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Published November 12, 2012, 11:35 PM

Parenting Perspectives: Ready for a break from life in the hamster wheel

The realization hit me on a Monday as I hung my kids’ laundered-a-couple-days-ago clothes in their closets. I’m trapped in a hamster wheel.

By: Sherri Richards, INFORUM

The realization hit me on a Monday as I hung my kids’ laundered-a-couple-days-ago clothes in their closets.

I’m trapped in a hamster wheel.

I was finally finishing that round of laundry, and both their laundry baskets were already full of dirty clothes.

I’d stayed up late the night before to pick up the house. It was trashed by noon.

While I emptied the dishwasher, a pile of dirty dishes stared back at me from the sink.

Just as I breathed a sigh of relief for having finished one work assignment, three more were added to my plate.

Like those cute furry rodents, it feels like I run and run and run on my wheel and somehow find myself right back where I started.

“Can I hop off, please?” I begged my Facebook friends that Monday.

Obviously my complaint reflects an abundance of blessings. My kids have clothes. We have a home that gets messy and food that dirties our dishes. I have a job that pays me to write.

And surely the never-ending loop of life’s more mundane tasks grates on us all at some point. But I do believe it’s more acute for moms whose work centers in and around the home.

This concept first occurred to me this spring when I read “The Essential Stay-at-Home Mom Manual” by Moorhead native Shannon Hyland-Tassava.

In the book Hyland-Tassava talks about how frustrating that work-is-never-done aspect of motherhood can be. It’s not like at the office, when you can shut the door and say that’s all for the day, she says. There’s not the same separation.

Instead, she writes, moms need to manufacture their own breaks and end points, something I haven’t been successful at doing. Mostly, because I have trouble pinpointing any sort of end when I consider my litany of chores. Every fresh diaper gets soiled sooner or later (usually sooner).

As I think back at different points in my life, it seems like my time was devoted to forward progress.

In college, each paper written or class passed brought me that much closer to a degree. In my 20s, I planned for a wedding, redecorated a house and prepared for my daughter’s arrival.

Now, though, I spend most of my time on tasks that constantly get undone.

I’ve thought a lot about setting new life goals to provide myself with an end-game, some forward progress to shoot for, but I’m not sure the answer is more work.

If anything, there’s a lack of play in my life.

When I made my hamster wheel analogy on Facebook, my friend Angie suggested a vacation to her Montana home would do wonders. I don’t disagree.

A break – to hop off for a long weekend – may be just what the veterinarian ordered.

Perhaps I’ll try a different wheel. Roulette, for example.

Vegas, here I come.

Sherri Richards is mom to 4-year-old Eve and 1-year-old Owen and a reporter for The Forum.

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