Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Already Done List




I was behind schedule.  I felt overwhelmed.  I pushed myself to hurry.  I couldn’t believe I was lagging like this.  I had meant to get so much more done.  I looked at the clock for the tenth time that day.

It was 7:00 a.m.

Crazy.

At 9:30 I entered my office at work, sat down at my desk and took a deep breath.  I had a full day ahead of me and yet I sat there, feeling like I was already behind.

Now, I believe in the power of a to-do list.  I make one when I feel like I need to get organized, get a lot accomplished, and generally see in black and white what I need to get done.

That morning, I was just about to make a to-do list for myself but then I stopped.  There I was about to “begin” my day and I was feeling behind and tired already.  I took a minute and instead of a to-do list I decided to instead write an “Already Done” list for the morning. 

Here’s what it looked like:
Got up.
Ate breakfast.
Read the paper.
Read about twenty blogs and commented on most.
Wrote e-mails to my family.
Texted a friend.
Walked the dog for three miles.
Showered.
Got dressed.
Fixed hair and make-up.
Made lunch and packed it up.
Straightened up house.
Ordered present from Amazon.
Checked bank account.
Had long talk with dog about not tearing up the house while I am at work.
Drove to school.

I sat there, looked at that list, and for once, I gave myself some credit for all I had done already that day instead of beating myself up for not getting enough done.  It felt great and maybe it’s just a coincidence, but I went on to have a very productive day at work as well.

I think about those years when I was a working mom, when I had to get two little ones off to their schools in the morning.  All those things I had to do and had to remember!  I got kids up and fed, packed lunches and backpacks, and got everyone dressed and ready for the day.  We had a cat who liked to steal socks and place them underneath the family van in the garage, so many mornings you could find me belly-crawling under the van to get one or two matching (sometimes matching) socks.  My head spins when I think about all I did before I went to “work.”  

One morning when Evan was about five years old, I had everything packed up and ready to go.  It had been a hectic morning.  I looked at the clock.  If I was lucky, I could deliver the kids to their schools and still get to work on time.  I hiked my bags on my shoulders and glanced down to see Evan, standing there with his shoes untied. 

As I bent down to tie them, the bags fell down, and off my shoulders. Ouch.  Grrr.  I felt myself getting frustrated. As I tied his shoes, I felt his little boy hands on either side of my head.  “There goes the hairdo” was my first thought.  Then he said, “You have a very busy brain this morning, Mommy.” 

He squeezed my head and I felt those sweet little hands curving perfectly around my skull.  I raised my head, my eyes level with his from my kneeling position and looked into his blue eyes. Suddenly, I was  no longer overwhelmed by time constraints but instead overwhelmed with gratitude at being able to be at that place, at that time, with this dear little person.

I think about all my nieces and friends who are young mothers.  They carry so much on their shoulders and need to be reminded of all they do even before the official workday begins.

That work matters.

So this is for you, Carrie M, Trisha, Amanda, Alyssa, Jillian, Carrie F, Rebecca and all the other young mothers out there.   Make that “Already Done” list this morning and feel proud of all you have accomplished.  Maybe you’ve made breakfasts.  Maybe you’ve made lunches.  Maybe you’ve made the bed.  Heck, maybe you’ve simply made a path to the bed.  That’s OK!  Celebrate it.  Above all, you’ve made life easier for someone else and that’s worth putting at the top of the list.




    

34 comments:

Dina Lettre said...

I really love this concept!

Shelly said...

Ahh, this was beautiful. So loved it!

Olga said...

What a perceptive young man. This is a wonderful idea. I am passing it along to my daughter--newly single mother of two kids.

Slamdunk said...

Good advice Betty. Our kids have given me a dose of reality before when I was wrapped up in my "important" list of to-dos. It had a powerful impact on me as well.

Linda said...

What a precious gift Evan gave you on that long-ago morning, and what a precious gift you are giving to your nieces and other young mothers today.

Leah J. Utas said...

Yes. So true. Celebrate what you've done and where you are.

Deanna said...

Beautifully said. I've been known to include things I've already done to my daily to-do list just so I can check something off right away. :)

thesweetsimplethings said...

What a wonderful post! Sometimes I look back at those days and wonder how I got it all done. Some days I just needed to step back and look at what I did get done. And some days I needed to step back and just appreciate my precious children and try not to rush us all through our days.
~Laura (formerly of A Simple Happy Life)

Momma Fargo said...

What a great idea, Betty! Hooray for making women powerful! You are da BOMB!

Out on the prairie said...

Such a lovely thought, we sometimes worry too much what is ahead of us, and forget what we really have done.I laughed at a friend saying their alarm was set wrong the other day.I haven't used mine in over a year.

Furry Bottoms said...

Hmm an already done list! I'm gonna have to try that sometime!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Betty .. we often forget what we've done don't we .. and I love your story about Evan's hands on your head .. a dear beautiful memory ..

This should bring us all back to earth .. lovely .. cheers Hilary

jenny_o said...

A VERY important reminder, Betty. Modern life can get so crazy. We need to stop and realize how much we are accomplishing.

Pat Tillett said...

That is a great idea! It is very nice to get a sense of accomplishment now and then. I made "to do" lists for ever and really only got frustrated instead of getting things done.

Daisy said...

Nice idea and post! There's always more to do and not enough time to do it in. An already done list could give anyone a boost and sense of accomplishment.

Phyllis E. said...

Hi Betty,

I found your blog thru my cousin Hilary's Smitten Image. I love the concept of an Already Done list. What a great idea! And your boy's "busy brain" observation was priceless. You've given me a morning two-fer (two smiles for one visit.

Cheers!
Phyllis

Brian Miller said...

ha sometimes we do need that encouragement to show ourselves what we really have done that day...because it def does not always come out as we plan it...

Trisha Dawn said...

Literally took a break from my to do list to read this- perfect timing! Thanks!

Madi and Mom said...

Absolutely beautiful post BB.
You accomplished enough before work to call it a day.

Evan bless his heart. out of the mouths of babes some the sweetest things.
Hugs Madi and Mom

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I think we've just grown accustomed to trying to cram too much into our days. It's all about producing rather than enjoying.

Mamma has spoken said...

Agree! Reflection is a great thing even more when you write it down.

Kazzy said...

I am at the point where accomplishing two or three major things a day is just fine with me!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I remember those days of getting four little people and myself ready for the day. How did we do it?
I constantly empathize with the young mother working in my department. It is s job for the young.

Gigi said...

Where were you (and blogging) when mine was small? I sure could have used that dose of wisdom more than once or twice.

Chuck said...

If I had done all that before work...I would have called it a day and gone back to bed. You SHOULD be proud of your Already Done list!

Hilary said...

You write with such inspiration. Your wee Evan just melted my heart these many years later. I can tell it was still a defining moment in your life.

Lin said...

I remember one morning, when before 7:00 a.m. I had been through 3 changes of clothes--thanks to the babies I was raising. Yep, those were hard days, but never has work EVER been as hard or fulfilling. I go to work to rest.

:)

Go moms!

Miriam in KS said...

Thank you for the post. Bless your boy for having the words you needed on that morning not so long ago. (Really, it was only a "minute" ago, right?)

YrHmblHst said...

You are correct - 'That work' ; that of raising a child and caring for them, matters. The 9 to 5 stuff is really of no consequence.
Prioritisation...

Pat said...

This was so refreshing and totally true! I'm sending my daughter this a link to this post! :)

Leanne said...

Absolutely LOVE this, Betty. I can't tell you how many mornings I feel like I've just been through a marathon . . . all by 8:30AM. (Yes, I can tell . . . but let's just forge ahead, shall we.) SO many times I've felt it, and so many times my girls have done something similar to what you young son did - to pull me back into what really matters.

I love the "Already Done" list. I think I need to write one today.

Much love, dear! XO

Mimi said...

I love that story of your little boy, and thankfully you were able to listen to him, and not be impatient with him for untying the laces!
Being a "working" Mom is so challenging, but the more important part of the job is what happens before and after the paid job. No company, no economy, can be more important than the people we are raining, helping to grow, who will be the next generation.
Thank you for reminding me of that!

Domestic Bella said...

Thank you so much for this. I needed the reminder that I'm not alone, as well as a kick to cut myself some slack. When your litte boy cupped your face and put into words how you were feeling I teared up a bit. You are one lucky mama!

Baby Sister said...

That is such a sweet story of Evan!! It's amazing to me how much little children really do see.