Breakfast has been eaten. The dishes have been washed and set out to dry. Your kids are both quietly playing in the living room. And there is a load of laundry sitting on the couch just waiting to be folded. The basket is calling you, and the temptation to answer is strong. If you fold it now, you won’t need to fold it later. Maybe you’ll actually be able to sit back and watch some TV while the kids nap this afternoon, instead of spending your quiet hour immersed in heaps of laundry. But instead, you just sit back on the couch and watch your children play. You watch your daughter flip through book after book, a never-ending soliloquy pouring from her lips. You watch your son acting out scene after scene from his favorite TV shows with small figurines. They are both immersed in their own worlds, and as you sit on the couch and watch them, you’re drawn in as well.
Give yourself permission to just sit back and watch. Yes, there is laundry to fold. Yes, it will need to be done eventually. But here’s the secret I’ve learned in six years of married life and five years of motherhood: there is always laundry to be done, and it does in fact get done eventually. So I let myself sit back and watch from time to time.
When you’re raising children, there is always work to be done. There are always things to do. But sometimes you just need to stop. Sometimes you just need to sit and watch. These days won’t last forever. Life won’t always be this simple, this innocent. So if you find yourself choosing between your children and a chore, you have permission to choose your children from time to time. You have permission to set aside your work for a bit. You have permission to sit and watch your children. Sometimes we all just need to stop.
Sometimes we have to choose chores. Every day we must make the hard choices. There are kitchens to clean, clothes to wash, floors to sweep. There are laundry piles to fold, surfaces to dust, dishes to do. But there are also block castles to build, teddy bear tea parties to attend, and pieces of art to create.
And sometimes we don’t need to do anything. Sometimes we just need to sit and watch as our children open up an entire world of imagination to us. We can be witnesses even without participating. Sometimes the imaginary world shatters when we barge in without being invited. Sometimes they don’t even want us to play. Sometimes they just want us to watch.
So the next time the laundry is calling you, consider ignoring it for a while. If you don’t need to do it right now, consider putting it off for a bit. We don’t need to be constantly working. We don’t need to be constantly doing something. Sometimes we should just sit and watch our children. Sometimes you need to work, but if you have the time, you have permission to just sit and watch. You’ll never regret that decision, I promise you.