Have you ever taken a personality test? You know those long, 100+ question tests that ask questions about everything under the sun? I love taking them! I love answering a hundred questions about myself, tallying up the score at the end, and reading the analysis of “who I am”. There are usually two overarching issues about these tests: 1) I (over)analyze everything, and 2) I am very indecisive! I don’t need a personality test to tell me that! When faced with a test with 100+ personality questions where you have to read a statement and choose what your response would most likely be, it takes me forever to decide on each response. It takes so long because I sit there and analyze each statement and my potential responses. Usually, I identify with one or two of the responses for each question. Then, my indecisive self tries to analyze what my end results will say based on which of the two responses I end up choosing! These tests are supposed to be fun and enlightening, but when it’s all said and done, I’m usually stressed because I think that I probably didn’t choose the right answers due to my over analysis, so therefore, my results won’t be accurate anyway… I’m a mess!
The whole point of this story is that personality tests generally define two kinds of people: those who are task-oriented and those who are people-oriented. The test questions that are specific to task-oriented or people-oriented personality traits always stump me. I think I am almost equally task-oriented and people-oriented. I’m task-oriented in the fact that I love to make lists, accomplish tasks, see progress, and feel successful about results. I’m people oriented because I love people, I love listening to people, and I love spending time with people. My love language is definitely quality time.
So, what does this have to do with loading the dryer?
Loading the dryer is a task, along with all of the other household chores that need to get done. When I get in a cleaning mood (this doesn’t happen often, but when it does…), I like to get things done efficiently. I get in the cleaning mood, and I’m on a roll. I usually have several tasks going on at once. I’ll sweep and vacuum while Riley Grace is in her high chair eating her supper. Then, I’ll put bathroom cleaners into all of the proper places and let them soak. Then, I’ll rinse her supper dishes. Then, I’ll start a load of clothes. Then, I’ll go back to the bathrooms and start cleaning. Once the bathrooms are done, it’s time to put the clothes into the dryer… you get the drift. I’ve got a cleaning routine, and I stick to it (that doesn’t mean that cleaning happens often…it just means that when it happens, I like to have my tasks in order! Please don't ask Patrick how often I clean the entire apartment...!). Somewhere in the order, Riley Grace is usually taking out more toys, unfolding clothes, or spilling juice. (Can anyone relate??)
So back to the laundry…
As it turns out, I have a new laundry helper. Yep, you guessed it. It’s this cool chick right here...Riley Grace.
She is mesmerized with the dryer. When I load the washer or dryer, she usually stands at the doorway and stares, or she tries to close the dryer while I’m loading it. J One particular day, the washer had stopped, and it was time to load the dryer. Riley Grace was examining my every move. So, I gave her a wet sock and asked her to put it into the dryer. The rest is history. Now, she is obsessed with loading the dryer! It’s the cutest thing. Anddddd it’s also the slowest thing! She takes one piece of laundry at a time and loads it into the dryer. The bigger pieces of laundry, like towels and pants, take an even longer time to get in there! She has the most serious look on her face as she’s working. She knows she’s doing something important, and she is serious about doing a good job. At the end, she throws in the dryer sheet and slams the door. She is the biggest and most precious helper!
Now for a task-oriented person (me), this longgg process of loading the dryer does not bode well. We’re still 10 minutes into putting one sock in at a time, and at this point on my cleaning list, I should already be dusting by now! I could be thinking of all the time I’m wasting by prolonging this process. But thankfully for the people-oriented side of me, I do not count this prolonged processed as “wasted” time. On the contrary, these moments with Riley Grace in the “tilly room” (short for “utility room”, as my Grandma would say) are priceless. I have the opportunity to slow down with Riley Grace, show her that I love her and care about teaching her, and spend quality time with her. Oh, how I treasure these moments and her sweet spirit!
And so the lesson behind my new laundry routine (with my new helper) is…
Slow down. Be in the moment, not ten steps ahead on what else you could be doing that would be more “productive.” Spending time with your kids – loving, teaching, laughing, playing, disciplining, holding, listening, molding – IS PRODUCTIVE. It’s a high calling from the Lord. Our society is so fast-paced. We have to work to have a mindset that doesn't stress out when we're challenged to slow down and be in the moment. Work at it! Your kids are worth slowing down for!
Take time to enjoy moments with your kiddos. Don’t be too busy for fun, light-hearted moments. Get messy with your toddler. Start a tickle war or a pillow fight. Do something spontaneous. Let them know that you can have fun and that you think they are fun to be with.
Take time to mold them and teach them. Don’t be too busy for precious, teaching moments. When I look back at my time with Riley Grace loading the dryer, I won’t regret that it took ten minutes to load the dryer, when I could have done it by myself in 30 seconds. In those moments, she knew I valued her. She knew I valued teaching her. And we both learned a lot from our time in the “tilly room.”
Take time to speak life into their lives, no matter how old they are. Don’t let the only words on your tongue be reprimands. Our words hold a lot of weight. Sure, we need to speak words of discipline from time to time. That's a necessary and good part of parenting that can also be a very teachable time. But we do not need to speak critical or belittling words, argumentative or complaining words, harsh or unkind words, pessimistic or exasperated words. Being a mom can be overwhelming, but thankfully, the Lord is our strength. He can give us all that we need to be the moms He has called us to be. And He can empower us to speak life into our children’s lives, even if we are tired, overwhelmed, or overworked.
Let them know that you cherish your time with them. You have a VERY important role. Don’t rush your time with them just so you can check off your to-do list. Your children will take note of all of your interaction with them, whether you invest in them or brush them off for another task.
If your to-do list is more important than stopping to let them load the dryer – no matter how long it takes – they will know. If you are too busy for them, they will know. Don’t be too busy for the precious gifts that the Lord has entrusted to you!
The challenge is this: Show your kids you love them each and every day. Don’t be too busy to stop and cherish little moments with them. They need you to be there for them. They don’t need the house to be spotless and the dinner to taste like it came out of Southern Living. They need a Mama who is present and who has embraced her calling from the Lord to love, teach, and serve her children. Go love on your kiddos!
Lord, give us Your unconditional love, strength, patience, and wisdom as we seek to raise our children to be godly men and women. Let us show them what it means to be Christ-followers and to be kind, gentle, loving people. Do not let busyness creep in and get in the way of spending quality time with our children. Let our speech be seasoned with grace. And let us always rely on Your strength, instead of our own. We love you, and are ever so thankful for the gifts You’ve given us in our children.