Projects, Parenting & Spray Bottles, Part One

ZOELAB DAY 88 

Date of Original Post: November 27, 2012

I used to think that it was impossible to get anything done while parenting. I guess that’s because it used to be impossible to get anything done while parenting. But, things have changed. Now that Emilio is three years old, and has expanded his attention span and developed a lovely imagination, we can work on projects together that we both enjoy. Painting with watercolors is currently the main activity in our lives that we both equally love. (Some of my watercolor illustrations this month were done while I was painting with Emilio). It’s relatively messy, but not compared to poster paint or finger painting, or even baking. It’s an art form that has the added element of water play, a beloved activity for many children. Emilio loves water play and will spend long amounts of time squirting a spray bottle filled with water. That just gave me an idea! I can put up large pieces of butcher paper on the walls outside, fill a spray bottle with watercolor paint, and he can make watercolorsquirt paintings. I can’t wait to try this tomorrow! Anyway, I suppose all kids projects are messy, especially for this mother and this kid. Every time Emilio “plays toys,” in a manner of minutes, Emilio’s toys are spread all over the living room floor. Many of his toys end up in the kitchen, under the couch and under the bed. This is partly because we live in a one-room house (plus attached bodega), but partly because Emilio is Señor Rough-on-stuff. I can’t blame him, as I, in my own way, am pretty careless with our objects as well. 

My goal lately has been to become more efficient with my planning and time so that I can truly have the time I need to complete all the projects I’m dedicated to—creating for ZOELAB, planning workshops for Art For Life, sewing for Seis Doce, planning my tv show, playing music again, wedding planning, organizing our home, planting our garden, while at the same time staying present and relaxed and having fun. A tall order for sure. With the exception of my one day a week job, I am a mostly stay-at-home mom who lives with a part-time working dad, and a not yet school aged kid, in a not-so-finished off the grid house in the desert, so I need to balance all these projects with family life, pre-Victorian household chores and parenting. In my attempt to look somewhat objectively at my life, so that I can find ways to become more organized and efficient with my time, I have come up with a system of categorizing my daily at home activities: those I can do while parenting with full attention, those I can do while parenting with partial attention, those I can do when Emilio is not around, and those I can do when no one’s around. 

Activities that can be completed while parenting with either full or partial attention

Dishwashing

I have decided that dishwashing should no longer be an after Emilio goes to bed activity, or an activity I do when I have some time alone. That’s just a waste of my alone time. Dishwashing should be done while Emilio is playing, or with Emilio. After years of being torn between Emilio and the dishes (an easy contest in Emilio’s favor), I am now astonished that Emilio asks to wash dishes with me. It’s become a fun activity to do together. I separate all unbreakable dishes for him to wash with his own pot of soapy water and he is so happy to make bubbles and use the sponge for almost the entire time of dishwashing. (Though I do have to step inwith some occasional damage control as he loves to splash water all over everything.) In my attempts to make dishwashing more appealing and doable for me, and to inspire me to keep the kitchen cleanliness at a higher level, I have come up with two key times a day to do the dishes: once in the morning, right after breakfast, while the day is fresh, and once in the evening, right before dinner. From the efficiency point of view (thinking specifically about how much time is spent washing dishes) No matter when I do dishes, I am going to spend the same amount of time doing dishes, so if I have to dishes anyway, doesn’t it make sense for me to wash them more often, in smaller doses so that I can enjoy looking at a clean kitchen, rather than saving the dishwashing until our entire is sink is filled with dishes and it’s so overwhelming that it makes me (or anyone who enters the kitchen) avoid it even longer. Additionally, I realized I really detest doing dishes after dinner, and this way I don’t have to, I can wash them when I have more energy and there’s more light. Now when Emilio asks for me to read to him or play with him after breakfast I can say “after I’m done with the dishes,” and that really means in only 15 minutes as opposed to the hour that it would take me to wash the terrifying pile of dishes in our sink that has been accumulating all week. Of course, I realize if one is to have success at dishes upkeep, one must absolutely start from a completely clean kitchen otherwise one might lose hope fast. Returning home to a thoroughly cleaned kitchen after our trip helped give me the boost I needed to turn over a new leaf.

To be continued...