Want to cover your floor in cooked rice? Hire a few toddlers. It always worked for me back when my kids were little (actually, there are still a couple of them who can be relied on to strew rice across the floor like it’s grain being tossed to the chickens.)
I’ve never been so keen on cleaning up promptly. I’m not proud of it, and yet my procrastination has a way of making things easier in the long run.
Take the rice on the floor, for example. If I tried to clean it up right after dinner (or even an hour later) the rice would be all gummy and moist and would stick to the broom or get smeared on the floor by whatever cloth I was using to wipe it up. If I procrastinated and left it until morning, however, the rice would be dry and super easy to sweep up with the broom. It was basically the opposite of our society’s usual “better to do it now!” message. In the case of rice on the floor, procrastination paid off.
Turns out that’s true of paperwork and filing, too. Today I finally attacked the giant box of “stuff to file” that I’ve been stashing away since we started our renovation three years ago. I had built it up in my head to be a gargantuan task. Instead it was incredibly easy. Basically anything from 2017 or 2018 didn’t matter anymore. Oh, sure, I keep our tax returns forever, but phone bills from three years ago? Nuh-uh. In the end I recycled more papers than I kept.
I’m starting to think that sticky situations in life are like sticky rice; they get less sticky as time goes on and then they’re a cinch to clean up. What feels like a huge deal today won’t even register as a problem in ten years; it might even have resolved itself without intervention by then.
Parenting is often like that. All those times that a child says, “I need your help right now!” and is told to wait a second. Five seconds later they say “Never mind, I figured it out myself!” That delay in responding saves effort, sure, but it also gives the child time to learn something and gain a bit more skill or independence. In short, procrastination can be beneficial for all involved.
I’m aiming to be more aware of it these days. Kid not motivated to do school work? Children fighting with each other? Sure, I could wade into the fray and try to actively resolve the situation, but it would be messy and far more difficult than just letting it be for a while. Despite my propensity for reacting quickly to provocation, I plan to remind myself that it’s okay to just go to bed and see if the proverbial rice is dry in the morning.