To-Do Lists, Or How I Lost Control

I am a happy person for the most part; content with my life and the way I live and grateful for all that I have and the wonderful people I am lucky enough to have around me.  But every now and then I slip into feeling as though it’s not enough.  I am not doing enough, or doing things well enough, and it’s hard to pull myself out of that abyss once I fall in.

Since school started a month ago, I’ve been floundering.  I’m trying to find a rhythm and get in a groove, but if I’m being honest, I haven’t found it and I’m just treading water, trying to survive, and not feeling very good either physically or mentally about it.  In fact, other than post-partum emotional insanity and exhaustion, I think this past month is probably the worst I’ve felt without knowing why at almost any time in my life.

This past week I was pretty sure it was a physical ailment pulling me down and sapping my energy, my motivation, my joy.  I had a doctor appointment and did some blood tests and while I’m still waiting on results, I am pretty sure that what is actually troubling me is more mental than physical, and is just taking it’s toll on my body as well as my mind.

Here’s the problem, I think, in a nutshell:  I cannot do everything.  But I still try to, and then feel great failure and anxiety and disappointment over my inability to be perfect in all things.

Here are the tasks and duties I feel responsible to fulfill on a daily basis:

  • Get the children off to school every morning without yelling or being in a rush, and with healthy lunches and snacks
  • Maintain a perfectly clean house 
  • Have a well-decorated and comfortable home with nice furniture that does not have any stains and/or tears on any item (unlikely with 4 kids, a dog, and a cat)
  • Cook well-balanced, organic, whole food meals and snacks that all 6 people in my family will love and enjoy eating
  • Have a beautiful and well-kept yard AND a clean and orderly garage
  • Do at least 1-2 loads of laundry a day in order to ensure there is not a dirty clothes pile the size of my sectional sofa sitting in my laundry room
  • Actually fold and put the clean laundry away
  • Write this blog
  • Work on my other writing project
  • Write a novel
  • Grocery shop every other freaking day, but stay within my monthly food budget
  • Volunteer in my kids’ schools
  • Sew and/or knit (because I enjoy doing those things)
  • Be in great shape; go to the gym AND train for a ten-mile race I am signed up for later this month
  • Read with my kids every day
  • Use my new-found 5 hours of child-free time when Q is in school every week in the most efficient way possible while still using that time for ME and not to do the 5 gazillion other things on this list
  • Go to 3 soccer practices and 2 baseball practices a week, plus three games every Saturday
  • Spend time with my husband that does not involve children’s sports and does not involve me collapsing on the couch at 8:31PM with the iPad firmly in hand and the TV on and him on his laptop
  • Sleep at least 7 or 8 hours a night if I want to act like a nice human being
  • Do all this and still look cute–have stylish and reasonably trendy clothes and shoes, an adorable haircut, and bonus points for manicures and pedicures in perfect Fall colors
  • Do all this and stay within our monthly budget AND simultaneously pay off debt (using the Dave Ramsey plan)

I look at this list and realize that it is totally, completely, 100% ridiculous and impossible for a single person to do all those things.  It. is. IMPOSSIBLE.

And yet I have allowed these mostly self-imposed responsibilities to convince me that I am not good enough.  Logically, looking at this list, I know that’s crazy.  It has just taken me a month of feeling pretty awful to take a look at what’s going on in my life and realize that only I can fix this problem, and the way to do it is to give myself a little grace.  I would never expect all this from someone else, so why on Earth should I expect it of myself???

Recognizing this problem is, I hope, a huge step toward solving it. 

Today, I tell myself, I will do what I can.  I will do all the things I do in the best way I can do them, and it is okay not to do all of them. 

I do not have to be perfect. 

A good reminder from the fabulous Clinton Kelly.

I am enough. In fact, I am pretty freaking fabulous.  Seriously, I am.  (Thanks for reminding me, Clinton.)

And tomorrow, I will remind myself again, and do what I can. 

I hope you do the same for yourself, because I doubt I am the only person feeling this way. 

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10 thoughts on “To-Do Lists, Or How I Lost Control

  1. LeeLee

    Great post. It’s incredibly important to just slow down and take a moment at what is truly important and what isn’t. I have a friend who always says, “My goal isn’t a home, but a happy home.” I think you mention an important topic on how you just have to pick your battles. There’s no need to be perfect, just yourself and figuring out how to balance everything. Or, like you said, do you what you can. πŸ™‚

  2. LG112208

    Thank you for this post today Jessica! It really is true. We all put to much to do on our lists and then worry and feel disappointment when everything isn’t done or done perfectly. Thank you for reminding me I am enough and am fabulous! Raising three young kids and running a daycare is hard work and this just made me feel better about our day today. πŸ™‚ Thank you!

  3. Liz Ellis

    You are definitely not the only one feeling this way. While I have a different to-do list, I find myself juggling a plethora of tasks. I work full time, although most of my 40 hours are done from home and over 4 days. I have the kids when they are not in school plus my side job/hobby of taking photos. Add in the race training schedule plus the new volunteer school schedules and I am have where between everything – scraping to get by but not feeling successful at any one things. I have some days that flow well and others that are a flop. Reading what you shared was great because I feel like at least I am not the only person! Thanks πŸ™‚

    1. Jessica @ Little Nesting Doll

      It’s crazy how much we all seem to put on ourselves! And I think the chaos of the school year starting definitely contributed to stressing me out…hopefully now that things are getting into a routine, our stress levels will go down a bit.

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