The Did-Do List

The Did-Do List | Twin Cities Moms Blog

“I feel like I am failing at everything!”

Ever yelled that one into the big open sky? Yep – me, too. Only about 10,000 times.

It’s so easy to see the “epic fails” of my own situation. The late arrival at the doctor’s office, the forgotten birthday party I RSVP’d to attend, and what about the meat I put in the oven to pre-cook? It was WELL past done when I pulled it out at 2AM after waking to the smell of chicken.  

Right now, we can’t even ride our bikes because I put the bicycle tire pump in a really special place so we could always find it… When we look there in that special place…. after I remember it… Oh, mercy!

Oddly enough, one of the most frustrating things is when my husband comes home and asks, “What’d you do today?”

Now, this is a completely innocent question. He’s honestly curious to hear what my day was like – not checking up on me to be sure I’ve been productive. But this is not where my mind goes.

“I’ve been working SO hard, but I have NOTHING to show for it!” (Cue the sobbing.)

I like to get things done – to feel productive. Because of that, I am a list maker. I have lists on notepads, backs of envelopes, in emails to myself – I like lists. It helps get all the tasks out of my head and onto paper. I can look at my list, pick which things I aim to accomplish for the day, and then experience the joy of crossing them off when they’re completed. It’s delightful!

But there’s one problem. Most of what I do in a day isn’t on that list. It’s not even list-worthy! It’s just normal, day-to-day things that aren’t special enough to make the list. Honestly, when was the last time you wrote, “Keep the kids alive” or “Feed the brood lunch” on your To-Do list?

Back to my husband’s question: He asks, “What’d you do today?” and I sob loudly, while spouting out my itinerary for the last 10 hours that consisted mainly of shuttling children and answering questions – the same questions – several times over.

“See? You did a lot today already!”

Wait a minute – he’s right! It may not have been on the To-Do list, but it doesn’t mean it didn’t matter! So, I’ve started the practice of making a new kind of list: A Did-Do list.

Now, at the end of those days when I am feeling unaccomplished and overwhelmed by the magnitude of what wasn’t crossed off my To-Do list, I sit down and make out my Did-Do list. These are all the things I spent my time doing that wouldn’t have gotten done if I hadn’t chosen to do them. Here are some examples:

Fed kids breakfast

Drove kids to school

Put a load of wash in

Wiped off the table and counters

Sorted the mail

Answered 3 emails

Took a shower

Picked kids up from school

Fed kids snack

Read 4 books to kid #4

Listened to kid #3 tell stories about her day

Looked for lost homework binder

Helped with homework (kid #1-4)

Hung up my clothes

Looked for lost library books

Dropped a friend a note

Replenished the toilet paper in BOTH bathrooms

Found the computer cord that was missing

Looked for lost shin guards

Looked for lost soccer shoes

Researched stink-away spray for the shoes

Ordered stink-away spray for the shoes

De-escalated a hostile situation between kids #1 and #3

Kept the kids alive

And so on….

I still have my To-Do list and I try to pick two things (even though I want to pick five) that I will try to finish each day. But when the day is nearing bedtime, I find that looking at all the things I DID do brings me far greater peace and sense of accomplishment than looking over all the things I didn’t do yet.

What about you? Maybe you need to make a Did-Do list! You fill the hours and minutes of your day with important things – things that matter. That 20-minute conversation in the grocery store with that friend you haven’t seen in a while? You may not know it, but that helped ease the feelings of isolation she’s been fighting. That fort you built with your 6-year old? He needed some extra TLC because learning to read is SO very hard. Taking a shower? There is something therapeutic and rejuvenating about getting clean and spending a few moments to slap on some make-up or wear your favorite comfy outfit.

Please, don’t toss out that To-Do list! It is necessary and keeps us organized and moving forward. But try adding the practice of a Did-Do list, and celebrate all the time-worthy things you did today, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. Happy listing!

Kelly Jo Flaa
Kelly Jo lives her life just how she writes, with lots of exclamation marks! Her Saint Paul home is filled with noise from her fantastic husband, Jon, and their four spicy kids, Owen (‘07), Evan (‘08), Kierstin (’10), and Calvin (’14). She loves her family, her faith, adventure, people, meaningful conversation, the world at large, laughing, and is always armed with a good hug waiting for someone who needs or wants it. She often drives a different way home just because and has more embarrassing stories than two lifetimes put together! She loves coffee, honesty and any reason to celebrate! When she is not building forts or reading books aloud as a mostly stay-at-home-mom, she can be found working part-time at her church.

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