To-do or not To-do

I ran across one of my old calendars from about 12 years ago when the kids were between 8 and 12 years old, and it was quite shocking.  Ignoring for a moment the possible hoarding issue, I used to be incredibly busy and super efficient.  Every single week was filled in mice-type, with work commitments, sporting events and practices, birthday parties and orthodontist appointments. I worked at least 50 hours a week and I was also taking university classes, so there were assignment due dates and exams.  Plus in those days I periodically fancied myself some sort of “hostess” so would voluntarily invite people to my house for dinner and even parties.

Things have certainly changed.  I’m now working considerably less hours a week, and the kids worry about their own appointments.  The birthday parties my two girls at home for the summer attend no longer involve getting picked up by mommy afterwards.  Even on their own birthdays, my involvement is minimal and by special request, I have ceased and desisted from preparing goodie bags from the dollar store. The birthday parties hubby and I attend now usually commemorate someone attaining some milestone age that previously we only connected with elderly people who we had to talk loudly to and  respect, but definitely not hang out with.   (You know when you’re at one of these parties because when they pass the birthday cards around, everybody either reads it by holding it out at arm’s length like it’s poisonous, or by looking down and peering scarily over glasses perched way out on their nose. Also these parties end really early, and nobody throws up, or passes out or dances.)

Once again I digress – but my conclusion is that it’s true what they say about if you want something done give it to a busy person – because now even though I have the time, I find every excuse in the world to not do the stuff on my list from day to day. I’ve been carrying over some to-do items for several months now.  In fact, I’m thinking of having my list laminated.  Tasks include:

  1. Do paperwork
  2. Put away Christmas ornaments
  3. Paint kitchen
  4. Paint every other room in the house
  5. Organize photos and videos (this one should come pre-printed on all to-do lists)

Carrying over these items from day to day and week to week is really kind of hurting my self esteem.  I’m starting to feel like an underachiever.  So I’m starting a new to do list, one that makes me feel good  because I am checking things off.  (And who among us hasn’t added something to their “to-do” list after the fact, simply for the satisfaction of checking it off?)  Yesterday my list looked like this:

  1. Get up
  2. Make Coffee
  3. Phone bank and see if they can undo the horrible mistake I made while online banking last night
  4. Pet cats
  5. Feed cats
  6. Put cats outside
  7. Check email
  8. Go upstairs to get something
  9. Come back downstairs
  10. Check Facebook
  11. Change clock alarm time back to a.m. from p.m., so next time I work we don’t wake up at the time I should have left for the meeting like yesterday
  12. Think about if there is enough beer for weekend
  13. Go get beer
  14. Walk around outside and look at yard
  15. Get dressed
  16. Have a beer when it’s 4:00 because it’s the long weekend
  17. Throw away the now rotten strawberries I bought 5 days ago to make jam

Wow – that’s a lot of checkmarks!  I got 17 things done! Notice there are no meal preparations written down.  I don’t want to set any precedents.  If I make a meal for the family, then good for me – but I don’t need the pressure of them seeing it written on the list, because then expectations are just too high.

The other alternative that might be equally satisfying would be to have a “To-Don’t” list.  On it I would list all the things that I’m not going to do that day, and then I could also still have the pleasure of checking them off.  It would have things like:

  1. Clean Windows
  2. Water Plants
  3. Get on the scales
  4. Clean out the fridge
  5. Lay mirror flat on the table and then look down into it*

(*If babies “make strange” and get hysterical when you peer into their carriage or crib, you might want to try this – the mystery may be solved)

I think the “To-Don’t” list might be equally fulfilling, because it amounts to checking stuff off, and then basking in the warm glow of accomplishment.  And what’s not to like about that?  So my calendar isn’t as filled as it once was.  Times change. To steal a quote from Jerry Seinfeld:

“I am so busy doing nothing… that the idea of doing anything – which as you know, always leads to something – cuts into the nothing and then forces me to have to drop everything.”

I get that.



Filed under Family, Humor, Kids, Thats Life

3 responses to “To-do or not To-do

  1. Dagmar

    I concur with the to-do list you have outlined… mine is actually a little shorter 🙂 And guess what?? I am almost completely guilt-free. Working on the 2% I still feel.
    Its after 12:00 noon and I’m seriously breaking out the beer – well it is Canada Day – but honestly who needs an excuse.

    Happy C-Day!


  2. Janet

    I totally agree! I have been so busy since off work. My lists are so longggg. I go back next week to 40 plus hrs a week. The lists are going to stop then. I am going to be exhausted and obviously nothing will get done. I’ve been off 2 months. Never have I been off 2 months.I am worried and feel sick. Actually. The kids don’t help and hubby is too tired from 10 hrs a day at work. What the hell. I guess I will try really hard and see what happens eh?karen thanks for acknowledging motherhood exhaustion. Love u. Jan


  3. Alida

    I get it too – love that quote from Seinfeld.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s