Thursday, January 16, 2014

List Maker Extraordinaire

There are two kinds of people in the world.  People who make lists and people I cannot understand.

Seriously, who can survive without lists?  And no, those fancy apps that let you schedule your life and beep at you to remind you to breathe do not count.  I mean a good, old fashioned, paper and pen, feel the thrill of ink scribbling out an item listed on actual tree pulp list. I love lists - with virtually any kind of subject matter.

Grocery lists are my personal favorites.  I make an initial list of things I intend to buy.  Then I recopy the list in the order of the aisle in the grocery store.  If they had an Olympics of grocery store lists, I'd definitely at least make the podium.  It is one of my few stellar talents in life - sad though it is.   Which is why I almost wept in Cub Foods during one of my pregnancies when they rearranged the store and I could not find the peanut butter.  No, that is not a figurative weeping.  I literally leaned against my shopping cart with a lump in my throat and came home to complain to a my sweet husband for nearly a half an hour.  He was slightly bewildered at my reaction, but was a trooper in giving me the condolence I thought I needed.  I will definitely blame pregnancy hormones for that. 

To-do lists always seem to me to be the height of optimism.  I can start the day picturing myself briskly and efficiently moving from one task to another.  While still in my jammies, I can envision the competent me, organizing my life into some sort of disinfected utopia.

Of course the reality is that I list entirely too many things on my list than can be completed without a backup team of babysitters, housekeepers, fitness proxies and zen masters.  However, several consecutive days of too few things crossed of the list can avalanche into apathy and soul crushing disappointment with myself.

The only real remedy for for this is another list, of course.  But this failure remedying list is not a to-do list.  Instead I make an "I did it" list.  Instead of writing down dream goals of cleaning the garage and baking a souffle on the same day, I write down everything I actually do accomplish.  Even (especially) the mundane things that are never acknowledged.

A list like this might include the following:
     *  Get up (might as well start with the basics)
     *  Make bed
     *  Brush teeth
     *  Shower
     *  Get dressed
     *  Hair, make-up, contacts
     *  Pack kids' lunches
     *  Unload dishwasher
     *  Load dishwasher
     *  Put in load of laundry

Look at that.  I've listed off 10 accomplishments completed before I even wake the kids up for school.  That is enough to give a good ol' ego boost on the days when I feel like I have been busy,but look around and everything looks the same as it did when I woke up.

I think that is one of the hardest things about at raising children and at-home work.  Unless I set aside some time to work on a long-term project, most of the things I do are an attempt to maintain the status quo - keep dishes clean, keep clothes clean, keep kids alive - that sort of thing.  Whatever I do gets undone in a day, an hour, or a determined toddler minute.  Except the keep kids alive part.  I've done pretty well maintaining that.

How ironic, then, that the days when I don't accomplish maintenance that running a home and family requires, it is painfully, glaringly obvious.

Perhaps I should instead take a cue from the child's to-do list I recently came across:

Picture credit:  Mark Frauenfelder at Boing Boing


Jess said...

Get dizzy. Check. That happened after I painted a dollhouse with oil based primer in a non-ventilated room. Oops. I love this kids list!

Jodi said...

I remember when you and I had a discussion on list making once. You told me some days you would put brushing teeth, etc on a list to make you feel good about whatever was accomplished. Loved that idea then....and love it now! You rock.

Brittany JM said...

I do the double grocery list, too! I also totally relate to the "status quo" conundrum...seems there is always plenty to keep me busy with that!

Brittany JM said...

I do the double grocery list, too! I also totally relate to the "status quo" conundrum...seems there is always plenty to keep me busy with that!