I love Parks and Recreation. The holiday they invented, Treat Yo’Self Day (October 13), is hilariously overstated and yet there is, as always, a grain of truth in their humor. This Valentine’s Day, I am going to do something different. I am going to combine a holiday that frankly depresses me with a holiday I think is hilarious but have never celebrated. My first act of celebration? I’m going to urge myself as well as those I love to treat yo self to some knowledge.
Some knowledge about what? I am going to treat myself to some knowledge about what in the hell I do all day. I fall into bed each night and the first thing I think is, “My house is a bigger mess tonight than it was this morning. But I was busy all day. What the hell happened? Did I even do anything?” I’m tired of asking that question. It’s insulting and frankly, it hurts my feelings. I don’t want to hurt my own feelings anymore, that’s what social media is for.
Of course I did stuff all day, I’m exhausted and there’s a new bruise on my left forearm. I don’t know where I got it but it sure didn’t come from lying around, fondling my phone and binge-watching teen-angst TV shows on Netflix. Also, my dog and my kids went to bed clean, fed and hopefully happy. They didn’t get that way on their own, especially the clean and fed part.
Luckily, my best friend in the whole wide world and I invented a free app, Tend: Task Manager & Journal that tracks exactly the kind of stuff I find so hard to keep track of. I keep a to-do list going at all times but it’s full of only the big ticket items. Making, changing and cancelling appointments for me, the boys and the dog. Things around the apartment that need fixing, sprucing up or gotten rid of. Work assignments. Ongoing battles to get academic accommodations for one of the kids…you get the point.
I do not put my day to day tasks on this list. Laundry, making lunch, checking and responding to the seemingly thousands of emails lurking in my inbox. These tasks and hundreds of others are the bread and butter of what I do all day. If they don’t get done, there are problems and sometimes downright chaos. This unseen, unacknowledged work is taking up a large amount of my time but how?
How often am I doing laundry? How often am I going to the store or Target or any of the other myriad errands I run each week (even in the midst of a pandemic, errands must be done). If I better understand where my time goes, can I make better decisions about how I allocate my time?
Also, I would just really like to feel proud of myself at the end of a long day and that is not happening right now. I am unkind to myself, mirroring the behavior I used to have to deal with in my marriage when my husband would come home to a messy house and ask, “What did you do all day?” Because I couldn’t show him a billing sheet explaining how I had allocated my time between all my different clients or a thing I had built in a factory or a messy uniform I could take off and throw at him, I never knew how to answer.
And it wore on me. Maybe I wasn’t pulling my weight. Maybe I was taking the easy way out by staying home and only working part-time. There was no way I could share what I had done, how many times I had done it and how long it took me to do each task.
Now there is a way. The free app my best friend and I invented, Tend, does exactly what I need to treat myself to some knowledge. And that knowledge can inform how I spend my time and maybe ways I can better allocate that time. Knowledge about how I spent my time can also hopefully begin to heal the wounds of years of unseen and unappreciated household labor I have performed.
Knowledge is power. Power to learn and grow and heal. Treat yourself this Valentine’s Day, you’ve earned it.
Stay safe and let’s talk again soon.