The first mistake was going hungry.
The second mistake was going tired.
The third mistake was taking the kids with me, who were also hungry and tired.
The time change of Miss F.’s cheer practice Monday night was almost cause for a “case of nerves.” First of all, they moved it up a half an hour, which left us no time for homework before she had to be there. Second, they cut the practice down to one hour from two.
With a two hour practice, I have time to get home and do “something,” like bathe the smaller kids and get my son’s homework done. But an hour? Between the ten minute drive to and from the school, I would have forty minutes at best, to be in my own house before turning back around to pick her up. Forty minutes is not a user friendly window of time, at least not to me. It’s one and a half baths for my two children. It’s two thirds of my dude’s homework. Whatever critical task I choose to begin in forty minute’s time, whether it be homework, baths, or laundry, it will be unfinished when I run out of the house to pick up my daughter. I like continuity. Because these days, if I leave my house with a task unfinished, it might not get finished until a week later, or never, for that matter.
These days, “getting things done” is king – especially “critical tasks,” as I call them. Between my new “day job,” the magazine editing, shuttling the three kids around to school and activities, and settling into my “single mom” routine, I have to squeeze things in. And if I can’t squeeze it in, it doesn’t get done. Furthermore, it only gets squeezed in if it’s a critical task.
To specify my definition of a critical task:
Ensuring we have clean clothes is a critical task (but folding them or putting them away is NOT).
Packing lunches for school is a critical task.
Brushing my teeth and having my children brush theirs is a critical task.
Showering is a critical task (yet washing my hair is NOT. Thank goodness for top knots!)
Priorities? Sure! I still have those. But they nowhere near hold the significance of critical tasks. There are a lot of things to me that would normally take “priority status” that have been completely ignored.
I have unreturned phone calls to friends and family who have been calling in to check on me. But sometimes, I don’t get to sit down until 10:00 at night, and by then, quite honestly, I am too tired to talk.
I have school fundraisers that I’m not fundraising for, that once upon a time, felt important to me. I unapologetically returned the Kids Stuff coupon books to the schools, without even purchasing one for myself.
After volunteering to chair one of the major fundraisers for the cheer squad, I bowed out. I actually called the head coach and said, “I can’t do this right now,” because I couldn’t…it wasn’t critical task.
But when I took the very last roll of toilet paper out of the linen closet on Monday morning, buying toilet paper became a critical task – and only because not having toilet paper in the house would cause a critical situation.
I decided to do the toilet paper run while Miss F. is in her one hour cheer practice. It’s just enough time for me to run to Costco and swing back to pick her up. Costco is quiet on a Monday night, and my list is short. Toilet paper, canola oil, lemons, garbage bags.
This should take ten minutes at the most, right?
And cost $40.00?
Except as soon as I roll my oversized shopping cart into the store, I encounter the display of Halloween candy, and decide to throw a bag into my cart, lest this become a critical task four weeks from now!
Then somewhere between the garbage bags and the oil, I realize I’m almost out of salt.
Then, racing up to the register, I catch a display of Pashima style merino wool shawls in my peripheral vision.
Those evil geniuses. They know you have to walk down that aisle to get to the register.
The shawls stop me in my tracks. They’re beautiful. I’ve always wanted one. They have them in every color imaginable – so many that I can’t quite decide on “the one” for me.
I get lost in time for a brief few moments, a luxury these days. Yet, while I’m lost, my kids find the children’s DVD’s, which are brilliantly (again!) displayed next to the shawls.
“Mom! Mom! Look what they have!” My dude runs up to me, with an arm full of DVD’s.
Then, my little girl runs up to me with her own armful of DVD’s.
3 DVD’s, 2 shawls (I really could not decide!), 1 econo-pack of toilet paper, a bag of lemons, a container of salt, one jug of canoloa oil, a bag of Halloween candy, and one box of garbage bags, and $139.00 later, I check out of Costco.
Toilet paper purchased, therefore one critical task is solved.
But now I have another critical task on my hands:
How am I going to pay for all of this?