Parenting

Kids and Checklists

I think I’m an okay mom.

In the spirit of not being too self-critical, I really think I do okay. My kids are fed (generally healthy foods). My kids do chores (there’s the occasional protest in the form of kicking and screaming, but hey, life lessons, right?). My kids have regular learning time (but I’m just lucky and they like worksheets). They don’t generally watch too much TV, we read books, we go for walks, all those good things.

Let’s face it. I’m a to-do lister and check-the-box type of person, and I’m really really REALLY good at making sure everything is tip-top, checked-off, dotted-i’s and crossed-t’s, the whole shebang. It’s what I do.

So now that I’m done with my little “yay I’m so great”, you know what I suck at?

Not checking off all the boxes.

My oldest starts kindergarten at the end of July. So far, I’m not panicking too much, not too many tears of “oh my little boy growing up!” which I know will undoubtedly come. But, being a goal-setter, we (and yes, we, because he inherited my love of charts and achieving things by checking off boxes, so he set these goals with me) have a goal for him to read me 100 books before kindergarten (he’s at 35, not bad) and for him to learn to swim.

The pool in our neighborhood opened up on a rainy weekend, because, well, life.

But this week has been beautiful.

80 degrees by 10 a.m.?

Yes. Freaking. Please.

It has been so nice. Happy sigh. So my sister-in-law and I have been bumbling off to the pool around 10 every morning with five toddlers (ages 4, 3, 3, 1, and 1…yes, you read that right) and thank goodness she’s better at teaching swimming than I am, because they are all improving a ton.

But what oh what does this have to do with not checking off boxes?

Well, see, usually we do morning chart, and then sometimes a craft or worksheet, then a chore, then lunch, then another learning something or other, then an errand, then naps while I’m doing another chore, then—

See?

We are always doing something.

I have checklists for me, the kids, the house stuff, the church stuff, the next season stuff, the next year…always, always, always there is something to be done and not enough time to do it. I don’t think it’s an entirely bad trait to have, but sometimes it gets overwhelming, especially for the kids.

We are only three days in, but this is already looking like a great summer, and mostly because it’s so underwhelming.

And the kids are so happy.

Here’s our crazy schedule:

Monday: swam for about two hours in the morning. Came home, ate lunch, napped. Boys woke up and played trains. Ate dinner. Watched a movie. Went to bed.

Happy, happy boys.

Tuesday: swam for about two hours in the morning. Came home, ate lunch, napped. Boys woke up and played. We folded some laundry, then ate dinner, then went to bed.

Wednesday: Skipped swimming in order to play and take a morning nap. Ate lunch, went to the library, went to visit my grandma (which we do every Wednesday). Got home, kids played, then we ate dinner, then went to bed.

Not so say I’m not getting chores done in the background, or that I’m not expecting help occasionally (we did spend some time Monday evening picking up toys before bed, I guess). Is the house a little messier? Not much, actually. Is my to-do list not getting done? Well, sort of.

My checklist is so much less important than my kids though.

So I guess what I’m saying is: give yourself permission to set aside the checklist for a while. Yes, it’s all important. It all needs to get done at some point. But don’t beat yourself up for not checking the boxes. Beat yourself up for not taking the chance to enjoy your kids while they’re kids.

You have your whole life–what do you really want to spend it on?

Tomorrow the plan is to swim all morning and read all afternoon.

I’ll put them in my planner just so I can mark them off, but really, that’s my whole plan for the day.

It’s going to be beautiful.

 

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