Teen housekeeping

bike ramp 1Every day before I leave for work I produce a list of chores. It is in an easy-to-read, table format. Responsibilities are clearly assigned. And for the most part, the chores get done.

But there’s still a tortilla sitting on the arm of the couch in the TV room.

And there is the problem, in a nut shell. All that gets done is what I specify. And I forgot yesterday to add to the list, “Please pick up the tortilla in the basement TV room.”

A tortilla! Courtesy of the very same child who once accidentally lured a mouse into his bedroom by leaving a tortilla under his bed. They’ve learned nothing.

When I worked at home, I knew I was doing most of the heavy lifting when it came to housework, but I had no idea that I was single-handedly keeping chaos from my door. The evidence of our reduced housekeeping state is everywhere. The four-foot weeds in the yard and the cobwebs in the corners are bad enough. It’s that other stuff I can’t stand, like the gum underneath my cabinet counter. The silverware under the couch. And the vast expanse of laundry, everywhere but in the dirty-laundry depositories conveniently located in every room.

I keep holding out that one day my kids will wake up, realize they are pigs, and spontaneously scrub the kitchen floor. So far, nothing. The only person who has awakened to my plight is my extremely bored nanny, who helpfully empties the dishwasher every day and puts everything in the wrong place. Making dinner at my house is like a treasure hunt with a low payout.

I had a glimmer of hope yesterday. I returned home from work to discover that my youngest son and his friends had weeded the path at the side of the yard. It was pristine – not a weed in sight.

“Finally,” I thought, “Someone doing a chore just because it needs to be done!”

Turns out they weeded so they could build a bike jump. A gum wrapper on your rug is acceptable; a weed on the approach to the bike jump is not.

At least they have standards. I’ll take what I can get.

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Parent Your Biz goes back to work

AtoZ 2015

Last year, on a whim, I joined the 2014 A to Z Challenge and wrote the work-at-home alphabet to describe the ups and downs of working from a home office.

Oh, what a difference a year makes.

Recently, after a decade of self-employment, I’ve returned to the full-time workplace. My family and friends were largely supportive. My sister’s words capture the feeling best: “I’m somewhere between ‘Congrats’ and ‘You crazy fool’,” she said.

Yes, well.

Self-employment is definitely one of those “grass is greener” scenarios. Those who aren’t self-employed long for what they rightly perceive as the benefits – flexibility, autonomy, freedom to choose what to do and what not to do.

What they don’t see is the downside – the challenge of balancing weeks of more work than you can reasonably do with the weeks where even the sound of crickets would be a welcome change. The temptation to paint the bedroom instead of finishing that proposal. The snow days. The interruptions in income. The relentless business development. The loneliness.

It was the loneliness that finally got me.

With my kids aging out of the mommy league, and my decision a few years ago to focus my professional life on writing – a beloved, but solitary pursuit – I was spending way too much time staring at the walls. I needed peers. I needed a place to go every day. I needed to feel like part of a team. So I found myself a job.

But the transition back to work has had its challenges. During April, I’ll be cataloging my survival tips for working parents. Some are useful, and some are downright silly, but they work for me.

Oh, and if you have something to contribute (especially if it is later in the alphabet and/or starts with a problematic letter like X) feel free to comment.

See you April 1st.