No More To-Do Lists

I had a mom tell me the other day that I have it all figured out. I had to laugh because she couldn’t be further from the truth. As moms, especially homeschooling moms, no matter if you’re new or seasoned, we’re all still trying to get it right. The only thing I can say is I’ve created the space to listen to what God desires for me personally and our family as a whole.

You can find that space and time too.

Over the past year our family has been pursuing a simple and free lifestyle, one without unrealistic society expectations, the unnecessary weight of belongings we don’t really need, and with a calendar allowing us to live openly to what He calls us to in the moment – whether it be chowing on watermelon slices alongside the kids on our front porch, reading through piles of great books, hiking in the glorious Pacific Northwest for an undetermined amount of time, or cooking a delicious meal as a family in our humble kitchen.

And here’s the truth: I love lists. Coming from a corporate background, along with helping grow a startup company, checking items off a list was literally euphoric to me. I would make lists for lists. Once a few items were checked off, I’d have to make a new list so it looked cleaner.

It was all silly, really.

Over the past year, however, I’ve been able to not only abolish my crazy list habit but glance at my calendar only to realize how little I now actually rely on it.

But probably most importantly, by going through this experiment (which has turned into a lovely way of life for us) my husband and I have created the loving, calm and respectful family atmosphere I’ve only dreamed of.

So if you’re looking for that time and space in your daily routine along with ditching your list habit, feel free to follow this path below (can you tell I’m trying to avoid using the term “list”?). It will look different for you, of course, but it’s a good start:

Sit down and make a purpose statement. How do you want to feel each day?
Wipe your slate and calendar clean. Start fresh if possible. I wound my calendar down because I was over scheduled. So you can go that route as well… just remember to keep taking things off and not putting things in their place.
Be fiercely protective of your time. If you have a day of rest. Rest. Don’t do anything but REST. I used to be scared of having an open calendar. Now I’m unhappy without it.
Be purposeful with everything you do alone, and together. If it doesn’t make sense for your purpose statement, then don’t commit to it.
Say “no thank you” more often than you say “sure, doing that sounds like a great idea”
Experiment with not using your calendar for, say, a week. If you missed something, maybe it wasn’t something you should have on there in the first place? (Please keep in mind I only have two kids. I can keep track of them much easier than, say, if I have five kids. And we spend a lot of time at home because over time I realized it’s more important now as they need that time to play as often as possible. So, if you have more kids, even one activity each will eat up your free time, so be wise about consolidating them as much as possible).
Take account of things that take time away from the things you love… delete these from your life, if possible. But be honest with yourself.
Enter slow mornings, hot breakfasts and conversing with one another without technology. We have the same breakfast every morning to keep things simple. Eggs. Oatmeal and fruit. Easy peasy.
Simplify by purging and minimizing your belongings. I recommend reading The Less of More by Joshua Becker. You can read my review on the book here.
Simplify meals. We get local, fresh produce and meals with recipes delivered weekly. This is not only a healthier option than running down processed food isles in a grocery store, but cuts down on the time I have to spend shopping and meal planning and cuts our food budget in half considering I don’t have a list I’m deviating from. Put simply, it’s more efficient if delivery is possible in your area. If it’s not, start a garden. You can grow from there.
Live a low-tech lifestyle. If you’re tired of wondering where the time went after you just sat browsing Facebook or Pinterest for an hour, then just stop logging on. It’s that simple. I promise you won’t die.
Foster relationships over all else. This one is probably the most critical. Are you putting more emphasis on activities, to-do’s and other’s expectations? Or letting as much of it go as you can to focus on you, your husband and kids while they’re still in the home? Is it really important you make a meal from scratch for that neighborhood gathering? Or can you just grab some grapes and plop them in a bowl?
Listen to yourself and encourage our children to do the same. Each day, show your children you need a break to just breath. Show them how to do this and how to tune into their bodies (does eating candy really feel good, kids? Or leave you feeling tired and icky?) and when you feel out of balance, use these techniques to pull you back down to earth.
Focus on what’s meaningful. Are the dishes meaningful at this moment? Or would sitting down and playing with my kids be a wiser choice?
Stop the glorification of busy. I was raised with this belief, so maybe it’s why I’m striving for a simpler life now that I was burnt out at an early age.
Be present – put down the phone. Nothing matters more than what’s happening in front of you at the moment. It’s the truth. People can wait unless it’s an emergency.
Play more. Remember more. Savor this short time on earth.
Do what you love more. This will come easier as you minimize your distractions and commitments. But show your kids what it’s like to really have a passion for something other than their wellbeing.
Finally, let go. The laundry, the dishes, the cleaning, the stuff that never ends. Feel free to read my article on how to live less with kids. Hopefully it’ll help you and your family too.

And give yourself grace, lean on God. Find out why you were born into this world by simplifying. I promise you won’t regret it.

With Love.

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