By Matt Reese
My wife was gone for the latter part of last week on a trip to Washington, D.C. with the AgriPOWER Ohio Farm Bureau program. This left me in charge of the house by myself — not a small task with two young children and a barn full of animals to care for.
“No problem,” I said to her as she left for the airport and wished me good luck in her absence.
While my wife was gone, I employed different strategies to save time, maximize efficiency and make it a fun few days.
Strategy 1: Do not clean or pick up anything until three hours before my wife comes home
Conservative estimates on my part show a three-hour-per-day time savings with this strategy. When considering all of the discarded toys, food spill catastrophes (some of these did require immediate attention), dirty dishes, muddy boot prints on the floor, tossed food containers, removed shoes, clothing and other items that result from the daily activities of two small children and their father, three hours of cleaning a day may be on the low side. If you immediately address the messes (as my wife is well known for doing), you have to pick it all up again an hour or two later.
As the week wore on and the mess piled up, the children began to notice a difference. My daughter commented, “Daddy, the house is pretty messy.”
My wife’s flight was due at 5:30 on Friday evening and I started the cleaning process shortly after 2:00. I worked off and on at the endeavor for about an hour of total cleaning time. Compared to the estimated cleaning time of nine hours over the three days, that is a whopping 8-hour savings. The house was very tidy when my wife got home, and, fortunately, the Health Department did not stop by that week.
Strategy 2: Leave the children in their pajamas all day
This did not work every day, since my daughter had to go to preschool. On the days when they did not need to leave the house, though, the kids donned their PJs from sunup to sundown. This saved roughly 45 minutes a day of clothes changing time as there is no need to change their clothes in the morning and by bedtime they are already in their pajamas. Plus, who wouldn’t want to wear footy pajamas all day in January? Ingenious.
Strategy 3: Rock out in the barn
We leave the radio on in the barn all the time and it is always on a country music station. I am not opposed to county music, by any means, but I prefer a local rock station. So, to cut loose a bit amid the responsibilities of temporary single parenthood, I decided to put the radio on my favorite radio station in the barn to rock out while doing chores.
If I timed things just right, I could enjoy the top five most requested songs of the day while filling water buckets and perform some air guitar in between feeding hay and grain. It might be my imagination, but I think egg production increased in the hen house and the normally ornery ram settled down into a much more docile state with a bit of rock music to alleviate his aggression. My wife insists the animals prefer the country station.
All in all, things went very well in my wife’s absence by all accounts. She was impressed with the tidy house, the children were not hospitalized at any point and I think I heard the rooster crowing a catchy guitar solo.