and tidy it til it looks lovely. Excellent, one room down. Start on the next one. But the kids seem to realise that this process could take a while, so by this point they're usually clamouring for attention. Then I get annoyed with them for wanting me while I just want to get things done, and try to keep working. Unsurprisingly, their behaviour deteriorates, my frustration levels rise, and... you can guess what happens then.
Today, a slightly different tack.
I pick my first room, then set my trusty timer. Actually, it's my phone. 5 minutes. It's effective motivation - I tidy fast. The timer goes off, and things in that room are looking pretty good. The kids are happily playing, they'll do without me for another 5. Let's move on to the next room, and set the timer again. This room is BAD. My 5 minutes is over before I know it, and there's still a lot to do. But I know the perfectionist trap I'm about to get caught in, so I tell myself that I can come back later and move on.
Another 5 minutes and F is asking for a story. Having accomplished 3 rooms already, I'm fine with that. We read. And read. And SP joins the party, and we read some more. But that's ok, it was part of the plan.
And so we continue on. There's still sibling spats, and a time-out, more mess being created in the rooms I've just done, and a moment's annoyance when it comes to morning tea time and I haven't tidied the kitchen from breakfast yet.
A little later, I glance at the clock. It's 10am. The house looks reasonable. We're sitting on the upturned coffee table sailing to the beach for a plastic bread and pizza picnic. We've enjoyed each other's company and done a reasonable job of having everybody's needs met, conflicting as they may have seemed 3 hours ago.
Housework with little ones is a slow process, but today, I'm ok with that.
Now to maintain that attitude for the afternoon. The floor's overdue for a vacuum, the shower's getting slimy, dinner won't cook itself... Here we go again...