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A week of chores

I don’t know how other people with full time jobs and young kids do it. Is it normal to take a week off from work just to catch up on chores and tasks around the house? This will be a bit of an unusual post by getting into boring details of tasks everyone has to do, but I wanted a record of it to remind myself what this part of our life was like. I tend to focus on outings and events and highlights of our adventures, but sometimes I’m just at home sorting closets.

I’ve been incredibly busy with work these past few months, including a couple work trips (first in AGES!) and things at home just kept piling up. The kids have outgrown their current sizes of clothes, that cluttered pile near the kids’ art center is growing menacing, I haven’t put away the non-perishable groceries from 2 days ago, oh and there’s a problem with the car registration. Did I mention that there are 3 birthdays coming up, and Hanukkah? My evenings are already packed with making dinner for the kids, dishes, trash, and all the other random things required to keep a house going. I’m exhausted by the time they go to bed.

When we returned from Philadelphia after our last visit, I surrendered and took the week off from work to catch up. I actually had it planned out, MJ was traveling for work and our au pair was traveling back to her home country for a week to visit with family, so I was at home with the boys for the week. We had a new babysitter coming in through a service for 4 days, but there are complicating factors so I’d still have to be close by in case she needed anything. Plus I still had to do school drop off and pick up for Adam, which our au pair usually handles. Actually working that week would have been a stressful and tiring endeavor, but it was perfect for getting all these household tasks done!

I started with some cleaning. We have a housecleaning service that comes twice a month, but there’s always a ton of Cleaning Projects to do, usually related to organization. Is anyone else drowning in boxes from monthly deliveries of necessities? I mostly stay on top of it, but not lately, and little collections of miscellaneous delivered things had started piling up and I needed to set aside a chunk of time to tackle them all and put things away, which also required tidying up some cabinets and closets. We’ve also been dealing with our primary kitchen refrigerator not working properly, so we’re living out of a large mini-fridge and brought the small chest freezer upstairs so we’d have easy access to our active frozen food. The freezer takes up a prime bit a real estate in the laundry room, so for this exercise part of my work was finding a new home for all the stuff we needed to move, including all our wrapping paper and gift stuff. I also needed to do a full clean-out of the downstairs room where Aaron sleeps over night, as the room is not part of our regular cleaning service.

The garage also needed some attention. Things just get piled up in there, and it was becoming a real problem for finding things. With the small chest freezer living upstairs for now, I moved some filing cabinets that recently came into our possession into that spot, and took the opportunity to reorganize some of the shelves down there. We’ve also managed to collect a bunch of boxes that were simply filled with packing material. At one point it had been useful, and a small amount still is, but we really had too much and I managed to get rid of a few boxes and bags of it. The garage still looks like an absolute disaster, but this amount of tidying allowed me to get to the clothes I needed for Aaron (Adam’s old 4T clothes!) and move the giant, broken-ish old plasma TV into the garage, so I could set up the train for Hanukkah – two more things unblocked!

Truly, kids grow up very fast. The rotation of clothes to the next size has to be one of my least favorite tasks, as it involves laundry, digging through the garage, packing up and labeling old clothes, and in the case of our eldest, buying new clothes. The small amount of joy I get in picking out cute new t-shirts is so wildly overshadowed by the rest of this process, and I don’t even get that satisfaction when it’s just moving Aaron into the next size up. Did I mention it’s also expensive? Don’t even get me started on buying shoes, and how quickly they destroy them.

Laundry. There’s always laundry. First, I had to fully unpack from our trip and get everything cleaned. There’s also the special laundry that piles up, like that sweater from Halloween that has delicate care instructions so it’s been sitting on the valet for over a month. And the covers we have for the dining room chairs, which get cleaned… sometimes? Or when there’s a horrible spill. It was sometime. In short, even the laundry load this week was bigger than normal and required extra attention. I also wanted to go through the mail that had come in while we were traveling and before.

I was able to leave the house a couple times. My new prescription glasses had come in, and so I was able to take a detour prior to a school pick-up to get them. I also had to sort out that car registration I mentioned, which was a multi-state ordeal. You see, we keep a car in Pennsylvania, but you can’t register a car in Pennsylvania unless you have a Pennsylvania driver’s license, even if you own property there, so it’s registered in California. Unfortunately there was a California-emissions related recall on the car, which put a hold on our registration until that was fixed. Fortunately, the timing of our Philly trip worked out so I could take it into the dealership while we were there to get the recall handled, and then come back to California to complete the registration with AAA. But that’s not all! Because it’s emissions-related and only California cares about such things, the dealership in Pennsylvania didn’t have the paperwork I needed to bring to AAA to get it registered, so during this precious week I had to go to a friendly dealership in California who could look up the work from the other dealership and provide the paperwork. Phew. It all worked out, and I have never been so relieved to conclude a vehicle registration renewal in my life.

All these exhausting tasks weren’t all that were on my plate though, I had some fun stuff! I got photos of the boys printed so I could prep and send out 40+ holiday cards before Hanukkah. And then Hanukkah prep! I’ll get into the details of this in another post, but there were lights to put up, a train to set up, and presents to wrap. No small tasks here. Finally, was prep for Aaron’s birthday party. MJ was arriving home on Aaron’s birthday, and our au pair was returning the day after, when we hosted his little birthday party with some family friends. I had already ordered is adorable Gecko’s Garage cake topper and some decorations, but I had some last minute balloons and party products to pick up at the dollar store on the way home from a school pick-up (Adam helped!) and to actually pull everything together and decorate for the main event. I love our small, family birthday parties, but I do wish they weren’t all roughly in within a month of each other, spanning December and January.

I did pause a little to take some time for myself though. I promised myself that I’d make time to finish one book, go to the newly opened Philz coffee for a mint mojito iced coffee one morning, and finish the last few episodes Doctor Who season 14 so I could watch the new specials. I succeeded! And I got in a few episodes of The Gilded Age too. I wish I’d done more to recharge, but I also would have felt bad if I’d let the other tasks slip.

Unfortunately, I also developed a cold. By Friday both Aaron and I were consumed with coughs and sniffles, and that was the day we didn’t have a babysitter. I had hoped Aaron and I could do a little adventuring while Adam was at school that morning, but instead we stayed home and watched too many cartoons. Aside from being sick, it was nice to just chill at home on that last day and relax in the satisfaction of having a slightly less chaotic home. For now. My hope is that as the kids get older, I can do a lot more of these things while I’m also responsible for the kids, but kids under five require a lot of attention and supervision.