Lists and Chores

Excerpt from Book 4 of 40 Something, coming out in November 2016


Shannon PeelTo Do List

  • Coffee with the girls at 11
  • School meeting at 1
  • Grocery shopping
  • Pick up Aiden and Jessica at 3
  • Make a roast for dinner
  • Put on a load of towels
  • Pay the bills

I bite on the end of the pen and twirl it along my lips. I know I’m forgetting something. I reach for the oversized calendar, where all the kid’s appointments are written out in different colours. It is filled with words; pink one’s for Alexis, red ones for Isabella, blue ones for Aiden and the odd purple word for Jessica.

I find today’s date and … Why I don’t check the calendar, before making my daily to do, list is beyond me. Isabella has a dentist appointment after school and Aiden has a football game at a school in the next town over. I scratch out picking him up at 3 and text Jessica to tell her I won’t be able to pick her up from school. I add pick up Isabella and take her to the dentist for 3:30 onto the list, then, pick Aiden up at 6 from the school.

If I throw the sauce together now and dump it in the slow cooker, I’ll only need to make the pasta when I get home. I text all the kids and Gus, Dinner @ 7.

Having dinner, as a family, every day is important.

As if on cue Alexis texts, I have a class tonight. I slam my thumbs onto the letters as I text back, why isn’t it on the calendar? She answers back with a quick, why does it matter? I respond with It just does.

I don’t expect her to respond, and she doesn’t.

I reach for a pile of different coloured pads of paper. A different colour for each of the children and Gus’ Honey Do List. I divide up the various chores between the children and make notes about those things that need to be brought to their attention, like Isabella not picking up her clothes off the bathroom floor – again – or Aiden leaving his skateboard at the bottom of the stairs – again. One day these messages will get through those thick skulls.

I look at the items on the lists. All the mundane chores, which I know I’ll end up doing because they are all too busy to help out. The excuses are endless: Too tired. Have too much homework. Have to be somewhere else. Forgot to do it. They always have a reason why they don’t complete their tasks and the work falls to me.

Over the years I’ve tried different incentive and punishment ideas to get the kids to do their chores. It lasts for all of a week, if I’m really lucky, then it’s back to me doing everything again. When I think about the planning, keeping track, and cost associated with each failed idea, I cringe. It’s so much easier to do the work myself, than to try to get them to do any of it.

Anger descends onto my shoulders and I clench my teeth. There is so much to do and no matter how much I run around cleaning up after everyone, when I turn around, it looks like I’ve done nothing. Absolutely nothing. Most times when I look behind me, the mess is bigger than the one I’d just cleaned up. I look at the pad’s of paper with the lists laid out in front of me, each item yelling to be completed first. Why do I even bother? I know I’m going to end up doing every chore on those lists. Still, maybe one day, hell will freeze over and God willing, they will complete one item written out. I keep hoping.

Maybe I should go on strike.

An image of garbage flowing out of the windows and doors, flashes in my mind’s eye. Piles of laundry, dirty dishes, and stuff strewn around the place becoming the stuff of horror movies. I feel overwhelmed by the thought and all energy drains away, leaving a deep tiredness behind.

I don’t have time to be tired.

I get up. Best to keep moving. I have to deal with the pile of dirty dishes on the counter. Who was supposed to empty and fill the dishwasher last night? I glance at yesterday’s chore lists as I open the dishwasher and proceed to empty it of clean dishes to make way for the dirty ones. Aiden. I don’t think that boy knows how to empty the dishwasher, let alone fill it.

My phone’s alarm starts beeping, interrupting me. It’s ten thirty and I need to be leaving the house in 10 minutes. I quickly finish up and start the dishwasher before heading out the door.

Always so much to do and nothing ever gets done.

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post was originally published in 2015.


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Purpose of this Blog

This blog is a look at the characters in a new novel about being a 40+ year old woman in today’s world. The novel, like all literature, draws from real life but embellishes it, changes it, and merges it together with fantasy. You won’t find a 100% true story on the blog or in the novel. I welcomes any parenting or dating stories you would like to share for the book, but please understand the story will only be a jump off point as I’m not about to publish anything exactly as it happened. Email her today at Shannonpeel01[ at ]gmail [.com]

Photo on 2014-04-17 at 12.25 PMShannon Peel is the author of THIRTEEN a book about a boy and his mom caught behind enemy lines when soldiers attack their North American hometown. The story asks the question, what if it happened here?

For more information check out her website.


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Shannon Peel

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