Last weekend I fulfilled one of my goals for the year by going to the Power of Mom's retreat in Park City. It was such a wonderful way to help me refuel and become more motivated as a mom. I really cannot say enough good about the experience. The one "not so positive" thing I might say is that so much of what I came home with was kind of common sense stuff... all of which I'd never put all together into conscious thought. So that made me feel a little foolish. But only like 1%...
So one of the best things I came home with was a new way of looking at to do lists. I NEED to use them more because it just helps keep my mind organized and focused on what needs to be done. I'm not big on writing down every tiny thing I accomplish each day (I know, I'm weird...), but I do write the non-daily tasks that need attention.
Now let me break it down... this new system I'm embracing. This idea was introduced by Richard Eyre, a funny, brilliant author of so many parenting books. We were at his beautiful home for the retreat.
You start out by choosing three "choose to do" items before ever writing the "have to do's". Each of those "choose to do's" fall into one of these categories; personal, family, work. Sometimes it could be something unnecessary like painting my nails and sometimes it could be a job that really needs to get done but I'm choosing to put it before other things on my priority list.
After that, the "to-do's" get listed on the left side of the page and you make another column on the right for "serendipity moments." Richard had a lot to say about the serendipity moments that probably puts it in an even better perspective, but you'll see how it pays off by the end of the day and the end of the week. Simply put, the serendipity moments are the things that occur throughout the day that you weren't planning for but they enriched a moment of your day. Sometimes they will be interrupters of your "schedule" that end up putting a positive twist on your day. Other times it might just be a little moment of joy that you discover amidst all of the things you had to do.
Really, the whole point of this, to me, is to let my to do list be a part of my life with my kids rather than my kids being a part of my to do list. I set a goal to do this for a week with the intention to look back on my week and see all the tasks (at least 21 of them) that I chose to accomplish and also to see the countless amounts of joyful serendipity moments that occurred during the week. Seeing those things add up really ought to improve my outlook at life, right?
So here's a glimpse at day one.
As you can see, it was a simple day as far as to do lists go. I had worked the night before and knew I wasn't going to have the energy to save the world or anything like that, but I had a few things that really needed to happen so I wrote them down. And as I mentioned before, plenty of household tasks did get done I just didn't write them all down. Being totally honest, I only did two of the three "choose to" items, but that's ok with me. I took a nap instead of doing item number one. And that was the "personal" item so I felt like swapping it for a nap was beneficial to the entire household.
My favorite part at the end of the day was the chance to reflect on the lovely parts of my day. First off, I resolved to stay unstressed while we got ready for school and we got up late (totally my fault) so I just jumped in and put Marshall's shoes on him while he ate breakfast. It was a tiny gesture towards my kiddo that I cared about him enough to help him. Strangely, he begs me to put his shoes on for him multiple times a week. I think he gets overwhelmed sometimes by being older and more responsible and it's one of the only ways I can do something FOR him. It caused me to reflect though, that I really could do better at serving him and helping him feel loved. It's hard to be responsible and he's trying to balance that right now, so I'm going to do better at being there for him in moments I can serve. The next two things were little things that enriched my day and I was grateful I could look up from planting tomatoes to visit with the neighbor and that I could break from my regular schedule to enjoy the company of friends at the park. The fourth thing on my list was a special little moment I am sure to forget if I hadn't written it down. And who knows... I may still forget it someday, but at least now it's been documented. I was finishing with my planting and weed pulling when Macy joined me in the garden, picked up a trowel, and sat down and started "digging." She would just scoop up a little dirt and let it drop, over and over again. The best part though, was she was just singing to herself in her cute, little, wordless voice. It was something I hope my heart remembers forever. She was just having the greatest time and I got to see it. So special! Lastly, Marshall was resisting doing his chores so instead of losing my cool I invited him to walk and check the mail with me. I figured maybe we could chat while we walked and he might catch on to the idea... sure enough, it worked! He felt more relaxed and contributed to the conversation and we got home ready to get all of the chores done in record time. When he was headed to bed he told me, "Mom... I really liked walking with you today. And I never got disappointed ALL DAY!" After asking a question or two, it was apparent that a little calm conversation while on a walk dispersed his frustration with chores and he never lost his cool. He noticed that he went the whole day without losing it and we all went to bed much happier than other days can sometimes end. After looking at what I've written, I realize that I even have another thing to mention on the serendipity list. The time I spent in the garden would typically have been when I would have been at the gym. And I LOVE my time at the gym, so it really never makes the to do list because it's just the way I live. But while in the garden I got two great additions to my day. How nice to sit back and be thankful for the day I had. And it was a Monday even!
I'm loving this approach to the things I need to accomplish and I hope I can make it a habit and a more permanent way of thinking.