Thoughts on How I'm Managing the To-Do List and What Love has to do with It

There are two things that make me feel like I'm rocking this gigue as a stay-at-home-mom:

1. Spending quality time with my kids
2. Keeping a clean house

It's a travesty that the two parts of my job naturally work against one another.  Most days I feel like I'm drowning in responsibility: so much to get done, so many places to be.  And though I have a very yellow personality--I have a very happy go-lucky attitude--I'm also part red--I thrive on organization and routine.

I noticed a little while ago that I started equating my sense of productivity and worth by how much I accomplished in a day.  "See!  I folded four loads of laundry, mopped the kitchen floor, made the bed, took out the trash, called about that thing, AND took the kids to the park."  Honestly, I was exhausting myself.  And life wasn't much fun; it was stressful.  I started lamenting about how I didn't get to that one thing that was on my "list" that day.  I deemed myself a failure because I didn't have time to scrub the toilet or I forgot to call the dentist to make an appointment.

It was so silly!  My kids love me just the way I am.  And Bron knows I always try my best and that's plenty good enough for him.  I simply wasn't being enough for me.

That's when I remembered my mom's advice when I brought home Levi: "Keep your expectations low."  And then my Grandpa's instruction came to mind, "Get the important things done first in the day.  The rest can wait till tomorrow.  And some things, you'll never get to." 

The hard truth is that our lives are defined by ordinary everyday actions and moments: taking the time to pray, reacting with kindness instead of harshness, practicing an instrument, etc.  Small consistent efforts like exercising 20 minutes every day can reap huge benefits in just a few weeks!

I resolved then and there to make my to-do list shorter, to minimize distractions that waste my time (ahem, social media), to "roll with the punches" and not stress over un-done tasks.  After all, it can usually be done tomorrow.  All I really have is today; I should make it count.

And that's where I had a personal light bulb suddenly illuminate.  Making my day count means working towards my personal goals, but more importantly, making sure my family knows that I love them.

Que The Five Love Languages: Receiving Gifts, Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Physical Touch, and Quality Time. 

Bron thrives on physical touch and quality time.  I could go into much greater detail about how I show Bron love, but the bottom line is that over the course of our marriage I have learned that I need to stop what I'm doing to really listen to him: to stop editing pictures in the evening so that we can cuddle, to forgo the sink of dishes to just be with him.  (And for you moms of young children out there you know that can be a sacrifice!  There are often fleeting windows of opportunity: The kids are fed, they're happy.  Hurry!  Fill the dishwasher before someone poops his pants!)

The epiphany is that when I take the time and effort to fill Bron's "tank",  my list of responsibilities still get done--one way or another.  Sometimes a chore is pushed off till the next day, but most of the time, most of the time Bron jumps in to help me.  Occasionally, he even cleans the entire kitchen himself--which speaks to my "acts of service" heart!

He feels loved.  I feel loved.  It's a win-win.

So the age-old advice about putting marriage first and everything else falling into place is really true!  I just wish it hadn't taken me nearly eight years to put this all together myself.  Good gracious, I married an amazing man.  And I am a lucky mother to two of the world's sweetest and wildest boys.  I am determined to devote my whole heart to these three boys of mine.  I want them to know without a shadow of a doubt that I love them and I want to show them every day.

Everything else will get done in between.

 ^^The little boys' first real kite flying experience a couple of weeks ago.  The excitement and grins were totally worth the $12 spent a hundred times over.^^


  1. So true. I too feel like it's been a good day when I can ramble off a list of 4 or 5 things that I accomplished in the day. But are those the most important and life-fullfilling things? Or just a never ending always growing list to tackle? I think finding balance has been the biggest motherhood challenge for me. So much pressure to do it all! Thanks for the reminder to slow down a little bit.

  2. This so spot on. I too learned a while back how crucial it is to put our marriages first. But I am always looking for more real life ways to do that. Jake is also physical touch and so I am definitely going to try spending more time just with him after the kids are in bed rather than my list of to-do's. Oh and that article you posted on Facebook today was exactly what I needed! I've had sick kids the past week and I'm not getting anything done. So I've decided to make taking care of sickos "my job" and let the rest go. I. Any wait to apply that mentality for all sorts of things that come up!

  3. Beautiful photos! Although I do not have a husband, I do agree with everything you're saying about to do lists and being with your kids. I used to make these long to do lists each day and would get all stressed (and quite angry/mean) when I didn't get to finish them. Now I make week lists, and keep them simple and realistic, and spend more time with my daughter. And guess what? when I spend more time with her she creates less of a mess because we are doing it together... so it really shortens my cleaning list haha. I also have been changing to more of a minimalist approach to my home and that certainly simplifies cleaning!

  4. Good points to ponder. We can all use help like this.
    I do love the pictures of flying the kite. I am glad that you guys are doing this with the boys. It was one of my favorite things to do with my boys. Hope you remember that Bron.

  5. Oh Jessie, I always struggle with balance. You are so right to make kids and marriage first. I have to admit that I have a very disorganized home on most days. It bothers me, but I keep reminding myself that Lewie will only be little once. I don't want him to remember me cleaning on my days off; I want him to remember me as the fun mom that took him to a carnival and played tag with him in the front yard. Life is so very precious; I know you're enjoying it to the core and teaching your children to also. The chores can wait...


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