Does your to-do list make you feel like a failure? Maybe it’s time to let some things on your to-do list sit undone.
I have this thing with to-do lists. Like most people, I write them out to remind myself to do things. But I go a step further: I use them as a measure of success.
If I check things off, it’s been a good day. If I don’t, I wallow in defeat.
I’m learning to let this go.
Because, sometimes, it’s OK to let the to-do list sit undone.
When I’ve got 300 emails in my inbox, and my daughter crawls on top of my lap with a book, it’s OK to close the computer and let the messages go unanswered.
When I’ve got four loads of laundry to fold, and my 5-year-old announces that she’s throwing a party in the play room, it’s OK to lay the laundry aside.
When my preschoolers are singing at their school chapel and it’s smack dab in the middle of my work hours at the coffee shop, it’s OK for me to rearrange my schedule so I can be there to watch them.
For far too long, I’ve been that mom who tried to do all things well at the same time.
The myth of the “you can have your cake and eat it, too” is just that–a myth.
I’ve been struggling with something ever since I got home from Costa Rica: the pull between running a business to help provide for my family and being 100% Mommy to my girls.
Regardless of if a mom works full-time outside the home, works from home, or is a stay-at-home mom, I’ve seen a pattern in young moms that I feel we will one day regret if not remedied:
Enslaved to our to-do lists, we’re being robbed of our motherhood.
When the only “quality” time we have with our children is in the mini van, en route to school and ball practice and club meetings and back, we get so little time to mold our little ones’ hearts, to disciple them in the truth, to build a relationship that will transcend the little years and last a lifetime.
Sometimes my heart aches for a village in the mountains of Costa Rica–for a rushing river that stilled the desire for media consumption, for warm conversation on threadbare couches, for piping mugs of coffee and boiling ollá de carne, for sponge baths in basins of water heated on a wood stove, for a misty drive up a volcano and potty breaks on the side of the road in the pouring rain, for the squeals of needy children opening Christmas boxes in July, for the sweet breathe of an indigenous newborn and the yearning eyes of her mother, for the pitter patter of hard rain on tins roofs that doubled as tin ceilings, for a simplicity of life that my heart had been longing for and I didn’t even know it.
My heart changed in Costa Rica.
No longer did more traffic and more money and more exposure matter. All that mattered was being a good wife to my husband, a good mommy to my girls, and using the platform of this blog the way that God wants to use it.
It wasn’t just Costa Rica; it was the summer as a whole:
I spent three weeks with a teenage girl, reminding me that my girls will be there before I know it.
Then, I witnessed my youngest almost choke on a quarter.
I received the news that a friend from my newlywed days lost her battle to cancer at age 36, leaving behind two pre-teens and a husband.
All of these things led to a paradigm shift in me.
Upon returning to the United States, I saw things clearly for the first time in a long time: a country and culture of moms running around like crazy, pulled in every direction, slaves to their iPhones and Facebook accounts, while their children grow up under their noses.
It’s hard to see it when you’re in it.
I don’t want to be that woman anymore.
It’s taken intention, but I’ve gone from working nearly full-time on this blog (which was necessary for a long time, to get to a place of generating the income our family needed) to working less than ten hours per week.
Will it always be this way? Probably not, but, for this season, I’m walking in obedience to working less, loving my family more.
For now, God is calling me to pay more attention to my home and know that He will take care of my business.
To be 100% transparent with you, dear readers, when I got back from Costa Rica, I told my husband I wanted to quit. (Knowing that this blog generates the bulk of our family’s income, he told me this scared him.) And our pastor said: “Erin, God has given you this platform for a reason.”
And, truth be told, when I read your emails and comments and get the rare chance to meet you in person, my heart soars that God could use little, ‘ol me, a mama in the trenches just like you, to make some kind of impact on your life.
I don’t want to lose that, but I feel sure that if I keep my family before you, God will reap what He wants out of this planting.
But if you’ve noticed me not being as present on this blog over the past few months, know it’s for a reason. I’ve had to let many, many items on The Humbled Homemaker to-do list go, so I could nurture the Odom family to-do list more.
I’ve gotten a reputation for being busy. I receive hundreds of emails and social media messages each week, and many of them begin with: “I know you are busy.”
Yes, I am busy, but I no longer want to be busy with the wrong things. I want to say “no” more often so I can say “yes” more to my family and to the ministry God has for me through this blog.
Do you ever let things on your to-do list sit undone? What are some items on your to-do list you need to let go during this season of your life?
p.s. Please write me. Please comment and email. I LOVE reading them. While I cannot always respond, I promise that I read every single one, and they bring me so much joy! I love you, friends! <3
I love your heart in this post, Erin! You are such an encouragement.
I had a similar revelation last week. I had set a goal to Periscope every weekday and I did this for 2 weeks, but then decided it was too draining on my time and energy. Letting go of that goal was so freeing. Now I’m going to Periscope when it’s convenient for me and when I’m moved with something to say.
We don’t have to do everything, just the things God calls us to.
Thank you, Sarah! I had to let Periscope go for several weeks and just started back today, but I think I will be doing mostly spontaneous scopes at this point!
I love this post so much.
“Upon returning to the United States, I saw things clearly for the first time in a long time: a country and culture of moms running around like crazy, pulled in every direction, slaves to their iPhones and Facebook accounts, while their children grow up under their noses.”
Yes, yes, yes.
And even though I personally do not have a phone and have just deleted my Facebook account, I still find that I am too much of a slave to the computer (reading blog posts and researching things and blogging) and to my to-do lists. I’m considering turning off the computer itself, just because it is such a slave-master.
Thank you for the encouragement from this article!!
I’m so glad it resonated with you, Diana!
I just want you to know, I love you. 🙂 And you are encouraging to so many of us. So, thank you.
Thank you so much, friend. I love you, too!
What is the best way to connect with you?
This post has inspired me. I’m feeling a transition start in me. I’ve always worked full time, out of the house. It seems necessary financially, but I wonder if there is another way. Missing time with my kids.
What a timely post. I’m in the middle of a hectic, crazy busy week where I have very little time to get things done. All morning, my youngest son has been needy. One thing we were missing here at the house is glue sticks for his homeschool projects. I just keep forgetting to buy these items. I stopped everything I was doing and headed over to the store up the road to purchase him a few art supplies. It was worth it to engage with him and forget about my to-do list for a little while.
I’m so glad it’s not just me! We are all in this motherhood thing together!
Lisa @ This Pilgrim Life
Really great words Erin. And so timely too. Life is happening in full and blogging has been pushed back in the past week or so. Thank you for always sharing your heart so faithfully. It is a blessing to this community!
Thank you so much, Lisa, and thank you for being a part of this community!! I always love to see you here!
[email protected] With the Lid Up
Such good timing for me! I’m in what seems to be one of the busiest times of my life. I have to let some things go and shuffle my priorities.
I’m so glad it was good timing to encourage you!
Good for you listening and obeying God. He will certainly continue to Bless you, your family and your business. You reap what you sow! God Bless you!
Wow… this is amazing Erin. THANK YOU for sharing your insight. May God bless you as you strive for the eternal!
Thank you so much, Katie! Keep on doing the same!
I agree with you completely, we all need to give ourselves a break sometimes. Make sure that you are investing your time into the things that are most important. If you let your family slide, it will affect your business and your own personal life. Keep up the great work on these posts and live unstoppable!
Thank you, Rhonda!
Aileen @ Aileen Cooks
Thank you for sharing this! I have really been struggling with my To Do List vs. time spent with my kids. I’ve been really letting the dishes and laundry slack in favor of them. They are so much more important!
I’m glad you found encouragement!!
Betsy @ A Mother's Road
Love hearing from your heart!! I am constantly pulled in so many different directions. I have two boys under the age of 2 1/2 and I have the type of personality that wants to take on every challenge I hear about! Haha. Yet, I am aware that the time I have with my kids is very important. I need to make time with my husband and it’s a priority of mine to make time for serving the church. Therefore, building my blog and training to be a doula is last on my priorities list. And I won’t ever be a big blog, because I won’t have enought time to pour into it. I have to be okay with that. I am learning to be content to just work in the early morning hours and spend the rest of my day with my family.
Dana @ Midwest Buds
What a great reminder for us all. Put away the “tech” and focus on the “now”. Those little faces don’t stay little forever <3
The old cliché is true: They grow up so fast!
Yes yes thank you yes! Write when you want and we’ll read when we can 🙂
Thank you! <3
Oops! I didn’t realize I was signed in under Will’s name when I left that comment! LOL ~Erin