Photo of a pack of multi-colored pens placed upon the to-do list page of a spiral smart notebook

Making and sticking to a to-do list helps me prioritize all my tasks, and makes finite the infinite list of things that need to get done.

I’m snappy lately. I don’t mean to be, and I don’t quite know even why I’m so snappy, other than the fact that there is an endless supply of things to do and a limited time in which to do them.

It’s par for the course as a mom, especially during this time, and especially with a baby added into the mix. On days when my kids’ schedules are all misaligned and I can’t seem to focus on one thing for more than a couple minutes without being interrupted by someone needing something from me, or running through the house, or being loud while the baby is trying to get to sleep, it’s overwhelming. On days when my kids want to make something in the kitchen but don’t want to clean up the aftermath, it’s overwhelming. On days when I have 1,000,001 tasks to do but only time for a quarter of them, it’s overwhelming.

And when I’m overwhelmed, every single little thing seems designed to scratch at my nerves. When I’m overwhelmed, I can’t figure out where to start because there are so many things that need doing and they all seem equally important. When I’m overwhelmed I express it as nagging, yelling, and generalized irritation. My eating disorder also goes a bit haywire, and lately that’s been bubbling up in the background. It’s a vicious cycle which leaves me feeling helpless and ineffective.

So, what to do? It’s hard to accept there’s anything I can do in these moments, helpless as I feel. Things are unpredictable around me. I can’t figure out how to take care of myself because it seems  like it needs to be scheduled into an unpredictable schedule. 

Well, first I make a list. I’ve been adjusting the format of my to-do list since the baby came, and I have something now that’s moderately workable. I schedule bite-sized pieces into each day, and I have a list of tasks and self-care activities on the side bar. I can make my list even while I’m distracted, and then when the distractions lift I can pick up something from today’s list to check off. When I find myself with time outside the bite-sized pieces, I fit them into the day and check them off. Certain things I can only do with full concentration. Others I can do while hanging with the kids or while nursing. 

My to-do list is a way of taking back some level of control. There’s a certain freedom in knowing that, while the true  list is endless, I can make it more finite by writing it down. It’s comforting, though I rarely check off even the finite number of items on the list.

I realized this morning I hadn’t made my list yet, and now that I have I feel quite a bit better. This, in fact, is one of those bite-size pieces I was talking about earlier.

Check.

-NK