Like it or not, I am a goal oriented, productivity driven person, whether the goal is getting the kitchen cleaned, or having fun coloring with Little M. When I have a To Do list, I'm happier, more content, even calmer.
It took me a while, upon becoming a mother, to learn to put fun Little M oriented items on my To Do list, and while sometimes I wish I could be the mother that plays all day with her kids, that just doesn't make me happy. I want Little M to grow up with us doing fun things, with me taking the time to play with her, to read to her, to build barns for her animal cars, to make bubbles in the bathtub, but also to grow up knowing how to do all the practical things around the house that keep our household running.
The way that works for me right now so that we do things for her and things for me and things for the household, is to plan things out in advance. That isn't to say that there isn't flexibility, because, being a mother to a 2 year old, I have to be flexible! But I have my ten items I aim to do, and some of them are for the household - feed/water/shavings for the chickens, bringing in some firewood, cleaning the bathroom sink. Some of them are for me - writing one of my manuscripts, walking with dogs in the woods. And some of them are for her - coloring, bubble baths.
I don't always get all 10 items done, but depending on whether I have written mostly big items or mostly small items, sometimes I get more done. The key is that I can look back at the day, and not be looking at an unmanageably, impossibly long To Do list where really I only got a couple things done because M had a short nap, 4 poopy diapers, the chicken water took 3 kettle-fulls of boiling water to completely de-ice, etc.
When I have my short To Do list all nicely laid out, I know by the crossed off items, just at a glance, whether I got some or most of my 10 items done. And I have now learned to let that be a judge of whether I had a productive good day or not. Having just 10 items means I don't rush around from task to task. I can try to stop and enjoy the little things when they appear. Like Little M sleeping so sweetly in her toddler bed, growing up way too fast. Or my rosemary plant beginning to grow tender, leggy new shoots and leaves again, an early sign that the longest days of winter are passing, and that spring will soon be just around the corner.
For me, right now in my life, this system is working. It's helping as I try to find peace in my often too-busy days, feel good about the things I accomplish, move closer to my goals, and enjoy the moments with my family that matter. Isn't it amazing what a simple to do list can do for you? :)
**my ten item To Do list is inspired by Tsh of Simple Mom, and her book Organized Simplicity**