I’m making a list, I’m checking it twice…or three times, or four, or actually, I’m running through the list in my head constantly all day long.
I am talking about the never ending “to-do” list. This time of year, that list feels especially overwhelming. In addition to the regular mommy workload, add on the decorating, baking, extra meal planning, present wrapping, trip planning, schedule managing, friend playdate organizing mayhem. And I am tired.
I am tired of feeling like I am doing all the things all day long only to wonder at the end of the day what I actually accomplished. What tasks must I bump over to tomorrows to do list because today I “failed” to get them done? What did I take off the list anyway? Why do I feel like a ran a marathon before 10 a.m. yet I am still un-showered and in my pajamas?
I have been thinking a lot lately about this concept of “invisible work” or “mental load.” Let’s face it, moms take care of a ton of things that they themselves don’t even recognize are time-sucks. I decided to write down EVERYTHING I did one day to bring to light some of the invisible work I carry:
A day in the life
- Wake up at 6
- Walk dog
- Feed dog
- Give medicine to dog
- Make breakfast
- Purchase shoes for my toddler online
- Order groceries online from instacart
- Get my toddler out of crib
- Play with toddler in room then go downstairs
- Get toddler set up at breakfast table
- Get up multiple times at breakfast to get different items
- Empty dishwasher dry dishes and put away
- Rinse breakfast dishes and put in dishwasher
- Put in load of laundry
- Brush my teeth and change my clothes
- Brush toddler’s teeth and change toddler’s clothes
- Prep water bottles for the day
- Put toddler in car 2x after escaped first attempt
- Drive to pre-school (meltdown in car over snack provided)
- Get to school (meltdown over having to poop but not wanting to poop in school. Standing with child outside of portable toilet in trunk of car)
- Wait for poop, no poop.
- Carry toddler quickly into school because now we are late
- Leave school
- Workout in gym
- Call doctor office to reschedule appointment
- Get gas in car
- Make returns at Target and shop at Target (Solo! Woohoo!)
- Pick up toddler from preschool
- Bring groceries into house
- Push toddler in toy car to check mail
Hold toddler up while teaching him how to use key to check mail
- Push toddler home in toy car
- Avoiding near meldown about wanting to ride back and not go into house
- Go into house and prepare lunch
- Eat lunch at 12:30 pm
- Meltdown about wanting smoothie instead of milk
- Clean up dishes
- Put away remaining grocery items
- Get toddler upstairs and onto potty
- Change toddler into pjs and naptime routine
- Switch over laundry
- Quick power nap while toddler naps
- Go to doctor’s appointment (without toddler because husband is home)
- Make work call on way home
- Return home and play with toddler outside
- Eat dinner (prepared for by husband)
- Do dishes
- Give toddler bath
- Fold laundry while toddler in bath (I bring laundry into bathroom so I can still interact and provide supervision)
- Bedtime routine with toddler
- Walk dog
- Give dog medicine
- Fold and put away rest of laundry
- Brush teeth/wash face
- Get into bed at 9:30 p.m.
If someone were to have asked me what I did all day, I probably would have said, “Well, I took my son to preschool, worked out, and went to Target!”
It actually took me writing down ALL of the little things to realize ALL that I do. And it’s a lot! Looking at this list I don’t know where to squeeze in the conceptualizing, planning, and execution of all the added work that comes with the holiday season.
So, I am making a list. I am checking it twice. I am crossing off the things that seem draining and not nice. I am saying no to family holiday cards, or traveling, or trips to see Santa. I am buying store bought cookies for gatherings where food options are already plentiful.
I want to prioritize presence over presents. Quality face to face time instead of screen time. I want to enjoy and engage rather than stress and enrage.
So, this year, I am making some yummy food to share with my family. This year, we are taking in the pretty lights while taking sips of hot cocoa. This year, I am reflecting on what I am grateful for, and what brings vitality to my family. This year, instead of all the to-do’s, I want to just be.