My other ramblings

The ‘To Do’ List

We’ve all got one, whether it’s all ‘up there’ and updated mentally, scribbled on an old envelope, or in an app which you use religiously. It’s part of functioning as an adult, juggling work, home, kids and their social lives and so on.

For me, the hardest thing to accept about the to do list is that it NEVER ENDS. This is true of both my lists at home (the washing basket is constantly being refilled, the pots will need washing, meals will have to be planned and cooked) and my ‘teacher’ lists (when I reached the third A4 sheet on those lists, despair did sink in quite rapidly!) It’s about how we deal with the lists that determines the extent to which they stress us out. 

I’ve been comsidering this a lot recently, as there have been days when I’ve almost resented having jobs to do, particularly whilst the children have been off school. Some days, my son has asked me to play with his toys with him and I’ve said “in a minute”, or “when I’ve put the washing away” and then the moment has passed, he no longer wants me to play Lego as he’s gone outside or asked for the TV to be on. That’s pretty sad really, because although the jobs have to be done, there are times when they aren’t the most important thing. (One thing I have tried is turning some jobs into a little game, such as getting them to help me put the washing away and then we can play once the job is done-the kids are pretty good at folding towels now!)

After my ponderings, I decided there were four main ways of dealing with the inevitable job list (actually there are 5, if you count paying someone else to do them, but that’s a luxury not many can afford!)

The ostrich approach

Burying your head in the sand and pretending there are no jobs is possibly not the most effective way to deal with the to do list. It works for a while, until you have no more mugs or plates, and no clean clothes for work. However, long term, it’s not ideal. Of course, there are some occasions where it comes in handy to just forget about jobs for a short time, for example planning the tea you’ll have after a family day out. Some days I’ll have prepped a slow cooker meal and switched it on before leaving, other times I’ll run out of time and they’ll have dippy egg and soldiers for tea. Either way, they get fed, so there’s no point me getting my knickers in a knot about chopping onions 5 minutes before we want to leave.

Prioritising

This is my go to method for dealing with the job list. I do the things that have to be done, the basics, first. Simple! But then sometimes there’s a job you’d like to get done before one of the essentials, for example (this always happens to me) when you want to fold the washing but you need to clean the floor before you put the clothes on it to sort into piles, and then you realise you also need the other basket that’s half full of dirty washing so you have to put a load into the machine and before you know it half an hour has passed and you still haven’t done the job you wanted to do!

When I was a full time teacher, I used to have a 1, 2 and 3 job list. 1s had to be done, as a matter of urgency. 2s needed to be done but not ASAP (and could possible be delegated), and 3s were a ‘would be nice if I get time’. It worked pretty well most of the time, but even with prioritising it is so easy to still feel bogged down by the sheer number of tasks. This is where you are in charge of what actually gets added to the list.

It’s so easy to add unnecessary tasks to a list, and make it look worse than it is. Does the loft really need totally reorganising on the same day as your child’s birthday party? Probably not (unless the party is in the loft!) Mr C often points out to me that I am making work for myself, and this is especially true with my crafty things. I like to make things look pretty, or add a home made touch, or find something on Pinterest at midnight the night before an event and feel that I ‘must’ make it. There are times when I have managed it, and times when I haven’t, but in the grand scheme of things it hasn’t made a bit of difference either way!

Juggling (or balls in a jar!)

When I was at university, one of our first lectures was on time management, the old tennis balls, golf balls, marbles and sand in a jar analogy about fitting in the bigger jobs and the little things will slot in between. This is another one I use a lot, for example folding washing, cleaning the kitchen sides or sorting paperwork whilst the tea is cooking-it’s amazing what you can do in half an hour with a spot of multitasking! At the time, this lecture had little impact on me, but 15 years on it makes perfect sense and I’m much better at seeing the size of jobs and organising them accordingly.

Meltdown

More of a ‘once in a while’ way of dealing with it, but I felt it needed a mention, in the hope that I’m not alone. Those days when you have a full on to do list and then something goes wrong, someone adds a job to the list you could have done without (the 3 year old redecorating the bathroom with toothpaste is a prime example), and you just fall apart because it feels like you cannot possibly do all of that unless you have time turner like Hermione in Harry Potter. These are the days where a cup of tea and maybe some cake are called for, and definitely days to re evaluate the job list and do some prioritising.

How do you deal with your to do list? Are you someone that manages to successfully wing it without writing anything down or planning, or do you plan super carefully so it all gets done? I can’t settle to ‘my’ relaxing things-craft and so on-if I haven’t done my jobs so I try to get them done as soon as I can. If I sit down after I’ve put the kids to bed that’s it, I’m done, so I don’t even pick up the TV remote until I’ve done my chores! I’m also making a conscious effort to embrace the job list (it’s more of an awkward hug than a loving one but I’m working on it). It’s about just getting on with it, and trying not to be grumpy about the jobs, they have to be done anyway so I’m going to try and find some joy in them. (Except pairing socks, there is no fun in that.)

I am aware that I have mentioned washing a lot in this post; there are two reasons for this. One is that I seem to spend more of my time doing that than any other chore. The other is that I am still bitter that there isn’t a laundry fairy. Also, I keep seeing memes on social media about there being extra people in the house judging by the washing pile, and I am almost certain they were written about my house.

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54 thoughts on “The ‘To Do’ List

  1. Omg I hear you lol arghhhhhh! I have a planner (Erin Condren Life Planner – love my stationery and if you want $10 off one let me know, I have a link πŸ™‚ ) for appointments, events, and kids stuff to do with school etc. Then I have a daily list of basic stuff that needs to be done to prevent overwhelm – currently this is on the Motivated Moms app on my phone but sometimes I do it ‘bullet journal’ style on grid paper. At the moment I’m using the Motivated Moms app for daily distribution of weekly cleaning tasks. It works really well – so long as you actually do the things! The app people have a September 30 day house clean challenge going on via their blog which I have signed up for as I am always behind and could do with a really big clean / organise – we’ll see! I am so over the housework and especially the washing haha yup it is never ending!! I try to do at least one load a day and dry and iron / fold immediately as if not it just ends up in all different piles, I am sure you know the score! I spent years as a stay at home mum looking for the perfect home management system but have finally come to accept that really I was looking for a way not to do it at all which alas, does not exist! So, onward we must go and suck it up right. I tell myself I’ll be sad when I’m not run ragged looking after people any more because that will mean they’ll have left home ❀ But sometimes easier said that done to be grateful when you're in the midst of all the chaos πŸ˜‰

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    1. Wow, now you are organised! I love the look of bullet journals but know I wouldn’t use them for long. I don’t have a phone app but I do put things on the calendar (with reminders!) for appointments and so on. I tell myself similar things to you, they won’t always need me or be here so I just need to get on. 😊

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      1. Lol if you could see my house…in theory I am organised – but mostly I just like lists πŸ˜‰ I’ve seen some fabulous bullet journals too but like you, it would never stick! But I have grid paper notebooks that I use now and then for my daily list to mix things up a bit. Maybe with some washi tape border….procrastinate, anyone? πŸ˜€

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  2. Balancing and prioritizing is very hard. I am a prioritiser. I have to be in my career. I also think making time for the little things and for ones self is important for mental well being. Even if its 30 min in the morning to have a peaceful cup of coffee (which is my favorite way). I will say though.. I absolutely HATE doing laundry.. specially folding it lol.

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    1. I tend to get my me time at the end of the day as that’s when everyone else is at work or in bed. I wish I could plan it in for a morning! The nature of my job is such that I can’t plan anything as in term time I’m always ‘on call’ so knowing my luck I’d plan a chill out and miss it because I’d get a call. I think prioritising is the best way to deal with jobs though!

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  3. Ah the washing pile. The sports kit that you find covered in mud at 10pm and you know needs to be clean by 7am the next day. The ironing pile which never goes down. Been there and got the T shirt. Strange to say this but enjoy every sock pairing, soon those little ones will be gone and you will miss the hustle and bustle and sheer hard work of being the Mum. I know I do.
    I have a list, well several. there is the monthly to do list, that includes appointments, birthdays, organising work on the house, like order logs, get chimney swept. Then there is the weekly plan of how that will fit in during the week, who needs to be where, and so what meals to prep. And some days I make a written plan too. And some days I don’t.

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    1. That’s very organised, I should do a monthly plan and then I wouldn’t end up sending birthday cards the day after a person’s special day! I am trying to enjoy It, I need to make some time every day for playing. Thank you 😊

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  4. I actually have a number of to-do lists- one master list, a list for work, a list for home (these two are decanted from the master list on a day-by-day basis, which means I usually get to finish my to-do lists!), and currently a Christmas crafting list. When all my Christmas to-dos are done, I get to create an idea of what I want to make next year πŸ™‚

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  5. I am a list writer! It is satisfying to tick/cross off a job done! and I keep a diary which the kiddos have learnt/been trained to write their events in (otherwise the driver may double book!).
    As for the washing fairy I wish they would come to my place. With 5 of the 6 in my house swimming some days the wash does pile up (I can do 6 or 7 loads a day). I have a house of want to be athletes, swimmers, swim teachers, runners, netballers, basketballers and dancers. I am sure there are a few other activities left off and those kind of clothes can’t sit around cause they well smell! Can you guess who doesn’t do any formal exercise? The person who walks the dog. And the lists in my house are never completed. I know one day I will be looking for things to do and will hopefully look back on these busy days with fondness (fingers crossed :))

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    1. Wow! You are a superhero dealing with all that. I struggle with washing for 4, but the delay timer on the washer is my friend and I use it to was early morning so I can hang it out straight away when we get up.

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      1. A timer on a domestic machine is a must! I have delay start on my washer, dishwasher, oven and microwave. Couldn’t manage without them πŸ™‚ I am sure there are many mums (and dads) around the world doing just the same as me.

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      2. My old washer didn’t have a timer, I didn’t realise they were so awesome until I got my new one! I’ve not tried delay on the oven but I do use the slow cooker a lot. I used the delay on the washer and went to open it but I must have pressed pause so I still had to wait for it to be done. That was a day for cake!

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  6. There’s an evil laundry fairy in my house. It comes in and moves 2-3 days worth of His Lordship’s dirty laundry from the basket onto the floor and creates arguments.

    I try to prioritise with my lists. I make one for a day off, and always have to include ‘make to do list’ so I can cross something off straight away!

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  7. I’m a list type of gal ~ currently I feel it’s wrote on the back of a roll of wallpaper it’s so long, and don’t even get me started on the washing ~ I have so much I’m sure there must be people living in my cottage that I’ve never met !!!

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  8. YES, a laundry fairy! I took up card making because I could finish a task (all of my other tasks as a stay at home Mom were perpetual – laundry, dishes, cleaning, etc – complete for a maximum of 2 seconds, then the cycle began again) and have something to show for it. Have a great day, Mrs. Craft!

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  9. Dearest Mrs. Craft, bless your beautiful heart.
    I now know and fully, totally, completely understand how my own mom could seemingly have at the very least three times the amount of time that I was ‘allowed’ when I became the mum of two girls. I now get it.

    My biggest tip… re-schedule. Move things around so that you get time to make memories with your little ones.
    Who cares if you’re all spending the day at home dressed in your jammies because there has been no washing done. Just tell anyone coming to the door that your house is on a Special Jammy Holiday – but don’t tell them why.
    Food … you’re right … they don’t care that they’re eating breakfast for tea. Or lunctime sandwiches. Or egg and oven chips. You’re filling their tummys and that’s what’s important.

    Jam Sandwiches. Banana Sandwiches. Even crisp sandwiches – I ate them when I was little and thought nothing of it. It was a luxury to little me!
    Fish Fingers in Hot Dog Rolls (maybe with a bit of salad to make it like a Mc.D’s thing)
    Home made Cottage Pie (made using a tin of minced beef in gravy and home cooked mashed potato on the top with a tiny bit of grated cheese)
    Steak Macarotti – another fabulous dish made using a tin of stewed steak in gravy from your store cupboard and macaroni (a recipe I’m more than willing to share if you wish …. I’ve been making this since 1983 and both of my grown up girls with children of their own, now make it to)

    Don’t sweat the the small stuff. And it’s all small stuff.

    You’re a fabulous mom Mrs. Craft. Your children love you and you do TONS that makes them totally happy.
    If you HAVE to clean the house – give them things to do which ‘help’.
    I found the use of a bell ringing timer a great help. I would give my girls a certain amount of time to clean up their rooms, and if they managed to clean up before the bell went, there would be a treat at the end of it. I’d put the timer down on the floor so that they could see the time going down …. and they would ROCK the world to beat that timer.

    Aw would you look at me trying to teach my grandma to suck eggs. LOL.
    You’re a great mom. You know all this already. πŸ™‚

    Sending ooodles of love and buckets of squidges ~ Cobs. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bless you, thank you for your tips. Even if we already ‘know’ something it’s easy for it to get buried in the depths of our busy brains and then we get bogged down. Your reminders have been very well timed, I like the timer idea. We use the oven timer occasionally when I get them to tidy their toys. Thank you again, this is why I love the blogging community x x

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  10. Did you evaluate my “list” style before writing this? Lately I have been an ostrich, burying my head and hoping things just get done πŸ˜‰. This is part of the reason I am ready for school to start, the floor might stay clean for ten minutes after I vacuum! πŸ˜‚πŸ˜Š Fun and true post!

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  11. Oh I do all of those at different times. I am very good at procrastinating too… especially in the school holidays when I don’t want to do any chores… it is holidays after all!!
    I do have a bullet journal though and I didn’t think I would keep doing it but I have.
    It’s not about beautiful page layouts and colouring in. It’s really just a book to keep your To Do lists in. I have skipped the odd week or even the odd month but then I have gone back to it. I guess it orders my thoughts and brings all the tasks into focus. It doesn’t mean I get it all done – I write things then ignore them too!!
    This term I might try including work in it as well – I like your prioritised lists 1,2 &3 idea. I know the things on my list 3 would rarely get done, but it formalises the prioritising.
    Thank you for your post it was really interesting – I love to know how people deal with these things as I find it a constant battle too.

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  12. When you are old and grey you will remember the time spent with your children, not the jobs you did, so at the top of every list the priority for the day should be “CHILDREN”, as long as you are all fed and clean (so 2nd and 3rd are COOKING AND LAUNDRY – sorry). anything else is a bonus if you get time.
    As for hubby if you and the children are happy there is a 99% chance he will be too. And remember no one died of too much dust.

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  13. I totally agree with you on the washing, we’re only 2 and still need to get it done almost twice a week. How does that even happen? I try to do some jobs on a daily basis so that they don’t accumulate and the more time consuming ones get done on the weekend. I’m pretty sure things will get harder with kids though!

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