In my daughter Eliza’s 2nd grade class, the teacher wrote up a list of “must do’s” on the board each morning (it included things like finishing a math worksheet, writing a page in their journal on the topic of the day, etc.).
The kids had to do everything on that “must-do” list at some point during the day. Then they could move on to the “choose-to-do” list that included things like working on an art project, doing some extra reading, or playing some math games.
Eliza loved the feeling of accomplishment she got as she finished those “must-do’s” and got excited about getting to quite a few of her “choose-to-do’s” each day.
Sometimes, mothering feels really complicated and sometimes we can feel pretty “stuck.” But really, if we think about it for a few minutes, most of us can probably come up with a pretty short list of fairly simple actions that, when done regularly, keep our heads above the water, help us feel a sense of accomplishment, and make us feel pretty good about our lives.
Thanks to what I’ve learned from Eliza, I made my own list of daily “must do’s.” As I work to check off each thing on the list each day, I’m getting into some better habits and putting some simple, necessary things at the top of my priority list.
My “Must-Do” List (most things take about 5 minutes):
1. Pray and read at least a few verses of scriptures sometime during the day.
2. Spend time outside – even a few minutes works wonders for me.
3. Get one load of laundry into the washer and dryer OR fold one load from the previous day. (I can skip a day or two, but then it gets pretty scary)
4. Plan dinner right after breakfast. (Throw something in the crock pot or get something out to thaw…)
5. Spend some quality one-on-one time with at least one child. (This time can be spent scrubbing a floor or making dinner together, or when I linger at one kid’s bed after tucking-in time.)
6. Write a quick email or make a call to someone who’s been on my mind. (A sibling, a friend, a co-worker – takes like 2 minutes and always makes me feel so good…)
7. Spend 5-10 minutes cleaning something that’s been bugging me (beyond the regular meals clean-up and before-bed pick-up).
8. Get some exercise. (I need to do some serious cardio at least 3 times a week, but the other days, I still need at least a little something to keep those endorphins going and keep my energy up. Going on a quick walk around the block or even vacuuming or parking far away and walking into the store counts–something is better than nothing!)
9. Read or listen to something enjoyable and thought-provoking (a blog post by a friend or sister, an essay on Power of Moms, a TED Talk, a podcast, a chapter of a book I’m reading…)
10. Do something nice for my husband – just for him.
11. Before I go to bed at night, write down ONE thing I’ll accomplish the next day in each of three categories – for myself, for my family, for beyond (community/church/friends/hobby) – before going to sleep.
Most days I get to about 8 of the things on this list. And that’s OK. I’m not going for perfect here. But I do see a real difference when I make a real effort to get to these little things that add up to a sense of accomplishment and that really decrease my stress when I keep up with them.
QUESTION: What would go on your list of daily “must-dos”?
CHALLENGE: Make your list!