I love a good task list, and boy do I love a good long term goal, so bring it on! Who are we kidding, I like daily goals, too — any goal that I can jot down and later check off, or, my preference, mark with a fluorescent pink highlighter as COMPLETED just makes me beam with pride. Admittedly, I have found myself a slave to my to-do list, and so have some of you. Well, there are a lot of things to get done in any given day, no arguing that. However, is everything on our task lists REALLY necessary, or does motherhood make us feel so out of control that ticking off every box on our daily to-do list is the one thing that makes us feel in control? For me, it is the latter. I have no problem getting things done. You see, I love to work and receive praise and adoration for a job well done. It’s in my blood. This worked really well for me growing up, in school and on every job I ever had from sixteen on. Then I got married and had children, and guess what? The accolades I was used to receiving for my work were suddenly few and far between. Hmm . . .
To compensate for this lack of affirmation, I started making even grander lists so that I could, at least, internally, feel somewhat accomplished and good about myself. What’s more, because I detested the thought that other mothers might supersede me, I spent a full year adding crazy things to my list throughout the day, walking around the house searching for more chores to do. Absurd, right? ABSOLUTELY! Needless to say, one day I just “crashed” mentally because the pressure to “do it all” was taking its toll. In addition to taking on more at home, I took on more at church, in the community and at work because I was so worried that the outside world would think that I didn’t do anything all day except stay at home with my kids; therefore, I was desperate to prove I was achieving each and every day, albeit my way.
While baking banana bread for shut ins, cleaning out the attic, and planning church events, guess the one task I wasn’t doing really well? Loving my children, THE SOLE REASON, I chose to leave my rather lucrative job and remain at home. I neglected them because they did not praise me like I believed I was due, I filled my time up with doing for others who would. Sure, I loved on my girls, showed them genuine interest at times, and oh, kept them dry, fed and safe, so I could tick off those boxes and feel satisfied that I did a good job that day, but that was missing the point. Satan wanted me to be all consumed with activities that were not bad, in and of themselves, but at what cost? My family, my girls, slowed me down so it was difficult to complete everything on my “precious” list. Instead of viewing time with them as number one, I was angry because they prevented me from accomplishing my self-assigned, daily “mission.”
Ladies, I know there are basic chores and errands that we simply must do to provide for the primary needs of our families and ourselves, and that is alright. I simply encourage you to free yourself as slave to your to-do list. Do not measure your self- worth by having dusted all the blinds that day (or not dusted them). I am so guilty of doing so and struggle with you in this. It is so hard for me to “just” be a mom and let other things go. Thankfully, my husband truly believes that taking care of the girls and our family is by far the best thing I do. Since I am Type A, I am, indeed, a “worker bee,” which takes pressure off him and lightens his load, and he is grateful. No doubt he was the man God planned for me to marry because frequently, he just hugs me and tells me, “ It’s okay; you are more than what you highlighted today.” I am blessed.
To wrap up, when you feel underachieved and undervalued, I urge you to remember that you, too, are more than what you highlighted on any given day. Our Heavenly Father created us to work, but he also created us to enjoy rest and recreation. Starting today, re-evaluate and consider real needs as opposed to unrealistic emotions, and I promise that completing a few really important tasks well will feed your soul more than tackling a mountain of random goals.
Psalm 91:17 May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us— yes, establish the work of our hands.
Real Life Hacks:
- Start with three tasks a day, and try to keep your “must do” to these three things. Keep in mind that these can change, so if you add one, take another off.
- If possible, schedule errands in chunks of time to be executed in one day vs. lots of mini trips throughout the week.
- Involve your children. If a chore is going to the grocery store, take them with you. Let them help you meal plan, and look for items in the store.
- Think about goals for your family as a whole and set three to five goals you would like your family to accomplish that year. It could be more walks or outings or more daily Bible reading. Do not allow trivial, daily chores keep your family from accomplishing long-term goals.
- Do not put things on your list that you are going to do naturally, like take a shower or make you bed because if for some reason you do not get around to completing those that day, you will feel that much worse. Far more beneficial and something you should do everyday is be kind and forgiving to yourself.