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It’s easy to get to the end of the day and not feel like I’ve gotten much done.
I used to write (cook)books and post recipes to my blog and build my brand and make money. Now I just take care of Hadassah and make supper and clean my house every couple of weeks if I’m lucky.
(That was said tongue in cheek, except for the cleaning the house every couple of weeks part. That part’s true. 😛 So no hate comments about my incorrect perspective. My next blog post will be covering that very subject.)
^^if that picture doesn’t wrap up motherhood I don’t know what does. These photos were taken in mid January.
A backwards to do list?
A lady from my church (hey, Judy!) once told me that instead of making to do lists when she had little children, she started making lists of what she had accomplished by the end of the day. I thought that was a pretty cool idea, so one day when I felt like I had been particularly productive I gave it a try.
I am very much a list person. Like, a compulsive list person. I have struggled with elements of OCD/OCPD* throughout my life to varying degrees and lists have always been a major part of that, so I don’t think I’ll ever throw out my to do list entirely, but I have learned over time that I actually get more done if I don’t rely on lists so much. I can waste a lot of time and energy by constantly looking at my lists and stressing over what to do next, in the most efficient order. If I focus instead on just doing something, and only one thing at a time, my brain doesn’t get so tied in knots as if I strategically plan my day down to the minutest detail.
That being said, lists DO help me stay organized, and I think most people who don’t have compulsive hang-ups could greatly benefit from more lists in their lives. Everything in its place, in moderation.
*I received a comment from someone telling me that I shouldn’t use OCD as a label for plain ol’ perfectionism if I don’t actually have the disorder. I completely agree. OCD is something I’ve dealt with to varying degrees since I was in high school, sometimes fairly severely, and looking back I can see evidence of it in my childhood as well. I’m currently on low dose medication for it and that has improved my quality of life tremendously (for which I am so, so thankful). OCD is not something to be taken lightly!
I can’t do it on my own.
Don’t underestimate the power of prayer in daily life. On this particular day I remembered to pray and ask God to help me get some specific things done. Whaddya know – He did. Hadassah played happily for longer than usual while I got some cleaning done! I also prayed through specific tasks throughout the day. Prayer makes such a huge difference – to my mental state if nothing else! (Which in turn often affects my productivity, so win-win.)
My “Done” List
So here it is – my list of what I got done (with God’s help, and for His glory):
– single parented (my husband was away on a quick trip)
– got up twice with Hadassah during the night
– nursed her twice during the night (and stayed up with her when she was wide awake for an hour during the night)
– nursed her five times during the day
– fed her solid food twice, plus shared bites of my supper (sharing is fun)
– listened to 2 John through Revelation 2 (I use the Bible Gateway app on my phone for this while I’m combing my hair every morning)
– listened to the Bema podcast
– read a book (not a whole book, mind you, but a few pages of one)
– practiced piano
– talked to Ryan and my mom on the phone
– went for a walk in the sunshine
– took a nap
– made a good lunch + dessert for tomorrow (Sunday)
– combed my hair (I never knew this would be worth putting on an “accomplished” list, but when you take a baby with you wherever you go…. This list is not in any particular order, by the way.)
– cleaned up the house
– gave H a bath
– photographed a recipe
– went to Arby’s and Goodwill (my treat to myself since my husband was gone, and no, I did not get a salad)
– sewed a cute daisy button onto one of Hadassah’s dresses in place of a saggy bow
– sorted some of Hadassah’s clothes and removed some that are too small
– put away Goodwill purchases
– cleaned the mirrors, vanities, and toilets and dusted
– emailed a friend
– did some miscellaneous blog things
– reconciled a bank statement
– put new recipe pictures on my computer
When I finished typing that list I felt more accomplished than I have in awhile! And very grateful to God for the practical answer to my prayer of the morning.
Some tips for getting things done
I listen to the Bible every morning while I comb my hair and brush my teeth, get dressed, and tidy up our room. Hadassah is usually happy to play with her “upstairs toys” on the floor while I do this. She likes hearing voices (especially over loudspeakers, or coming from telephones), so listening to something helps keep her content. I’m careful about listening to podcasts, even Christian podcasts, around her because I don’t want any bad/crass language to become “normal” for her and I don’t want her little head constantly full of stuff (stillness is important), but I don’t think I can go wrong with the Bible.
Wednesday is usually laundry day. Thursday is my day to empty the trash cans. On Friday I feed my various fermentation projects and water my plants. On Saturdays I make a biggish evening meal so I have leftovers for Sunday. (I don’t find getting up early and racing around preparing food before church to be very conducive to rest and a spirit of worship.)
If you can’t do it all, do something.
I have a hard time getting all my cleaning done at once, so I often split it up into (mirrors + toilets + vanities) (dusting + sweeping + mopping) (bathtub + shower). I split these tasks over 2-3 days. Eventually at least most of the cleaning gets done. Otherwise I’m stressed out trying to block off 1.5 hours to clean. If I get a free block of an hour and a half when Hadassah is napping or Ryan is running errands with her, I’d much rather spend that time working on a blog post than pushing a vacuum!
I hesitate to post this list of accomplishments because I don’t want to be part of the comparison trap. Please keep in mind that the list above was from a pretty productive day, and there are days when my hair doesn’t get combed until 2pm and literally all I do is take care of the baby, tidy the house, and make supper. Those are the days when we had a rough night and I’m propping my eyelids open until I manage to get a nap…or Hadassah is extra fussy and won’t occupy herself. I try to keep in mind that meeting the needs of my child and husband is my full time job, and if I’ve accomplished that to the best of my ability in that day, I have succeeded.
And I have only one child. To all of you moms with two, three, ten children – I don’t know how you do it but I’m hoping and praying God will make that clear to me if He chooses to bless us with more munchkins…. At this point it looks daunting! Please tell me I’ll grow into it!
And don’t get me started on the “working mom” and the single mom. I realize that I am so, so blessed to have a loving, supportive spouse who is usually around in the evenings and on weekends to help with childcare and household responsibilities. I do have a bit of a career with the blog/cookbooks, but that’s completely on my own time table and as you can see, I haven’t been posting very regularly. We live off of my husband’s income and treat my income as “extra” for paying off med school loans and such, so there’s no pressure there for me to bring in a paycheck. That’s a blessing. A huge blessing. It’s a tremendous gift to be able to stay at home with my daughter and be her full time caregiver, and I encourage you – if you’re able to get to the point where you can do that too (even if it takes a couple years of hard work and scrimping to get there financially), you won’t regret it.
To the “mom at heart” who has yet to see her desire for children realized, I see you. You may get a whole lot of stuff done in a day, but you’d trade that for a needy baby in a heartbeat. I won’t pretend to know what it’s like, but my heart hurts for you. You have an essential role to play too. “God setteth the solitary in families.” (Psalm 68:6a)
Not a mom? Not even married? This is for you too. I think we all have days (or seasons) of feeling “behind.” The key principles are the same. Just keep doing the next right thing, focus on what you are accomplishing instead of what you aren’t, and trust God for the rest.
I want to see your lists!
Not for comparison’s sake, but so you have a space to type a list and be encouraged by what you’re actually getting done (even and especially things like putting supper on the table and answering 500 questions in a day), I’d love to see what YOU got done yesterday in the comments!
(And I’m just nosy like that. Have I mentioned that I love the minutiae of life, especially other people’s lives? If you want to include what you had for breakfast, that would be great too…bahaha.)
I follow @m.is.for.mama on Instagram. She’s a pretty cool mom of 10 who shares her to do list in her stories every Monday and invites others to do the same for motivation. If that’s your thing, give her a follow!
“We tend to overestimate what we can do in a day, and we tend to underestimate what we can do in a year.” -Cathy Hay
Life adds up, folks.
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Photo credits: Katelyn Thomas
Cuteness + runny nose: Hadassah