Mom in VA

Mom in VA

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Momadoro Technique

I love reading about ways to become more efficient . . . it gives me a break from actually having to BE more efficient. A couple of years ago, a friend introduced me to the Pomodoro Technique.  This uber-simple approach to time management gets its name from the tomato-shaped ("pomodoro" in Italian) kitchen timer.  Basically, you measure your productive life in 25-minute increments called . . . wait for it. . . "Pomodoros".  During each Pomodoro, you shut out the world and focus exclusively on a single  task until your timer dings.  You then rest for five minutes, reset your red timer and start again.  This anti-multi-tasking approach cultivates all sorts of good habits and seems to be a near perfect system for achieving one's goals.

There's just one GLARING problem!  While this system may work wonderfully for a dad cleaning his guns, a five-year old drawing flowers, or a college student studying for finals, there is no possible way it could work as written for a homeschooling mother of seven.  I can count on one hand the number of times in a given week (or month) that I've been able to focus--without interruption--on a single task for 25 minutes straight -- and that includes attending Mass.  (Pardon me while I go nurse the 4-month old who just woke up from a dead sleep to laugh at me.)

Enter the "MOMadoro".  It has all the genius of the original, with one simple modification . . . shave 20 minutes off the timer.  I can usually focus on a project for 5-minutes without neglecting someone.  If all goes well, I'll get a second one in before the phone rings, someone starts bleeding, a baby poops, or someone "accidentally" sits on his brother's head and then complains about the teeth marks on his rear end (loudly, with tears) while I'm on the phone.  (All of these actually happened today.)

Here's the cool part!  You get to add up your completed Momadoros each day, knowing that each one represents a little dent in the chaos.  At the end of the day, you can quantify your progress (something we moms rarely get to do).  You can even keep a list of the Momadoros you want to do when you have time, so you'll always be ready to use those free five minutes to accomplish something that's important to you.

So, what are you waiting for?  Grab your tomato timer (or free tomato timer app) and get going. You'll be amazed at what you can do in five uninterrupted minutes.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

72 is Our Magic Number . . . What's Yours?

I haven't posted in some time, and a long Baby Alice update is overdue, but it's late so this will be a text-only, serious post about one of the issues occupying my thoughts these days.

Life in this big family can get pretty chaotic.  I do pretty well with moderate levels of chaos . . . I always have.  Some people close to me might say that I sometimes create a bit of it just to keep things interesting.  But there are members of my family who don't tolerate it well at all. And, I've come to recognize that in the long run it's like a millstone that slowly grinds away at everyone's peace of mind.

Lately, I've been thinking about ways to reduce the chaos in our home.  In thinking about this, I've had a glaring realization about the nature of big families that I wish I had paid attention to much earlier in my parenting life.

I did not grow up in a large family. . . there were four of us. . .  Mom, Dad, Son and Daughter.  That means there were 12 relationships (4 people times the 3 others they relate to)--with all of their ups, downs, and nuances--playing out constantly in our home.  That's a fairly complex system, with plenty of opportunity for conflict, misunderstanding, and--well--chaos.

Now take my own family, with its nine members (not counting the dog), that's SEVENTY-TWO relationships swirling around this house all day long (which is probably why I haven't been able to write this during "normal" hours).  Up until now, I've thought of the difference between my current family and the one I grew up in as simply having five more kids.  But, when I look at it as being 60 more relationships, I see my role as "peacemaker" in a whole new light.  It's not just about the arguments or conflicts now.  Two wound-up happy boys can disturb others' peace just as much as if they were fighting.  So, I'm asking myself what is reasonable to expect from everyone, given the wide range of temperaments in our family.  I don't have many answers yet . . . but I'm giving it a lot of thought.

What is your magic number?  How do you bring peace to your home?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Birthday Reflections and Thoughts About Lent

Well, here we are . . . February 11, 2013 . . . My 46th birthday . . . The day Pope Benedict XVI announced his intention to resign . . . Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes . . . Day 1 of my 18th Week of Pregnancy . . . The day before Mardi Gras . . . Sick day for Jeff (and sniffly for a few others).

Well, here I sit . . . Reclined on the couch . . . Pawn Stars on in the background . . . Awake way too late . . . Barely prepared for tomorrow's school day . . . Needing a good night's sleep . . . Blessed by a good husband, beautiful children, and many friends . . . Thinking about Lent.

I believe the question for this Lenten Season is how to reorder my priorities, my time, and my outlook in order to make room for God's voice. I was struck today by the contrast between Pope Benedict's announced retirement and Pope John Paul II's decision to remain Pope until his death. The latter humbly showed the world the value of all human life, even that which is no longer "useful" by the world's standards. The former is abdicating the Chair of St. Peter with the same spirit of humility, recognizing that the Pope must be more than an example to the world. He must also be the Shepherd to the world largest flock. Two men facing the same decision, coming to nearly opposite conclusions. Both confidently choosing the right course based on their deep understanding of God's Holy Will.

God reveals to us through these men that doing His Will requires us to listen to him, to pay attention. How often have my children failed to do what I've asked simply because they were so focused on what they thought I wanted that they didn't hear me tell them what I actually needed them to do?  How often have I done this in my relationship with God . . . assumed I knew what He would want me to do, and skipped the paying attention part (which can be rather time consuming and inconvenient)?  How many times have I told myself that being a busy mom was a sufficient excuse to cut short my time spent discerning His guidance?  I'm guessing both of these Popes were at least as busy as I am. I'm sure they both longed for days of monastic solitude to listen quietly for God's whispered voice. But they weren't called to that sort of quiet, and neither am I. They certainly didn't wait for it in order to listen for God's voice. Neither can I wait for perfectly quiet moments of inspiration. I must seek His voice in my noisy days, and I must make it a priority to shut out the noise long enough to really listen to his answers.

I think I've found a goal for Lent.