Updated: Dec 10, 2019
**HEAD OVER TO THE "FILES" TAB FOR THE FREE PRINTABLE PDF!** (Titled "My Get-To-Do List")
So, I wish I was one of those moms who consistently stuck with a solid routine. I have a great respect for those moms that keep a tight schedule, arrive early to library story times, have their meals all planned and prepped, and who keep their days organized. But I've yet to be her.
We have what I call a "loose schedule". I've never been one to live my days according to a rigid itinerary. If it works for you then that's awesome--keep it up! For me, though, I find myself always falling short and ultimately getting stressed out because of it.
However, kids do SO WELL when there's a pretty reliable schedule in place. So I had to give a little. But rather than completely abandoning my fly-by-night ways, I decided to search for a balance--one gave my kids a trustworthy and enriching routine, while also allowing myself some room for wiggling and spontaneity.
No days are exactly the same for us. Especially with two kids under two and a half! Plans fall through, tantrums lead to incomplete errands, and unexpected naps (yet desperately needed) cause us to turn back home instead of going to the park. Sure some days I say, "To hell with the nap let's go play"--and others I say, "There is no way I'm touching that baby."
Nonetheless, there is somewhat of a loose schedule throughout the week. Reece wakes, eats, plays, naps, and basically rinse, wash, repeat until bedtime.
Charlie is a little more unpredictable. She wakes up and naps at a different time every day. With her I've learned her schedule is more of a window of timing rather than specific timing. For instance, she'll go down for a nap anywhere between 10-3, depending on so many different factors.
And it works for us. I don't force them to endure my rushed expectations of daily life, nor do I give them full reign of the day's trajectory. I work with them and they put up with my errands and chores and corny adventure ideas.
Little give and a little take.
So, yeah, each day is pretty similar in that we squeeze in naps, clean the house, do our shopping, and always, always play and adventure. However, the specifics, the quantity of time spent on each of those things, and the order in which they happen are all unique to each day.
Being a stay-at-home mom, there's lots to do and just not enough time to do it. Well, I guess that's pretty much the same for everyone! I realized I was getting stressed when almost every night I was stuck with this feeling of incompleteness. Like I forgot to do something or didn't do enough of another.
Besides keeping up with the house, the errands, the cooking, the finances, I also needed to take care of two children. And not just keep them alive but to nourish and teach them, too. I am helping Reece with developmental exercises that coincide with your typical 7-month-old. And then with Charlie, I am teaching her anything from manners to the alphabet to numbers to just getting her to eat her lunch without a full-blown tantrum.
Not to mention I try to get in a little self-care time. Seriously getting stressed out thinking about all this!
With that being said, I knew I needed to get more organized. I needed to have a little bit of a plan for the week, so that I didn’t waste time stressing about inadequacy or go around doing last minute preparations for last minute decisions. I needed to give a little.
So I wrote up this little template that underlies our “loose schedule.” These are our priorities: meals, at-home learning, worldly adventures, and my own personal growth.
That last one is super important. Well, they’re all important, but self-care is often something we overlook as parents. We get so caught up in taking care of our children that we kind of forget that we need it, too.
That’s the purpose of the “Growth Goals” section at the top of the template. If we aren’t tending to our needs (getting time to ourselves, going out with friends, or just a 20-minute meditation) then we can’t be the best version of ourselves for our kids. So when you are feeling guilty for taking this “me-time,” DON’T! You work hard, you love hard, you deserve it.
And quite frankly our kids need us to go get refreshed so we can have more love, patience, and energy for them.
So, each week I write out which things I want to work on or grow in for myself. Is it patience, less anger, more kid’s activities, exercise? Even if you write “Patience,” every week, that’s okay! I just think it’s uber doober important to recognize our needs, desires, and goals.
And for the kids, I put so much time during the day just figuring out what to feed them, where to take them, and packing up our adventure bags. And what I most often feel guilty about is, “Did I teach Charlie enough? Should we have done more activities? Would a daycare have done more with her?” I bombard myself with these midnight inquiries that keep me from peaceful sleep.
It was time to put an end to this stress and plan out these things before the next morning arrives. And boy does it save time and worry.
I’ll set aside an hour every week to fill this paper out. To look online for community events for kids, to plan out our meals (for us and the kids), to plan out some creative at-home learning activities (which I can work on at night after the kids go to bed), and to ponder about what kinds of things I personally aim to accomplish (or just practice!).
And I saved the best for last. There’s an area to post some inspirational Bible verses or favorite quotes (or even just word you need to repeat to yourself). This is so whenever you’re having a tough day or lacking that drive, these written reminders can really help you get the ball rolling and back into a positive frame of mind.
For the end of each week, I’ve added a sheet of paper for us to journal down our thoughts about the week that has transpired, as well as hopes for the one about to begin. I mean, you can write about whatever you want!
But, for me, I’ve been documenting memories, jotting down business ideas, writing down mistakes made and lessons learned, and scribbling little reminders for the “Get-To-Do List.” This section will hopefully one day amount to a physical recount of my personal growth, one week at a time. My goal is that it helps us work on ourselves, while also taking the time to remember all those little, adorable things that we might one day forget.
To-do Lists are things that are never fully finished. Things get checked off, but we usually just add them right back on the next day. Also, it can be stressful to look down at a piece of paper and see all the things you’ve yet to do.
Don’t get me wrong, I love me a good list. I seriously write them for everything, as you probably know from my podcasts and recent posts. But I want to refine this idea of having to get life done. It’s just too stressful to live my life for the next thing to be crossed off. If I judge the worth of my days according to how much I can get done, one: I’m always in a rush. And two, life becomes a task.
So here is not the daunting “To-Do List,” but rather the “Get-To-Do List.” These are things I get to do. That I’m blessed to be able to do. These are the contents of a very sporadic, yet very beautiful life that I am so honored to live and be a part of.