Mummy Mondays - a to-do list for your to-do lists!

Monday, 20 October 2014

Do you ever feel like you just can't do it all?

There's just too much to do. Not enough time.

Sometimes, Jellybean comes toddling up to me to get my attention and she will tug on my jeans and call 'Mum, mum, mum, mum!'. That's how I imagine the various pressures in my head at any given time. Dozens of hands, tugging me, each pulling in different directions. 'Hey! Hey! I need you!' Because it's impossible to be just a mother. You also have to be, depending on your home set-up, a wife or partner. A sister. A daughter. A friend. A professional, dedicated to your career. You have to be a cleaner, an entertainer, an organizer, a budgeter, a cook, an events planner, a counsellor, a mediator, a shoulder to cry on. It feels like a lot. Because it is a lot.

*I feel I should add a disclaimer here: the oven was not switched on!*

I am a list writer, but the biggest to-do list is in my head. It keeps getting bigger. And bigger. And suddenly, the to-do list starts to shape and define not just my life, but who I am. I wonder on those particularly bad to-do list days: have I actually stopped to think about anything other than the next place to be, the next deadline, the next task to complete? Have I stopped to even be aware of what's happening around me? To give thanks?

Here are three things that I am writing out to remind myself when I start to feel my to-do lists taking over me, a to-do list to rule them all ;)

Do you know what? That's okay. The things will be there tomorrow. Also, sometimes, things have to be done at the same time as other things. You can't always be 100% focused and attentive to your child, savouring each moment with them - because you have other responsibilities. That's fine. As long as you know they're safe, they will learn to play independently without you watching their every move. Doesn't make you a bad mother. Doesn't mean you don't appreciate your child - and that they don't appreciate you. The way I see it, there are moments for tea-parties and block-building, but there are also moments for phone-call making and appointment scheduling and toilet-cleaning. That's just life. Which brings me to point #2:

If you feel guilty about something, take a moment to consider it. Is this something to be concerned about? Guilt is sometimes a good prompt to make a slight adjustment, to make a change, or to reorganize your priorities. I call this functional guilt. ;) If it's pointless guilt about how you didn't manage to put that load of washing on, then let it go. No-one will give you a medal for having a list of uncompleted household tasks and feeling guilty about it. And chances are your other half/children won't care if it gets done anyway

Does that sound corny? I'm sorry. But I am guilty of being far too sarcastic and cynical, and I'm trying to, you know, stop that. Life is beautiful! Don't feel guilty about not appreciating every second - to-do list days are too crazy and busy to 'be mindful' of everything. But if you go to bed at night with your heart and mind racing when you should be resting, I challenge you to do this:

Stop it!

Instead, think about a beautiful thing that happened to you today.

They can be small (the unexpected presence of chocolate) or big (a heartfelt conversation, a stunning sunset on your drive home from work, a breakthrough at work or in a relationship). They don't have to be written down or very well-formed. Just a brief thought. Like the way your child leant into you while you chatted to another mother at soft play, a moment of brief reconnection in the midst of play. The way it feels to be curled up on the sofa, drinking ginger and lemon tea, and listening to the rain pour outside. The way your husband made you snort with laughter because he made a hilarious but kind of inappropriately timed joke.

Small things. But nice nonetheless.

Appreciating the beauty in life doesn't have to be reserved for exotic, far-flung places, or for Important Life Events. Ann Voskamp puts it like this in her excellent book 1,000 Gifts:

'Isn't it here? The wonder? Why do I spend so much of my living hours struggling to see it? Do we truly stumble so blind that we must be affronted with blinding magnificence for our blurry soul-sight to recognize grandeur? The very same surging magnificence that cascades over our every day here. Who has time or eyes to notice?'

We do. We do.

The truth is, life is really complicated and busy and chaotic and sometimes all you can do is just grit your teeth and get on with it. That's okay. But to-do lists don't have a place running through your head in the small hours. I have to learn, instead, to embrace the day that has just been, the beauty in normality ... and to remember I am not superwoman.

I hope you all have a good week :)

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