Time, Lost and Found

Parents look at one another knowingly when the childless complain about being oh-so busy

   One of the things they don’t tell you about being a parent of small children is that time, as you once may have known it, ceases to exist. This came to mind over the weekend when I was finally able to start some house chores that had been postponed by the birth of our youngest, Ellis, over three years ago.

    Parents look at one another knowingly when the childless complain about being oh-so busy; there’s busy, then there’s chasing-after-a-toddler and minding-a-pre-teen busy. Getting to tasks around the house or even having friends over for dinner? They can fall by the wayside — for years.

    Part of the problem at the Rattray household is that I am what you might call a compulsive do-it-yourselfer. There is hardly a job that I do not want to tackle myself, which means that projects are inevitably delayed. I’m big on getting a coat of primer on something, for example, and then not circling back to the top coat for months.

    Ellis probably takes after me: He insists on helping the minute he sees a hammer and nails come out. With his lending a hand, the work is more about watching that he doesn’t wallop the dining room table, for example, than actually getting anything done.

    My wife, Lisa, and I ultimately struck on what appears to be a good solution now that the indoor season is upon us, and we desperately want to have people over again. My best hours for housework are in the morning, in that period between the second cup of coffee and an early lunch. So, with our eldest child at a Friday night sleepover in Bridgehampton, Lisa sent the two younger ones to spend the night at her parents’ house.

    The difference was remarkable. By 9 a.m. Saturday I had retiled two sections of floor. At 11 I was moving dressers around and washing a couch slipcover. By 1 p.m. I had sanded and primed a rusted baseboard radiator cover. And at 2 I started cleaning the basement.

    Some couples set up date nights to keep the candle-flame going. For Lisa and me, at least for now, the goal is to have chore days. The dates can come later.