I unload the second of four loads of laundry from the washer to the dryer. Number 5 comes toddling in, offering to help. I pick up my pace, wanting to quickly finish the task before a mess is made. I stop, mid-transfer, and remember--What am I in such a rush for? Little hands and wobbly little legs will not always follow me around. There will be many many days ahead when I will undoubtedly do laundry in a hauntingly quiet house. Make time for inefficiency, Ruth. They are opportunities for so much more.
So, I intentionally drop a few pieces of clean laundry (gasp!) clumsily to the ground while I continue to move a wet load of jeans to the dryer. "Oops!" I say, "Can you help me pick it up, Asa?" At 16 months, Number 5, could not be more confident that he is the solution to all cleaning and organization aspirations! My inefficiency provided a moment of glorious interaction with my otherwise in-the-way toddler. He giggles and chucks the clean laundry he rescues into the dryer, assured that he has a useful place in my busy day.
Do you choose efficiency over opportunity sometimes? Are there missed moments of interaction, humor, fun, and training that you miss as a parent, simply by being overly efficient with your tasks? I'm guilty of this regularly.
Indeed there are times when the children simply are not invited to chop vegetables at dinner time because of time constraint, or when it isn't the right context to teach your oldest how to mow a lawn...timing is important. However, more often than not, we create chaos, lack of time, busyness, and inconvenience simply by defaulting to poor time management, rather than an intentional plan to make time for inefficiency.
I don't know about you, but my kids need it. They need to know that there is time to get caught up in a discussion about something that's been on their mind. They need to feel the freedom to try to do something around the house, and FAIL at it. They need to know that everything worth doing takes time.
What are some things you can be less efficient in for the purpose of including your children? What tasks can you sacrifice completely quickly in order to offer the opportunity to practice for your little one?
Our attitude towards how we approach the day in and day out is what really informs our children about living:
Dear friend, you will never get today to do over again. Ask the Lord for the wisdom to discern when to make time to linger, and when to simply get things done. Ask Him to show you if efficiency has become your idol. I know it has been mine many times. May our love and our worship of Christ, keep us from running the race fast, without running the race WELL.