To Do List

Gaining Control While Not Forgetting The Important Things

Back To School Tsunami Claims Life Of Local Mother: Full Story At 11

I have been severely overwhelmed by obligations and finances in the wake of the Back To School Hurricane. Do you feel like you’ve been run over by a truck full of #2 pencils, sandwich bags, and lunchboxes? Because I do. Between registration fees and participation fees and supplies and clothes for three kids in three schools and three sets of hobbies…I’ve written about $800 worth of checks for extra stuff this month. I don’t know about you – but we don’t just have $800 extra in our monthly budget.

To Do ListNeedless to say – I’ve been a wee bit stressed.

Yesterday I started feeling overwhelmed and I bit off everyone’s heads in the morning before we all went our separate ways. E needed two MORE check for school, Nikki was complaining about her lunch, Donnie needs some tri gear and Wes doesn’t WANT to go to school! It took everything out of me not to put aside the “No Diet Coke” and “No Beer” efforts and chug both…RIGHT THERE at 7am in my kitchen.

I’m Not Even Doing The Important Stuff – Like Spending Quality Time With My Family

I did my thing at work, zoned out in some code, and then used my lunch break to come home and try to organize a few key areas in my life without kids and husbands in my ear reminding me of everything they need. I decided that I was getting so wrapped up in the day to day business of raising a family, that I was missing out on the joys of raising a family. So I was getting stressed and I was missing out on the de-stressors I use most in my life: Family Time.

I decided to sit down and try to make a list of what every day should contain to help me A) Keep control of the business of family life while also B) Making sure I don’t forget to do the things that keep me from stressing out about that family life.

The Permanent To Do List

  • Set my 3 Most Important Tasks in the morning. I found this idea at, I think. Decide before the day gets going what the three most important things to get done are for that day, that way you at least do those three. Today? Register E’s new car, packet pickup, signs for our race tomorrow.
  • Completely process digital communications twice a day. That means make sure I’ve responded to all necessary emails, text messages, Facebook messages or Tweets. If I don’t respond to it during one of those two times (morning and evening) then it’s not important and I need to clear it out and not think about it anymore.
  • Touch based with friends/family in need once a day. This is one of those things that I slack on that bothers me. I’ll know a friend is struggling and wish I had time to catch up; but since I can’t allow a big chunk of time I just let it slide. I have friends who DON’T do that…they’ll at least touch base with a text message or something. And that doesn’t take ANY time. I need to be better about doing that because it means so much to me when my friends do it for me.
  • Exercise 20 minutes every day. I do this most days but on the days I don’t have boot camp or a run scheduled, I don’t do ANYTHING and I need to find backup activities to do at home because I always feel like crap those days I do nothing.
  • Write every day. Blog entries. Books. Notes to friends. Anything.
  • De-clutter life for 15 minutes. This can be going through the pile of papers the kids brought home to cleaning out one shelf in the garage. But every day, before bed or early in the morning, I want to look around my life and find one area immediately in need of de-cluttering. Some of it will help with the current business of life (keeping up with school papers etc.) and some of it will help me on some long-term goals or organizing areas of our house. 15 minutes every day can really make a huge difference and allow me to make tiny steps to big goals.
  • Eat fresh fruits or veggies every day. I’m not naive. I’m not going to act like I can do BOTH every day. Especially once soccer/theatre/school gets really swinging. But I’m going to try to do my best to eat something fresh every day. I think it will help my body to improve my nutrition.
  • Read 20 minutes every day. My “To Read” list is getting bigger and bigger. Lately I’ve been squeezing in books at the top of the list (“Middlesex” which E is reading and “Gone Girl” which is my next book club book) just pushing down the books that have been on the list forever. Therefore I never actually make progress on my list. I’m really enjoying “The Night Circus” but it’s taking me FOREVER to finish it. Who knows how many other books I’ll be squeezing in before I finish this one. I love reading so much I need to make sure I squeeze it in for at least a small chunk of every day.
  • One-on-one time with each family member. I was really disturbed when I sat down and thought about how long it had been since I had any one-on-one time with Wes. Sometimes E is the one that gets the short end of the stick, but mostly it’s Wes. I want to make sure I set aside time, even if it’s a 5-minute visit to E’s room while he does homework, to check in with everyone about their days…every day.

Local Mom Finally Gets Her Shit Together: Story At 11

So…I did all of this yesterday and guys? I already feel better. I have more of a handle on the business side of life (although we’re still totally broke for the next 6 weeks – please don’t let anything come up that costs money) and I got more of my “BOOST” type of stuff in: Time with the kids, exercise, reading to help me cope with stress.

Am I going to sit down every day and give myself a frowny face if I don’t do every one of these things? No. But I am going to keep them as a permanent To Do list because the combination of Life Maintenance and Life Affirming tasks will keep me from losing my DAMN MIND this year, which I’m already on the road to doing. I mean – my normal life is hectic enough on it’s own. But this year will also involve all of the “GET MY KID TO COLLEGE” type of stuff with deadlines and college visits and the selling of vital organs…I need to do everything I can to get a handle on the scheduling and my stress levels so that I don’t require sedation and hospitalization sometime in mid-February.


  • Ashley

    i swear all these crazy financial unexpected things always come up in the sept-nov months before christmas when i need to be spending money on kids christmas presents but cant cause school needs this or i needed 2 roots cancals for $900 ugh!!! Wheres the money tree when you need it??

  • Cara

    Good plan. When I first saw your list, I thought ‘oh no, she’s going to stress herself out more with overly ambitious plans’. But, you really aren’t adding that much time to your day, but instead focusing it. And I’m totally stealing a few of those, even though our lives are in completely different places. (15 minutes of decluttering, here I come.)

    So, I’ll try to return the favor by sharing a couple of ideas you’ve given me. I am going to stock up on easily transportable fruits/veggies (baby carrots? apples?) that can be eaten even on the days I need to pick up food and eat on the go? So, have that burger and fries, or whatever, but also a handful of carrots. I haven’t done that in years, but it was my go to trick when I was a high school theatre geek. And then the other one is to combine exercise and time with My kid. As a stay at home with a partner who works long hours, its the time to exercise thats harder, but the idea is the same. My two year old would love to do stretches, jumping jacks and the like with me. And I can visit with her during a brisk walk, if I can convince her to ride in the stroller. And, I’m going to get serious about haunting Craig’s list for a bike seat, so we can do our local errands on the bike, getting in my exercise and having fun together at the same time.

    Sounds like a plan. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • EmilysHollow

    This is brilliant. I’ve only got 1 kiddo, and not in FT school, but it definitely seems like The Business and Stress is already ratcheting up. I love the idea of setting your 3 top tasks for the day.

  • junkie

    read “middlesex” a million years ago…it’s wonderful. read “gone girl” last week…SO WONDERFUL! you’ll love them both.

    you know me…i think we should ALWAYS find time to read, even if we don’t have smokes in our hands and diet coke in our bellys to go with it anymore!

    (sorry, though…i’m still holding on to the DC with an unbreakable grip! 🙂

  • Tracy

    This is such a good way to focus your time. I’ve been working on a time map for awhile, trying to schedule every waking hour and one of the reasons I haven’t finished it is I’m bristling at how constricting it would be to actually follow it. I have so much (too much) I want and need to do, it’s hard to get it all in. I like how you have a small number of goals you’ve prioritized. I think I need the discipline of assigning those priorities to times, but I definitely think my time map would be easier to complete if I better prioritized my goals.