Ever feel like you just can’t get ahead? Like your to-do list is causing more anxiety than productivity in your life? Trust me, I’ve been there. In fact, this is the way I have lived my life for as long as I can remember. The achiever in me needed the satisfaction of checking off tasks. That is until one day I realized that all of my to-dos were keeping me from precious time with my little boy. Time that I could never get back.
I mean, what does any of it matter if you miss out on creating memories and special moments with your children. What’s even worse is that my to-do list was more fear-based than aspiration-based. Sounds crazy, right? Let me explain.
For me, ticking things off of my list gave me the illusion that I was in control of things. Like even if the outside world was going crazy, at least I was able to manage something. The issue was that if I didn’t accomplish everything, I began to feel like I somehow missed the mark and failed at meeting my goals. If I did accomplish something, there was always something else that needed to get done, so there was never truly a sense of accomplishment. Basically, I set myself up to fail.
If you’re reading this and unable to relate, I envy you lol No really, you probably have mastered the art of letting things go. I think for me, the answer isn’t to completely do away with my to-do list. The positive thing about listing out tasks is that it allows me to get things out of my head and onto something physical that I can see. From there, I can assess the importance of everything I need to do and pray about what should have priority in my life.
Here’s how I strike the balance of keeping my mind clear and releasing the need to do all the things all of the time:
I have one main priority a day.
I know most will tell you to focus on 3-5 things, but in this season of my life with two little ones, I have to keep the main thing the main thing. The biggest priority is caring for them and everything else flows from there. Now there are plenty of things that won’t make the list that still need to get done: i.e. watching a movie with the family, getting my toddler ready for the day, cooking dinner. Those things take time as well. Typically, the one item I focus on each day falls outside of basic family tasks. The tasks that usually make my list are things like setting aside time to wrap Christmas gifts on a Saturday or organizing the kid’s closet on a Sunday.
I adopt an attitude of flexibility.
None of my attempts at giving myself a little grace make a difference if I don’t change my mindset. This goes completely against my get-it-all-done nature, but I remain open to the possibility of things not going according to plan. Of course, there are times when certain things just have to get done, and that’s okay. But more often than not, a lot of things we tend to concern ourselves with can be moved to the back burner. In those instances, I allow myself to put a pin in anything that is compromising my time with those I love and my time to rest.
I actually value rest in my life.
This is so key because in order for me to make a change in my life, I have to see the benefit of that change. I now understand that nothing will get done in excellence if I’m running on empty. I can’t fully show up the way that I need to if I’m not fully present and in the moment. And more than any of that, our bodies need rest. It is not an optional thing. So I have to make space for it.
By now I’m sure you’ve come across the term “burn out.” It’s something that most of us are sure to experience in some way in different aspects of our lives. As a wife and a mom with professional and personal goals, burn out can almost feel inevitable. But once I decided to free myself from the need to get everything done, I became less stressed and more open to the possibilities of each day. I hope you’re able to give yourself permission to let go as well. Here’s to slowing down in motherhood and finding peace!
So tell me, in what ways do you make room for rest in your life? Let me know in the comments.