I’m a list-lover. As someone who highly values productivity, the sight of a crossed-off list can be quite the rush for me. My daddy is the same way. Many of my early memories include him jotting tasks on a crinkled paper and pausing throughout the day to gleefully strike through an item.
Writing lists is a great way to be intentional about how you spend your time. Capturing priorities on paper for the day helps to create a target for what should be accomplished.
For mamas of young ones though, writing lists can also be mildly to wildly frustrating. Because you know what? My children’s priorities don’t usually match up with mine. Shocking, I know. So throughout the day when their realities clash with my all-important list, I perceive it as an interruption and generally that’s when things turn sour.
It’s painful to admit, but mommy isn’t very patient with inconveniences like potty accidents when we have an appointment to make. I’m not as appreciative of their Lego creations and hearing their thoughts when I see their excited outbursts as interruptions.
Then again, the list has to rule at times because dinner still must be made. Letters must be sent. Household tasks must be completed in order for life to continue smoothly.
So how on earth do you reconcile getting stuff done—crossing items off the list—while also prioritizing children’s hearts so they are seen, valued, taught in important matters? Such is the forever dilemma of busy mamas. I want to be productive, but I also want to be present.
I create a mommy-friendly to-do list every day by building in my children’s needs into my list. My morning lists include tangible actions and overall reminders to care for my children’s hearts. That way, as I glance at my list throughout the day, I realign my next steps with their needs. Also, I score the thrill of crossing off an item.
I create a mommy-friendly to-do list every day by building in my children’s needs into my list.
Write your children’s needs on your daily list
It works like this: The first two lines on my daily lists are 1) Quiet Time and 2) Care for kids’ hearts. This way, right out of the gate, I “accomplish” (or at least am aware of the daily need for) self care and the most important aspect of rearing children: their hearts. Writing “Care for kids’ hearts” at the very top of my list reminds me that although I may need to grocery shop or clean the bathroom, stopping and holding eye contact while they tell me how far they just jumped is equally important.
These young years are demanding. That’s an understatement; they are suck-everything-out-of-you-debilitating at times. They are also the foundational years of my children’s upbringing. I don’t want to merely “get through”. I don’t want to push through my days on my own agenda, viewing my tiny human gifts as peripheral to my real tasks. They are more valuable than that. I want to be able to say that I invested my best. That I prioritized their hearts in these little years even as I feel the pull to get stuff done.
When I see “Care for kids’ hearts” on the list, I remember that laughing at a silly joke is one way to make them feel valued. I remember to pause in my day to wipe a tear or linger in a needed snuggle. I remember that having an eye-to-eye discussion in discipline is worth my time when sometimes I’d rather simply assign a time out and move on with my day.
Back to the list. After “Quiet time” and “Care for kids’ hearts” usually come reasonable action items which support prioritizing my children during the day. These lines usually look like one or two of the following:
- Read x books to them
- Play a game with them
- Bake cookies with them
- Help them complete their preschool workbook pages
- Play outside or go to a park
- Coach through chores
- Devotional time
- Potty training
Writing things like “potty training” may seem ridiculous to some, but for a lister like me it helps me to remember that potty training whichever kid needs it at the time is important and is NOT an interruption. Because it’s on the list! 😉 Therefore, at the end of the day after washing x pairs of undies and cleaning up so many messes, I can still cross that item off. Whew. Another day down.
The rest of my mommy-friendly to-do list usually holds relatively small, easy-to-accomplish personal tasks because I know that my productivity in the classic sense is limited.
Someday my role as mother won’t be so hands-on intense. Maybe then my lists will look different.
These days writing simple reminders and easy action items that help me to prioritize molding my children’s hearts is how I hold my own agenda loosely.
For I know that the day I can plow through my own to-do list with minimal interruptions will be the day I wish my daughter was back on my hip.
What about you? How do you solve the productivity-present puzzle in your everyday?