Structuring your day as a parent with young kids is an art.
Are you over whelmed as I am? Feeling like you have a never ending “to do” list and just when you feel like you accomplished a lot you turn around and there’s another list to feel guilty about?
I feel like I can never catch up; like I can’t catch my breath. I dream for the day that I can say I’m bored!
I hustle and work my momma but off crossing off things from my “mandatory” list as it all has to get done right? I have to feel productive and accomplished. I have to see the end of my list. I’m a stay at home mom, this list is my job! Right?
I can work every day, all day at my to do list; I wake up and tackle my list with dedication and effort. Only to stop and realize hours in, my kids have watched TV for far too long while I check my boxes; checking my boxes yes but also becoming more and more overwhelmed and just flat out tired.
I’m tired of always getting things done at the expense of my kid’s attention and at the expense of my own well being. I’m tired of after checking so many boxes off I STILL feel guilty for all the things I DIDN’T get done. I’m just dreaming of the day I don’t feel like guilty even after working my but off. It’s like there’s a guilty zone I place myself in of “shame on you stay at home mom for not making today productive”, and I’m stuck in it.
Something has to change.
A typical mom’s life includes quite a list of mandatory non negotiable “to do’s”; cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner, cleaning said breakfast, lunch and dinner, pick up and drop offs, diapers, etc. (The actual list is too long to write, but you get the point...there’s A LOT to do).
Then there is this list of other things that come up regularly but are not “mandatory” (if you leave them long enough though they can become mandatory). For example, laundry is not mandatory in a day but can become mandatory once all your closets and drawers are empty. They are the things you wish to get done, hope to get done and if they don’t get done, this is the list that really piles up.
Then there’s this haunting list of all the things that are way past due; the list that sits on your shoulders like the biggest weight weighing you down. Anyone else have clean laundry piles? Or overflowing recycling bin? A dentist appointment long overdue? How about that pile of things to donate sitting there in the corner that was meant to be donated weeks ago?
OK, so I clearly have a list that needs to get done. That’s just momma life. This list is there for a reason. I’m not saying to abandon all my lists in search of freeing my guilt and ignore my responsibilities (although to be a kid again just for a week does sound blissful!) There are important things on my lists (won’t touch on the fact that sometimes our lists can have non important items too that we make to feel important, that’s a whole other topic of blog). But how can I have my cake and eat it too?
Then came the idea of my new daily “rule” to only do FOUR things each and every day. I broke them down into these four categories:
1.)Mandatory to do’s
2.)Overdue to do’s
3.) Would love to accomplish to do’s
4.)Something I love to do
That’s it! So let’s explain...Number one’s mandatory items are not the diapers and feeding the kids type items (Those are just must do’s naturally in the day). This is the “I’m out of milk so I NEED to pop out to the store today.” The absolute essential extra to do’s in the day. This is my only category that is allowed to have as many as each day needs (unfortunately that’s just momma life).
Number two is only ONE overdue item; like finally tackling that unorganized pantry or vacuuming the car or smaller items that are piling up like paperwork, taxes or booking a hair or dentist appointment.
Number three can be anything that’s on your heart’s desire to also accomplish although is something that if I don’t do it in my day, that’s OK too. It is the one item I can skip if my number one mandatory to do’s have a longer list that day.
Number four is something that will bring me joy that day; taking the kids to the park, reading a book, taking a bath, baking, etc. Really, anything that makes me feels like I did something for me or makes me happy. This is absolutely priority each and every day.
The beauty of this 4 category “rule” is the fact that you are choosing what you are doing each and every day. There should be no more “to do” list mom guilt when things don’t get done.
You choose what gets your attention and because you actively chose something, you can’t feel guilty for what you didn’t do because today that’s not what you chose.
It’s a win, win; you get stuff done AND treat yourself every day. You are also purposefully limiting how much you are doing and leaving time for play. There’s just enough balance to feel accomplished and also enjoy your day by doing something for you. Every day you are making YOU a priority.
Maybe you’re like me and over working yourself, always feeling in the “guilty zone” that you didn’t get it all done or not enough done. Or maybe you’re in the “guilty zone” because it’s hard to keep you motivated to get things done. Maybe you need this rule like me to slow down, or to motivate you to tackle your mom list.
Either way, this daily “rule” is working for me....give it a try and tell me what you think!
Let’s kick this mom “to do” list guilt thing to the curb!
Wife. Mama. Doula. Writer. Blogger. Singer. Christian.