Move-it Monday: Coping with the Never-ending To-Do List

First things first, the winner of the item-of-choice from last week’s Skirt Challenge is:

Kendra, who said: “I would jump up and down if you sent me that headband! I think I definitely need it to feel cute in the delivery room. : ) I’ve loved this series!”

Well, get ready to jump, Kendra, because just as soon as you send me an email with your address, I’ll get your delivery room headband right out to you! (Just don’t jump so hard you jiggle that little boy out of there too soon! : )).

Okay, so…

A few weeks back, when I broached the idea of expanding Move-it Monday’s topics to include things outside the realm of fitness, several of you gave me great feedback about practical and creative ways to do just that.

I think my favorite came from one of my longtime, most encouraging readers (who I always love hearing from), Miss Leigh Anne, who suggested that Move-it Monday could be about anything that I needed to get a move on—a virtual way to check something (fitness, house-related, crafty, food-themed) off my list.

And I thought, “That’s brilliant!”

After all, I like lists.

Source: momandwife.com via Abbie on Pinterest

 

But then I thought, “Hmm…but they also kind of scare me.”

Why?

Because, even knowing my time limitations, I tend to think, “Sure I can do that,” and pile a couple more things on that day’s list when I take the time to write it all down.

And, of course, inevitably, there are at least three things that don’t get done, and I feel like a bit of a failure (okay, that may be a bit harsh, but it’s a letdown if I don’t get to check all or almost all of them off).

You see, if I actually wrote down the things I know I can (and typically do) get done in a weekday, it would look something like this:

1. Do Bible reading (although, I have to confess that I have been shamefully lax about this lately because the kids have all—for the first time in their lives—been sleeping in, and I’ve been lingering in bed instead of kicking myself out when I know I should)

2. Get kids’ breakfast

3. Homeschool

4. Clean kitchen/start loads of laundry while homeschooling

5. Answer 3 emails in between answering homeschooling questions

6. Get kids’ lunch

7. Pick up living room

8. Put kids down for naps

9. Fold one load of laundry

10. Get dinner prepped

11. Study choreography notes for fitness classes

12. (Maybe) read/comment on 3 blog posts

13. Get kids up/dressed/fed snacks/ready to go to gym

14. Teach/take classes at gym (Usually 2 hours + a one hour round trip to get there/back)

15. Stop by grocery store on the way home (usually only once a week)

16. Eat dinner

17. Do bedtime routine (teeth-brushing, Bible stories, silly songs)

18. Relax with hubby while watching Castle or Fringe (we pretty much don’t watch conventional TV, and we don’t have cable or anything else fancy, but we do get Amazon unbox, and the aforementioned shows are two of our—very limited—faves…ask me about practically anything else current except Psych, Bones, and Downton Abbey, and I’m completely clueless)

19. Write blog posts, do other blogging-related chores (honestly, this takes the place of the “relaxing with hubby while watching…” part 99% of the time, which means that he has to stop the show sometimes and catch me up when I get especially distracted…he loves it ; ))

20. Go to bed (usually around 11 on a good night)

Of course, not included in this list are reading books with the kids, playtime on the floor, snuggling with Della, and the other myriad “distractions” and “extras” that come along with 3 small children.

If I’m completely honest, too little of that gets wedged in these days.

Come to think of it, when I write it all down, it sounds pretty respectable.

But I pretty much never write this stuff down on my lists when I make them.

Why?

Because it’s just a part of LIFE, and it doesn’t feel like they count.

If I don’t get them accomplished, everything falls apart, and I really do feel like a failure.

The kinds of things I write down on lists are:

  • Clean/organize fridge
  • Make/Photograph Try-it Tuesday Tutorial
  • Scrub Bathtubs
  • Write guest-post
  • Order new homeschool curriculum
  • Add devo books to Kindle queue
  • Get haircut
  • Paint benches
  • Sort Della’s clothes
  • Plan Ezra’s b-day party
  • Weed flowerbeds

You get the idea.

The extras make “the list,” but as you can see, they’re not really that extra a lot of the time.

I’m making myself sound like some sort of productivity machine, but while that 20 item list (which, granted, includes items like, “go to bed” and “feed children” since I was trying to make it as feasible as possible) is a pretty realistic rundown of my typical day (at least on the three days that I teach exercise classes), you might have noticed that:

  • put away laundry (my ULTIMATE nemesis)
  • mop bathroom floor
  • clean out van
  • organize kids’ shoes
  • go through junk mail
  • etc., etc., etc

…don’t make the list.

And those really aren’t extras.

(Especially that shoe business. We got to the gym the other day, and I noticed that Simon was wearing two similar but different flip-flops. Greeeeeat).

So, obviously, I can have a pretty full day and still leave a lot undone.

Which, lately, has left me feeling a bit crazy (-er).

And with Shaun gone quite a bit recently, sometimes, it feels like I will never dig out from underneath the rubble of the things left undone.

But now that he’s back, and my perspective is a bit less…skewed (notice that he’s not “involved” in 90% of the things I listed for my typical day, and yet just having him available as back-up or to help with lunchtime/dinner/bedtime/discipline/hugs is HUGE), I think I need to start tackling more of the “extras.”

And being more consistent about the constants (starting with Bible reading bright dark and early in the morning).

And choosing to rejoice in rather than stress about the abundance of my daily responsibilities.

AND writing down/checking off the “life” stuff too.

Because, really, if I actually think that 99% of my day “doesn’t count,” what does that say about my opinion of my life?

So…

What about you guys?

How do you cope with the never-ending to do list that is LIFE?

Do you write down the everyday stuff or do you struggle with thinking that it “counts” too (or do you not worry about lists at all)?

P.S. Speaking of things left undone…

My husband may kill me for telling you this, but he’s really pretty much the nicest man ever born, so I’m not too worried…

Do you remember those adorable ducks from last week?

IMG_2394-001

Well, um, I managed to keep them alive, despite a two-day trip/visit to Dallas to visit a friend during the Texas Tornado Event of 2012, and I was even giving them a bath in the bathtub when my husband came home Friday afternoon.

What a good little duck-sitter I am, no?

No.

As it turns out, not so much, apparently.

Because, even though both Shaun and I reminded each other of the necessity of bringing the ducks in for the night after we set them outside in a laundry basket full of nice, soft hay so they could bask in the sun’s warmth and dry off from their bath…

Even though we stressed to each other the importance of such a task…

We both forgot.

And when Shaun went out the next morning to check…

They were gone.

(I’ll spare you the details, but we confirmed later that they had not just somehow managed to toddle off unharmed).

Talk about utter failure.

Now, I don’t know what you would have done in such a situation, but I know what we did:

We hightailed it to Tractor Supply where we plunked down $8 and change for emergency duckling replacements, thankful beyond measure that the boys were hanging out with my mom that morning and that Della is too little to tell on us (I do think the man who said, “Do you want any particular ones?” and then received minute instructions as to the color, composition, size, and shape of the ducks required was a bit surprised/suspicious).

No, really. What would you have done?!

P.P.S. Here’s what I wish my To-do List looked like today:

 

The CSI project ~ Menu Plan Monday ~ C.R.A.F.T.  ~ The Southern Institute ~ Making the World Cuter ~ Thrify Décor Chick ~ Metamorphosis Monday ~ Sumo Sweet Stuff ~ Gunny Sack ~ Singing Three Little Birds ~DIY Homes Sweet Home ~ Dittle Dattle ~ 1929 Charmer ~ Everything Under the Moon  ~ ModMix Monday ~ Sew Stylish ~ Coastal Charm ~ Under the Table and Dreaming

Tuesday ~ Get Your Craft ~ Tip Junkie ~ Blackberry Vine ~ Crafty Confessions ~ Me & my Boys ~ A Bowl Full of Lemons ~ Home Stories A-Z ~ My Uncommon Slice of Suberbia  ~ Carolyn’s Homework ~ Sugar Bee Crafts ~ House of Grace ~ Passionately Artisitc ~ My World Made by Hand ~ Uncommon Designs ~ Trendy Treehouse

Wednesday ~ Blue Cricket Design ~ Somedays Crafts ~ Sew Much Ado ~ Sew Woodsy ~ Handy Man, Crafty Woman ~ Savvy Southern Style ~ {Primp} ~ Midweek Fiesta ~ Rae Gun Ramblings ~ Polkadots On Parade ~ Lollipop Cards ~ JAQS Studio ~ Let Birdz Fly ~ Let Birdz Fly ~ My Girlish Whims

Thursday ~ Thursdays are Your Days, Transformation Thursdays ~ Somewhat simple ~ Show off your stuff ~ House of Hepworths ~ Delightful Order ~ My Simple Home Life ~ The Frugal Girls ~ Thrifty Thursday ~ DIY Diva Thursday ~ Tablescape Thursday ~ No Minimalists Here ~ Crafty, Scrappy, Happy ~ Thrifty Decorating ~ Between U and Me ~ 36th Avenue

Friday ~ The Shabby nest  ~ Show and Tell Friday ~ Finding Fabulous ~ I’m Loving it ~ Simply Sweet Home ~ Whipper Berry ~ Chic on a Shoestring decorating ~ Spunky Junky ~ Delicate Construction ~ Homemaker in Heels ~ Family Ever After~ French Country Cottage ~ Common Ground ~ Young And Crafty ~ At the Picket Fence ~ Fingerprints on the Fridge ~ Miss Mustard Seed ~ Addicted to Decorating ~Bacon Time with The Hungry Hypo ~ Making Lemonade ~ I Can’t Stop Crafting ~ Over the Big Moon ~ Shabby Art ~ Answer is Chocolate

Saturday ~ I heart nap time- Sundae Scoop ~ Tatertots and Jello ~ Be different Act Normal ~ Funky Junk ~ 2805 ~ Making Lemonade Blog ~I am Along for the Ride  ~ Lolly Jane

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25 thoughts on “Move-it Monday: Coping with the Never-ending To-Do List

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  2. I am a list lover too, and I often feel the same way… I will admit that I have started to add those “must do” things to my list lately, for example “shower” made it on my list yesterday (and yes, I checked it off). When I was first married I almost always felt guilty about not getting my lists done because I thought my husband would be disappointed if there were dishes by the sink or a few crumbs on the floor when he came home from work. I was wrong. He doesn’t care. I was putting a lot of unreasonable expectations on myself because I had this idealistic picture of what a home should be, and married life should be. I’m still trying to work out exactly what is reasonable, but it’s a big relief to find out that I’m not the only one who struggles to get my lists done! I always appreciate your honesty (and your humor). Thanks!

  3. I can’t help but laugh at the duckling story. My mom got us a puppy when we were younger from my aunt who had several puppies in their latest litter. My mom ran over it with the car…I know, she’s a horrible person, but it was an “accident” or so she says!!:) just kidding… My sister and I were at school thankfully. Soooo… she found some guy to get rid of the dead dog off the road…:( and then booked it up to my aunts house to get another before we got home from school! Sad part is that we didn’t find out until 15 years later when we were adults, talking about funny things that happened when we were kids and she brought that up….NO BEUNO!! We will never look at her the same!!! :) All in all, you are a great parent for doing that! :) They’ll never know….we didn’t!

  4. I totally relate. I usually think I can do more than I actually can-and I actually don’t like schedules or staying on plan, so I usually get sidetracked doing what I want to do and then feel guilty about not crossing off the “important” stuff. That was until six weeks ago when my first little darling came into the world. I count it a gift from God, but I somehow KNEW I couldn’t expect too much from myself. So, now when I write my “To Do” list I call it “MY Wish List” because who knows if any of it will actually get done, and yes, I do now include mundane activities like taking a shower because I consider it a success when that happens!

  5. Yes I have lists. As of Friday, make sure kids check ducks is on my list. As of today, really really make sure kids check ducks is on my list. Put scarf on duck and take picture is on there too, but may never get done. I don’t have a small enough scarf.

    ~Bliss~

  6. I am a list lover too, and I often feel the same way… I will admit that I have started to add those “must do” things to my list lately, for example “shower” made it on my list yesterday (and yes, I checked it off). When I was first married I almost always felt guilty about not getting my lists done because I thought my husband would be disappointed if there were dishes by the sink or a few crumbs on the floor when he came home from work. I was wrong. He doesn’t care. I was putting a lot of unreasonable expectations on myself because I had this idyllic picture of what a home should be, and married life should be. I’m still trying to work out exactly what is reasonable, but it’s a big relief to find out that I’m not the only one who struggles to get my lists done! I always appreciate your honesty (and your humor). Thanks!

  7. P.S. A sweet lady once told me that when a task on her husband’s “to do” list has been accomplished, she uses a fat marker to cross it off because it looks impressive. I dig that idea. : )

  8. OK…I was so wrapped up in the To Do list pic that I completely forgot what I was originally going to comment about. hehe Lists….LOVE to make them. I don’t tend to put the everyday items unless something’s backed up (like laundry…love doing it & folding but dread putting it away…odd I know) because that way I know that I’ll get to it sooner rather than later because I love marking things off. My list is therefore never ending….ever….kinda like laundry & dishes. Hmmmmm Anywho. Could the boys tell the difference? Hopefully they were happy with ducklings either way to notice. :-) Like I used to tell my sister when she was stressed & my niece was little (she’s a single parent to 1), as long as she’s clothed (she went to daycare & then to public school), fed, & bathed (when she gets dirty) and she knows she’s loved, she will gloss over the rest…if she remembers the “dirty” house. And you know what? She remembers that her mom loved her enough to provide for her and to love her unconditionally….and still does. That’s what kids remember. When I was growing up, I don’t remember whether the house was neat & clean, but I do remember being loved. Yours (& hubby) will too….and that’s the important bits. :-)

  9. OMStars!!! Your posts usually make me at least giggle. However,……the To Do list was priceless. I literally laughed out loud (I couldn’t help it) for number 1.

  10. Ah, thanks for the reminder that the everyday normal things of life DO count on the productivity list! And the always needed reminder that laying on the floor playing with my baby boy is really more important than having spotless bathrooms (cause who does anyways?).

  11. Woot! Woot! I made the blog :) ….haha! So glad you liked my idea for Move it Monday! I soooo wish I had an answer for you, but alas, my list each day looks alot like yours. I don’t “count” those things at the end of the day, cuz they are more like necessities. Afterall, if I don’t feed my kids, who will?? I like to try to get “other” things done (the extras) you mentioned, but many days it is a fail! So I struggle with this constant “to-do” list in my head and stares at me as I look around the house. But, I’m trying to find the balance of enjoying life w/ my kids. Like taking them on a walk the other night and therefore, we ate sandwiches for dinner. Or playing with them when they are always begging me to instead of crossing something else off my list. I look at their little eyes, and my time with them is sooo short :) I read somewhere that each day a mom has a need to do something that can’t be “undone”. Undone things at my house = dishes, laundry, cleaning, organizing, etc…..So, I’ve found that if I can actually get some time in my sewing room or with my crochet, I’m alot more pleasant. (And time reading my Bible!!). So, I have no profound advice for ya….just know that you aren’t alone in your struggle. I’m putting my closet on my “to-do” list this week. It is in a desperate state! Will let you know how it goes!
    Also, LOVED the duck story. We just visited Tractor Supply on Sat to check out the chicks/ducks. Didn’t buy any, but I would have totally done the same thing :)

  12. Lists, love em and hate em! I think I like the idea of ‘getting organized’ by writing stuff down, but it never seems to be inclusive or have an end point…such is life :)

    Congrats to Kendra for winning!

  13. I have to say I hate doing laundry, and I need to try Fly Lady’s tips on spot cleaning the house, etc. Have you read Fly Lady? She has some good tips for how to do a spot clean on certain areas of your house. I do good some weeks, then others I slack off. Over spring break we had 2 weeks worth of laundry – I never let it get that bad. I’m finally catching up. I had a plan for spreading out house cleaning per week, and was doing good for awhile, then spring break came and it all went out the window. Our girls are on a modified track schedule so they get out of school at the end of next month and my schedule will be pretty much non existent till they go back to school. We’ll have summer school, a couple of activities,etc. But it is hard to get it all done in a day. I think when your kids get older it will be easier for you. My girls love to help so this summer I am going to enlist them in helping with things like folding laundry, putting their laundry away, dusting, etc. They are in the stage that they like earning allowance and helped my friend out on Saturday, and earned $2. They wanted to take it to dinner on Sat night and tip the waitress (we told them to save it for something bigger but praised them on wanting to give the nice waitress a tip). LOL. Cute to do list for today. :-) Molly

  14. oh, girl.
    we live very similar lives. :)
    putting laundry away NEVER happens here…at least not for days, and the lists get so long!
    i get overwhelmed a lot, but i have been giving myself a lot of grace, because i would spend all my days feeling so defeated! i LOVE crossing things off of lists, but i usually keep the lists in my head, which isn’t proving to be very effective. :/
    it sounds like you do an amazing job as a wife, mother, teacher and friend! your posts always make me giggle and they are so fun!
    i especially love your to-do list for today…;)

  15. Liz, don’t feel inadequate!!!

    That was SO not the point.

    I guarantee you that there are about 1,000 things you’re getting to that I never do.

    Maybe you should write yours down and marvel. : )

    And you’re right about taking moments to recharge.

    For me, it definitely is with my Bible, and I notice how much my mood/peace suffers when I don’t.

    And I like your idea of two lists.

    That might help! : )

  16. Kaie,

    Those are great ideas!

    Mine are actually doing their “chores” (making beds, brushing teeth) right now, and we’re working on getting them into a more consistent schedule (they also help unload the dishwasher, take folded clothes upstairs, clean their toyroom, carry groceries in, etc.

    They also usually get their own cereal, drinks, and sometimes snacks.

    Every little bit helps, right?

    Thanks for sharing!

  17. Abbie I totally feel the same way. Homeschooling 2 boys with 2 more running around is about all I can manage some days. But the 2 older ones (8 and 6 whose name is coincidentally Simon) are great helps. If I don’t mind that their laundry sometimes doesn’t make it to their dresser still folded that is. They also switch the loads from washer to dryer, which gives them some form of moving around which I found they need during school. They are also in charge of lunch or dishes once a week (prepare to eat pb+j and scrambled eggs)

  18. Abbie, I LOVE with a capital L, love lists and even more?…crossing off the things on my list. I even start my list with “make a list” just so I know I can cross that off. It feels real’ good, not going to lie.

  19. Oh. My. Goodness! Your list of “life” things makes me feel terribley inadequate – in a good way, of course. I know you feel like you’re not getting much done, but it seems to me that you’re getting the important things done. And isn’t that what counts?

    The one thing I noticed that was missing was “time for me”. I’m a tremendous believer that each and every single one of us NEEDS some private, quiet time. In your case, that may be with your bible. But, a hot bath, long walk, time with a good book, or just time thinking and being also works. Personally, if I don’t get time for myself each and every day, I struggle through the days. I get peopled out, projected out, and just plain snarly. Even a few minutes does it for me.

    Perhaps you really need two lists. A life list and a project list. Something that shows you just how much you actually have accomplished, as well as a list of things you’d like to do.

    Good luck with getting it figured out, Abbie!

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