My first two days of halving my to-do list went very well. On Sunday I had my most uncluttered Thanksgiving ever. Once the turkey went into the oven I took the rest of the afternoon off except for doing a load of laundry. After dinner I packed away the food, then went and put my feet up. What a lovely day.
Monday went great as well. Except that during my long afternoon and evening breaks I picked up a new book - Dr. Laura's Ten Stupid Things Married Couples Do - boy was that a slap in the face!
Have you read any of her stuff? I'll admit I hate her radio show. I feel like she is often rude and mean-spirited to her callers, far beyond what is necessary to prove her point. I like her books, though, and this one was spot on.
What grabbed me most was what she had to say about selfishness. One reason I have wanted to cut my to-do list in half is that I've been going around feeling very "put-upon" about all the things I have to do. I have four kids and a husband, and we all have activities outside the home on top of homeschooling, housework and classes. I'd like to say that I don't complain out loud, but I do - often.
Dr. Laura talks a lot about how when you start complaining about aspects of your marriage - whether you're feeling put-upon, angry, resentful or just bored - it's time to take a look at what you are doing to fix things. Are you waiting for your spouse to take some of the load off of you? Well, what have you done lately for them? If you sow discontent, are you surprised when discontent is what you reap?
I tried something new today. When I spent a minute writing out my "thankfuls" this morning, I also wrote a short list of things I could do for the other members of my family. Ways I could "give back". It helped. I started off the day looking forward to some of my chores I normally complain about because I knew there was a higher purpose - it was a way for me to express my love to my children and husband. All well and good.
But something happened I wasn't prepared for. I got an ear-full! My kids complained about school, about homeschooling assignments, about the way we school, about getting up this morning, about their bed-times, about our town - even about the country we live in. I don't know why I was shocked - I talk like that all the time. Every negative thing that came out of their mouths for the most part was something I myself have said over the last year. Talk about reaping discontent.
So, my to-do list got longer today. I decided I needed to add a few things to it:
1. Model responsibility.
2. Model gratitude.
3. Model helpfulness.
4. Model diligence.
I'm glad I carved out some space for myself this week; it sure gave me the opportunity make a major course correction for the rest of the year.