I like to get things done.

I look at the overwhelming stacks of papers and childrens’ school work and endless things to schedule staring at me from my desk and feel that I can’t function ’til it’s gone.

I brace myself and bulldoze my way through piles of laundry.

I zoom to and from lessons late and frustrated and imagine the day when things are calm and peaceful.

As soon as I get through preparing for this lesson or hosting this event or making this meal or cleaning out this closet…

…then I’ll be happy. Then I’ll have time to skip off into the sunset enjoying my family.

But you know what? Life doesn’t work like that. Things are never going to be “done.” I’ll never be all the way caught up. Sure, I can get more organized (which I’m working on right now and which is so liberating…more on that later). But even after my big house clean-out-mind-organization mumbo jumbo there will still be another deadline. Papers will invade our house to be filed and replied to. Fingernails will still need to be clipped. The toilets will still need scrubbing. All my children will still try to talk to me at the same time, and there will still be forty-five things pulling me in every direction.

I’ve been thinking so much about a quote someone brought up at Time Out for Women last month. They said we should “enjoy to the end” rather than just “endure to the end” (I think President Hinckley was the one who came up with that one). Life is meant to be enjoyed, not just bulldozed through which I’ve been guilty of lately. I’ve got to slow down enough to give that to myself and to my family. That comes with noticing the beauty of the moments like at Family Fun Night last week, but it also involves something more.

Since we will always have that list of to-dos, we can’t shut our family off with our blinders on until we get it done or we’ll never see our families. We must bring our families into that to-do list with us. If I stop to think about the times I’ve enjoyed family life the very most I realize that it is for sure when my kids (and husband) have been at my side “in” my to-do list. Things as complex as a huge service project or a photo shoot to things as simple as making dinner, emptying the dishwasher or cleaning out the toy closet. I don’t think any of us would classify our saturday jobs as “fun” but I’ve got to admit, those jobs have made for some great memories. When we’re working together good topics come up. Questions my kids have been wondering about come out. Deep discussions often ensue. And the warmth that togetherness brings becomes almost tangeable.

Sure it’s much easier to do so many tasks alone. Even the thought of figuring out how to incorporate my family into some tasks is daunting. Let’s be honest, moping the kitchen floor has never been an easy thing with a toddler clinging to your leg and keeping my kids attention for long enough to paint the garage together this summer (in my dreams…Dave, stop rolling your eyes), and teaching them to do their own laundry (I obviously have big summer plans) is going to take some creativity. But kids know how to do things we often don’t give them credit for or let them do. Lu is a master at emptying the silverware from the dishwasher and she gleams with pride when we take the time let her do it. (Her older siblings gleam with pride watching/helping her too.)

So, I’m up for the task of involving my kids more. Because I want to enjoy the journey a little more with my family at my side. There’s a great article about this here that made me think so much more about this. I’d love to hear how others get kids involved in the day-to-day tasks of life. (I know from experience that the answer is not just saying, “hey kids, come help with this.”…no, I must be much more creative than that.) Please share if you have any great ideas!

I’m off to bake bread with Lucy instead of waiting ’til she’s tucked safely out of the way (it’s a half day so no school for her today).

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  1. What a wonderful post! I constantly have to remind myself that I want to thrive, and not just survive this life. And part of that means finding pleasure in my family, instead of just coexisting with them. I can't wait to read all of the great suggestions on your post! 🙂

  2. We can't do everything.

    A quote I live by is:

    Select what you're going to Neglect,
    So that you don't
    Neglect what you Select.

    It's hard to do though.

    BTW, 48 hours til baby-time! YAY!!!

  3. My kids are still very young, so it's difficult to get them involved too! My cousin has older kids and has had them doing their own laundry (including bath towels – each child has their own color so there won't be confusion) since first grade. They have a table set up in the laundry room. Each child has a specific laundry day. After school on their day, they do their laundry and sit at the table doing homework, coloring, reading, etc. while it's going. I'm hoping to be able to start this with my kids when they are school age!

  4. I love your blog! All my girls are grown my baby just finished her freshman year out at BYUI. I always worked full time outside of the house so to keep my sanity we all worked together and you are right sometimes it was easier to do it by myself but in the long run it was wonderful to have all the girls know how to help around the house. Here are somethings that made my life easier.
    1. All the girls made their own lunch from 1st grade on. And they did it the night before.
    2. Everyone had their own laundry day and the washer and dryer had to be cleaned out at the end of the day. If you needed to wash on another day you had to work that out with the sister who's day it was. (Dad and I got the Fri. and Sat.)
    3. Everyone had their own color of towels – to eliminate whose towel got left on the floor, door etc. and running out of clean towels.
    4. Silly but when they were little they thought it was cool to each have their own yard rake that they decorated (so girly) to rake all the leaves with.
    5. When we had big projects like painting a room or cleaning the basement everyone no exceptions had to help, it also helped us know what talents each of the girls had. This was great when they were older and we could assign each a room to paint or whatever.
    6. Sometimes we would declare it a divide and conquer day which meant 2 girls went with Dad 2 with Mom and we did what needed to get done inside and outside so we could do something together in the evening.
    7. After years of helping in the kitchen the girls each got a night to cook dinner as they got older.

    As you know all good things take awhile to develop but it really is worth it in the end. Pick one thing at a time help the children get good at it and feel good about doing it (sometimes just settle for the 1st part)then let it go. And know that it's o.k. not to do it our way hey I usually learned new ways to do things when I watched the girls.
    Enjoy the moments!

  5. Love this post! Recently, in Conference, I think, someone said that we are "not just to endure, but to endure WELL." That really struck me, because, like most moms, I think, I tend to get caught up in all of the chores of living, and miss the good stuff.
    Hey, question for you:
    A while back, in this post,
    you had offered to have any of the Temple pics put onto canvas. I can't afford that, but wondered if I might be able to just get a high-resolution copy of the one with the colored tree out front? It is EXACTLY what I want over my fireplace, and I could just have it blown up big and framed. I'd be happy to pay you for it.
    By the way, my Vision Walk in this Saturday, and I think we'll be walking in the rain!

  6. Great topic! This is something I struggle with each day.

    My kids are finally all school age now and over the years we have really focused on including them in the daily chores/activities that are a huge part of our household.

    I grew up with a mom who was amazing at including us in whatever she was occupied with- and she was always busy doing something. She never said no. Or just give me a minute to get us out of her hair. She would simply have us scoot over a chair or don an apron and let us work beside her.

    I'm not quite as good as it as she is, but I do make it a point to teach and enjoy my kids while we do the dishes, weed the yard, or whatever is next on the list.

    So far so good with my older three girls (even though number two is a major work avoider) but, I'm still plugging along with my son who would rather have us wait on him hand and foot than pitch in with whatever needs to get done. But, I have hope!

  7. Love reading your blog! I have 5 kids also (with 1 on the way) & know how hard it is to be pulled is so many different directions. I've found something that works great for us & thought it might help you, too. If it's OK, I'm emailing it to you (saw your email on the RSS feed) 'cause it'll probably be long. Good luck & don't give up!

  8. I find it hard to include my kids as well. I love to do this with just ONE kid, but I get too frazzled trying to do things with all 4 helping. We try to take turns doing things (the kids love to chop veggies for some reason, I guess because I actually let them use a real knife (all but my 4 year old, she's a bit young yet)), but I still feel like I often send them away rather than include…
    One thing we do that works: the kids fold their laundry and I read them whatever book we are in the middle of while they fold and put away.

  9. thanks for the encouragement! I often feel like the household chores are piling up faster than I can keep up with them. My babies are just toddlers, so it will be awhile before they can really "help", but they do love being a part of my work and I think including them fosters a sense of belonging and value as part of our family.
    anyway, thanks for the great post!

  10. Any time I try to bake anything, the kids all pull up a chair to the counter and help pour the ingredients in the bowl. (and of course lick the spoons etc) It takes much longer, but they love it.
    I read somewhere to never clean alone or when the kids are in bed. Otherwise they think there's a cleaning fairy. So I try to have them help with something.

  11. Hi Shawni! I'm excited about all your summer goals. I think it's great to be ambitious, and I love the comments shared on this post. You've got such helpful children–I'm sure this will be no problem for you. There are so many ways to help our children learn to love work. I discovered today that my toddler cries only 1/4 as much if I involve him in every little thing I do. Now he presses the microwave buttons for me, unloads the bags of fruit into the fruit bowl, opens my eye shadow case, puts things in the sink…. I move about 1/4 as fast, but at least it's peaceful! Goodnight!

  12. let me just say that i don't know you anymore than you know me but i enjoy your blog and photography. this post made me recall a quote i heard at education week many years ago. it has stayed with me every day and rings loudly in my ears when i can't seem to "do it all". the quote came from an instructor who said, "every time you say yes to one thing, you say no to something else" and she added that it is usually your famiy that you say no to. it hit me like a ton of bricks as i had little ones and busy callings.
    my husband is now bishop and i'm not any less busy – the work load has just shifted. i have learned that you have to be able to just let go and come to accept that not everything can be or will be perfect at the same time, if at all!
    when my nest is empty and the kids are gone (ours are still in grammar/middle school) i want us and them to remember good times, fun times, and that i invested my time in THEM when we were home together. they won't care in the end that the house was clean, furnished, decorated, and perfectly orderly…but they will fondly remember, or rather I WANT THEM to fondly remember that we made the most of our time together while they lived at home, even if that means i must say no to last minute requests from others, meetings, exercising, the housework, yardwork, phone calls, emails… you get it. good luck!

  13. Dear Shawni-

    I know you only from your blog and absolutely LOVE everything you write and your photography! And, it is photography editing that I have a question about (for you).

    I know you're incredibly busy and this is completely random, but I was wondering if you might have any advice (or even be able to?) about editing some wedding pictures. I had someone who didn't know anything about photography take my wedding pictures and they turned out to be not so stunning… email me if you can (I can send some examples of the pics) THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! tiffaner at gmail dot com

    P.S. I totally understand if you can't get to this. You're just the best person I could think of that might be able to help me out 🙂

  14. I am right there with you on having the kids help with the chores. With my older two I did a lot of "it's so much faster if I do it myself" but it's not fun teaching 15 and 13 year olds how to clean the bathroom. So with my 6 year old he is learning to do his own laundry now… with lots of help from me, of course… but it's so much easier to get him trained now while he still thinks it's fun, and I enjoy doing it with him.

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