Monday, May 2, 2011

No Plans, Just Strategy

Once upon a time, I had the idea that life as a SAHM meant that one could do a lot of projects. But I never really thought I would be a SAHM, so I didn't put a lot of critical thought into this belief. My mother was one for years, and to the child version of me, it seemed like she accomplished tons, so why not? I thought.

It is, perhaps, one of the ways I've found this SAHM-hood to fall far, far short of my expectations.  Because it feels like I GET NOTHING DONE around here. The bigger kicker, for me, is the realization that the more I try and plan to get something accomplished the MORE FRUSTRATED I feel at the end of the day. So, I try to make fewer plans. I think:

Well, if we get to the store sometime in the next three days, it will be okay. I'll just wait until Mattias is really protesting a nap, and then I'll stick him in the car - he can sleep - and we'll run errands.

Now that I've written that - oh my gosh! - the image that comes to mind is everyone eating cake because we ran out of bread while Mattias sleeps peacefully in his crib. I mean, really, can anyone feel frustration when babies are sleeping and cake is being eaten? I've painted a lousy picture.

Still. Harnessing time for productivity is so elusive with piccolini. Productivity IS sticking Mattias in the car to run errands when he's protesting a nap. That is the plan - and maybe 'plan' is the wrong word - that is the 'strategy.' Improvise and React. Strategize, but please, don't plan. Plans are long and complicated. The life of a plan is dependent upon the correct orchestration of too many parts. Strategies, however, are flexible and respond quickly. Strategies are more like conditional statements: if A then B; they protect against the domino effect of multiple things gone wrong.

Remember how I said my mother accomplished a ton as an SAHM? Well, when she was here, at our house last weekend, taking care of the piccolini (so that everyone else could focus on the deck), I bought a Make Your Own Mozzarella Kit.

"Here, Mom.  I bought this for you. A little project to do with the piccolini. The man in the grocery store says it's really easy and fun. As long as you use fresh whole milk and bottled water. And you stir long enough and don't let the milk boil. One gallon of milk makes a whole pound of mozzarella."

I'm pretty sure that my mom found mozzarella making with the piccolini neither fun nor easy. I'm pretty sure I ended up holding Mattias and distracting Noah so that she could stir a gallon of milk on the stove. I'm pretty sure the curds never quite got solid enough - and the kneeding never happened. I'm pretty sure I threw away more than a pound of sloppy curds from the fridge last night.

So much for the plan. She gave me a strategy as she washed her curd-covered hands in the sink: make the mozarella at night, while the piccolini are sleeping to see what I'm getting into first. And probably I'll pack the whole kit away for when they are older. No extra holding, no extra distracting, no throwing away sloppy curds.

It's okay that the pound of mozzarella never happened. Really. And, Mom? Thank you, for teaching me about strategy. Strategy which is proving to be a lot more successful as a productivity technique.

We're just going to keep eating cake while Mattias sleeps peacefully in his crib.  Ha ha.


Pregnantly Plump said...

It is hard getting things accomplished. Especially with two.

Anonymous said...

at least you are more creative (I love your blog!!!) than I was when my girls were little and spent much of my nursing time pushing around different 'plans' for the next hours and days - always ready to switch around in the next minute if a nap did not work the way I planned it...
I always found it easy to be out for play dates and such, then you don´t feel frustrated when nothing got done around home.