Make your choice. Find your list of priorities and don’t sweat the other stuff. This is about YOU living YOUR best life.
The endless to-do list
My mum has been staying with us this week because, wonderful woman that she is, she wanted to get some DIY jobs ticked off for us. She’s tiled, painted, sawed, hammered, scraped and drilled. And we now have a beautifully decorated bathroom and a garden blooming with flowers.
But as the week wore on, I was getting increasingly down. Why? Because of the number of times I found myself uttering the words “Yes we were going to do that. It’s on our to-do list“.
As my lovely mum scanned our house and assessed which tasks to tackle, she clocked a whole host of jobs that had just never made it to the top of our priority list; touching up the paint in the bathroom, replacing the torn wallpaper in the hallway, buying a plant for the entrance, replacing the shower curtain for a shower screen.
As more and more overlooked jobs were brought to light, I began to sink into that familiar feeling… inadequacy.
I felt that I had let everyone down
- my husband – because I’m a stay at home mum; the “homemaker”
- my dad – because he paid the deposit on our house and I should’ve put more energy into its upkeep
- my kids – because they were living in a house that had so much that needed doing to it
Of course the truth is, the house is not run-down – it just needs a lick of paint and a few repairs, and we just haven’t had the time or resources to do it.
But still my mind spiralled.
As a mum, there are always so many balls to juggle – spellings, healthy meals, homework, haircuts, new shoes, school fairs. Then add in my work as a blogger, my role as a wife, the household chores; my responsibilities as a daughter, a sister, a member of the local community.
I began to see it all mounting up around me and I felt like I was drowning in it.
All the areas where I was “letting things slide” suddenly felt exposed, and the jobs taunted me. I had fallen off the “no puddings” wagon, gotten into the habit of letting the kids watch TV after school, and forgotten to post that letter. I don’t know how to use an iron, I’ve never made a Sunday lunch, and there are days when I stick a bobble in the girls’ hair without even attempting to run a brush through it.
I felt my well-polished exterior start to crumble as more and more of my failings surfaced.
Make your choice
But then a moment of clarity struck – you have to make your own choice!
There simply is not time to be on top of everything. As a 21st century mum in the UK, I’m expected to:
- have a career
- be at every school assembly/concert/meeting
- Exercise several hours a day
- Cook nutritious meals
- Have an interesting hobby
- Be a size 10 or less
- Drink 8 glasses of water a day
- Eat 5 fruit or vegetables a day
- Keep the garden looking beautiful
- Keep the house spotlessly clean
- Sleep eight hours per night
- Be up at 6am with my little ones
- Take the children to swimming lessons, dance lessons, craft club, the library
- Train them in digital technology
- But limit their screen time
- Read to the kids before bed
- Devote time to my husband in the evening
- Keep in contact with my friends
- Be active on social media
The list is endless and, to be frank, nobody is doing it all! It is physically impossible.
What I realised is, you make your choice and prioritise the things that are important to you.
Your priorities make you, you!
For me, being healthy is important, but I’m not a gym bunny. However, playing with my children is a priority for me so I try to carve out some time everyday for it.
Am I better than the gym bunny mum? No. Is the gym bunny mum better than me? No. We’ve just both ordered our priority list differently, and that’s what makes us who we are.
If every everyone spent 2 hours in the gym each night, who would supervise the kids? And if everyone supervised the kids, who would work in the shop? And if everyone worked in the shop, who would build the houses?
We all have different skills, different interests, different lives. It’s not up to us to dictate what the important things in life our. In reality, we couldn’t function as a society without people making different choices to ours.
Make your choice and be the best YOU that you can be. Let things slide – it’s how life works. We’re all pursuing different goals with unique twists and turns.
So what if Claire’s 6yo can read fluently? And who cares if Hannah’s earning £80k? You are you. You have other strings to your bow, other boxes to tick, other paths to travel. Those mums will have different priorities and resources to you.
Don’t chase after someone else’s dream. Sure it would be nice to “have it all” but make your choice based on what is right for you.
So you don’t have time to go to the gym, maybe you focus instead on:
- volunteering in your community; or
- giving one-on-one time to your kids; or
- advancing your career.
So you don’t have the money to decorate your house, maybe you focus instead on:
- saving up for a family holiday; or
- paying for music lessons; or
- buying organic vegetables.
Make your choice. Do what is important to you. Find where your skills lie and your goals lead and order your life accordingly. Walk your path and don’t worry that you’re not doing everything.
I will never have a show home
My house is not a show home. Even with the new bathroom and garden, there are still lots of areas that need to be worked on. But is it a safe space for my kids? Does it have running water and heating? Is it a place where we feel happy as a family? Yes, yes, and yes.
I could spend all my money repapering the walls, but it’s liveable as it is. Personally, I would rather spend my money on getting ready for our summer camping trip. You may feel differently and getting the house up to scratch is your priority. That’s okay too.
It is your life, your choice, your resources to dip into as you see fit.
So it may be a little controversial but… don’t worry if healthy eating isn’t your priority – quinoa isn’t for everyone! It’s okay if reading books isn’t your thing – there are lots of other ways to access information. Who cares if your house is untidy? – messy homes can be just as happy.
Make your choice. Do the best you can with what you have. Be you.
Do you sometimes feel you’ll never get to the end of your to-do list? What do you see as your key priorities? Have they changed over time? I’d love you to leave a comment below!
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