My ‘Don’t-Do List’

posted by Andrea | 07/8/2013

don't do list

A few months ago, I wrote about post about “having it all”. In that post, I mentioned that I think it IS possible to “have it all” — depending how we define “having it all”.

For me, I define “having it all” as:

A happy family, a healthy baby, a growing business, the ability to support Dave as a teacher and coach, a relatively clean & organized home, a smart financial plan, and a little time left over for fun.

If I can achieve all of those things (even if I have to make many sacrifices in other areas of my life) I feel like I’m doing OK.

There was lots of good debate in the comments of that post — some who agreed with me, others who did not — but I think the most important message I wanted share is that we all need to figure out what our priorities are and then how to make the time for those priorities.

We’re all busy and we all have only 24 hours a day. Because of this, we all need to make choices as to how we will AND WILL NOT spend those 24 hours. I’ve personally struggled with this over the years — especially after becoming a mom — but I’ve made my choices, and I feel pretty good about them.

You know how much I love lists… right? Well, I don’t literally have a “don’t-do list”, but I do have a mental list of things that I’ve specifically chosen NOT to spend my time on — and I think everyone would benefit from making some sort of don’t-do list.

Obviously your list will be different than mine, but if you’re wondering what activities I DON’T make time for… keep reading.

Crafts.

I know this might be a surprise, but I really do not like crafts. I don’t like all the little parts and pieces, I don’t like storing craft items or finished craft projects, and I find the act of doing any sort of craft extremely frustrating.

I do enjoy working on larger house/yard projects, I do enjoy painting furniture, and I do enjoy sewing from time to time… but other than that, I’m not crafty.  Sometimes I wish I was more crafty, but then I remind myself how much space, time, money, and frustration I save by being “craft challenged”!

I have found that I enjoy making digital photo albums — but I think that’s mainly because it requires no parts or pieces and I can do it all from my computer!

Extensive grooming.

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to call this category — I even enlisted Dave’s help — and “extensive grooming” is the best we could come up with :)

I come from a family of all girls, and while we were all college athletes and not afraid to get dirty, we were all quite girly too. So while I always try to look put-together, and I do enjoy getting dressed up every now and then, I’ve never been one to enjoy spending mass amounts of time or energy painting my nails, doing my hair or make-up, wearing cutesy clothing and accessories, or shopping for these items.

I take 5-minute showers, let my hair air-dry (which only takes about 10 minutes because it’s short), apply my favorite facial cream, lip gloss, and mascara, and wear one of my 7 identical t-shirts almost every day (seriously, I even wore one of those t-shirts for my website photo-shoot!)

I get my hair cut by my cousin every 6-8 weeks, and once-in-a-while I’ll get it highlighted. I’ve never had a manicure or pedicure, I’ve never had a facial, I’ve never had a massage, I’m way too claustrophobic for tanning booths, my make-up drawer is almost empty, I wear the same 2-3 pairs of earrings all the time, I hate shopping, and I don’t wear something unless it’s really comfortable (or unless it’s a really special occasion).

I’m most definitely NOT a “tom-boy”; I just don’t enjoy spending my time in this way — at least not on a daily basis (and remember, I work from home so that makes a difference too.)

Date nights.

OK, so before you start thinking I’m the most horrible wife, just let me remind you that Dave is a teacher and I work from home — so we are together ALL day ALL summer long, ALL Christmas break, ALL spring break, ALL weekend, etc. etc. We see a lot of each other and we do a lot of fun things together, but we honestly don’t go on many dates.

Besides a very rare mom-and-dad-only trip to Olive Garden, Culver’s, or the Home Depot, we don’t do dates. This is partially because Nora can be a huge pain for babysitters, but also because we don’t really like doing “date things”. We don’t like going to movies, we don’t like expensive restaurants, we’re not big fans of plays or shows or “downtown”.

We like doing house projects, soaking in the peace and quiet, having adult conversations, and sipping smoothies after Nora finally goes to bed at night, and we like doing things with our family and friends (most of which have kids the same age as Nora).

I know we don’t have a picture-perfect marriage, but I also don’t think we’re in shambles over here either. There are times when a couple hours away from Nora (or even an hour totally alone) does a world of good, but for the most part, we don’t need a “date night” to achieve that.

Cooking 100% from scratch.

If you’ve ever made any of my recipes, I hope you were pleasantly surprised by how good the foods taste, how easy they were to prepare, and how little time you had to spend in the kitchen to prepare them.

I honestly do enjoy cooking and baking, but for me, it’s more about making yummy foods in less time than it is about meticulously crafting complicated meals or cooking 100% from scratch.

cooking

Yes, I sometimes make my own bread, but I’m also not opposed to baking brownies from a box — or at least starting with a boxed mix and adding some of my own ingredients.  Yes, I preserve much of my own foods (because I enjoy doing this) but I don’t make my own ketchup, or taco seasoning, or marshmallows, or salad dressing. Yes, I make many of our meals partially from scratch, but I also serve hotdogs, chicken nuggets, and macaroni on a semi-regular basis.

On a side note, I just realized that I’m wearing the exact same black t-shirt in this picture of me cooking and in the head shot above :)

Vacations and other planned activities.

I’m honestly not sure how to word this one without sounding like we are super boring! I promise that we still make time for fun, just not in the ways we did before Nora was born…

Nora has some pretty intense “sensory issues” so going to strange places, busy places, loud places, smelly places, etc. is basically an invitation for massive toddler melt-downs and screaming fits. So lucky for Nora, Dave and I really enjoy being home (see the “Date Nights” section above).

Life with Nora is A LOT easier if we are home, and since I personally don’t like spending a ton of time, energy, or money planning extensive vacations or activities, we make our own fun at home. Nora loves walks and we’re fortunate to live walking distance to so many things. We all love spending time outside, participating in school/church functions where Nora is more “at ease”, and having people over to our house instead.

sandbox fun

Formal exercise.

Despite the fact that I played 3 sports in high school and 2 sports in college, I have a strong hatred of exercise. I don’t mind getting sweaty, or dirty, or working hard — if I’m trying to win a game… I just can’t get the hang of exercising just to exercise.

I go for walks, I do yard work and house work, but I’ve never been a member of a gym, I’ve never owned any exercise equipment, and the last time I ran was when I decided to enter a 25K race back in college. I’ve never been a runner but decided I wanted to run a race at some point, so I entered, trained, ran, finished, and then never ran again.

I’ve tried doing yoga or other video-related activities in my house, I’ve tried swimming, I’ve tried lifting weights, but the only thing that I actually do on a semi-regular basis is walk (and that’s only because Nora LOVES walks).

Dave is big into exercising and enjoys running, biking, basketball, etc, so I’m hoping his enthusiasm wears off on me before my metabolism poops out :)

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I know that if I really wanted to, I could most definitely choose to make more time for any of the activities I listed above. However, that would then require me to spend less time working on house projects, growing my business, keeping our lives relatively organized, or spending time with family and friends. And at this point in my life, I’m not willing to make that trade off.

As I mentioned above, I think we can “have it all” if we prioritize and set clear boundaries as to what is (and is not) important to us. Obviously, we can’t literally “have it all” and we certainly can’t have it all ALL the time… but I do think we can have all of what is important to us MOST of the time.

If that makes any sense :)

I suppose that until someone figures out a way to add hours to the day or clone me, I will continue to make choices and sacrifices on a daily basis. 

What would be on your don’t-do lists?

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47 comments

  1. Vickie

    07/08/2013

    Bravo! Loved this post . . . ditto on crafts, love manis and pedis, however! At least pedis for sandal weather. You are an amazing young wife and mom, and it’s a breath of fresh air to read someone who understands and is comfortable in her own skin. Blessings!

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  2. Deb

    07/08/2013

    LOVED this post. I am terrible at crafting, our “vacations’ are always to Grandmas (but we live in a beautiful place in MT where others come to vacation), I would hate someone touching my feet and the idea of a stranger giving me a massage, yuck, but I do love cooking from scratch, especially baking. Date nights are fun but as with the messy house=happy children analogy, the date nights=happy marriage analogy also falls short. The key to all of life is balance, giving up what you don’t feel is necessary to free up the budget and calendar for what is necessary and important. We all make time for what we WANT to make time for and seem to find the money for what we put a value on. LOVE your honesty.

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  3. Debby

    07/08/2013

    Another great post that once again convinces me we were sisters in another life. I too am a homebody. Love working on my house and yard. Will walk anywhere, but never run there. My husband and I do like occasional date nights, but that’s because our daughters are 15 and 17 and spend lots of time with their friends these days. We do love vacations, but with two girls headed to college pretty soon, those are pretty simple getaways. I don’t love clothes (although I do spend more than $1 a year haha) One time a friend came over and I showed her our recently painted and reorganized walk in closet. She asked me when I was going to put the rest of my clothes back in. They were already there and hanging. I don’t have a don’t do list per say. Just like things simpler.

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  4. Ginger

    07/08/2013

    Oh Andrea! Everything you said is so me. I used to say I was a crafter-wanna-be. Thought I needed some creative outlet. Turns out…I don’t. :). My last child is a senior and I have always kept a few “crafty” things in a drawer just in case of a school project and that is about to go bye-bye. I am low maintenance when it comes to appearance. Just the basics. Looove walking and hiking at our local nature preserve. I have made my life not busy by choice because my kids are about grown and I like just being home where it’s nice and quiet. We go out now and then but when we feel like it. I remember one time you said you didn’t listen to music in the car and I commented that “I didn’t either!” Peace and quiet. I am 50 and sitting in the yard having conversation with family and friends is close to perfect for me. Thanks for sharing. I enjoy reading your blog VERY much. Even though I am older and from Ohio I still think we could be friends. :)

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  5. Dorie

    07/08/2013

    Loved this post. It was like someone was writing about me, thought there was something wrong with me that I didn’t think like most people. I am not crafty, i find i dont have the attention span for that type of thing. i abhor exercise (also have a good metabolism so far) but I don’t mind physical labor at all which feels like I’m accomplishing something whereas exercise bores me. I personally have no desire to travel, but who knows that may change as I get older. I really don’t enjoy doing hair or makeup (really aren’t we just dressing up to impress other women, men don’t notice when we change our hair or makeup). I do enjoy cooking, my family appreciated the food I prepare that is from scratch and healthy. I like to experiment to keep things from getting boring, my husband always jokes that we never eat the same thing twice. I think keeping life simple helps us to become closer, where are we focusing our energy?
    Thanks I really appreciate this article!

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  6. JoDi

    07/08/2013

    Love your “don’t do” list. I’m sure we all have one whether we’ve consciousky thought about it that way or not. My list is similar and different from yours, and it has changed through the years. One example is how I exercise. Belonging to a gym was on my don’t do list for years. I exercised at home and loved it, but now I have a gym membership and LOVE it. My interests changed and the type of exercise I love to do now is different than it used to be so gym membership is near the top of my DO list now. ;-)

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  7. Paige

    07/08/2013

    I love this post. I love how real, and realistic, you are! You are totally relatable, and that keeps me coming back!

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  8. Chris

    07/09/2013

    Your post really got me thinking about my own priorities! I realized over the last 1 or 2 years that apparently I am a HSP (highly sensitive person) who does not like loud or chaotic places or big events with hundreds of people, also I love to have some quiet time over the day or week for myself. For a long time, I felt guilty and boring about these traits but your post made me realize that this is just the way I am and that in order to be happy (and stay sane) I need to respect the way I am.

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  9. Lisa

    07/09/2013

    Oh you sound like me and my hubby we home body’s to love just being home with our family I can’t even sew love to can cook not a crafter just love my family we don’t do date nights either and Nora looks just like you she so cute!

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  10. Sarah

    07/09/2013

    Love this post!

    I have just recently began identifying my priorities, and while difficult it has been quite uplifting! Knowing what I want, and what I don’t really need, has been a life changer! I’m still in the process of working through it all, so this post came at a perfect time for me!

    Thank you!

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  11. Kathryn Bechen

    07/10/2013

    Great insight into a “don’t do” lifestyle Andrea! Wise too. I like your tips about no extensive grooming for gals. You’re so naturally
    cute that you don’t need extensive grooming! I like your short haircut and the scarf adds some cute “chic.” :)

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  12. Jamie Rohrbaugh

    07/12/2013

    Lawn care. I always tried to do it until this year. My DH is allergic to grass. But I struggled and it looked awful most of the time. Then, two months ago, my DH had a seizure out of the blue and can’t drive for 6 months. That means all the stuff he did–running errands, getting groceries–I have to do too. So, lawn care went out the window. The lawn service is the best $80 a month I’ve ever spent. I hope to never go back. LOL

    I don’t do much makeup either. Foundation and blush is about it. And my idea of cooking most of the time is to put beans, cheese, and sour cream in a tortilla and fry it. Nutritious, I know… but it keeps us alive. :)

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  13. Lizanne

    07/13/2013

    Your idea of a ‘don’t do’ list was an eye-opener for me, and well-timed, as I found myself complaining (again) this past week about not having time for this or that, not being able to make progress with certain goals, etc.. I have a somewhat long commute to a job I don’t like, which sucks a lot of energy out of me. I often will feel overwhelmed by my everyday to-do lists, so much that I can barely think about the larger picture to-do’s. However, this refreshing idea of a ‘don’t do’ list may be helpful in clarifying my priorities. Thanks to all for your great comments, and thanks Andrea, I really look forward to your posts!

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  14. Stefani

    08/03/2013

    Amen! I am sooooo not a crafty person. I’ll bust it out every once in a while–like Halloween or an important school project, but even then, I keep it simple. “Vacations” are only to visit family. And with three kids from 3-8, we keep any outings simple, too. No crazy summer schedule drawn up here… just sprinkles of pooltime, parktime and a science museum thrown in. But really, I am sooooo glad to hear that someone else eschews date nights. My husband is also a teacher and I stay at home with my three kids (homeschooling), so just like you, we see each other A LOT, and we carve out time at home to do things together, rather than planning date nights every week.

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  15. andrea

    08/23/2013

    I just found your blog and love this post (funnily enough, i am andrea, married to a dave….) :)

    Our summer has been insanely overscheduled. We just agreed that next year that baseball stays but volleyball goes. Likewise, i normally make lunches, but for the past month time and energy has not allowed so I’ve decided to not feel guilty about buying them a few times a week (till life settles down in a couple weeks, anyway). i still need to minimize my schedule some more, but the decision is there and it will happen as things naturally end and i consciously choose to not replace them with ‘something else.’

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — crazy! Looks like our parents both picked good names for their kids :)

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  16. Luc

    08/30/2013

    Oh your post rang a big bell with me! I have a lot of the same things that I don’t spend time on. Honestly, I’d rather be reading, going for a walk with my family, or something “constructive” than doing formal exercise or extensive grooming. I’m a crafting wannabe because I love paper/stationery and sewing so if I find time to fit in “crafting” it’s usually trying to construct the perfect planner or home management binder. And all the niggly bits, much like the kids Lego, are neatly stored in simple organising boxes so I can pack away out of sight in a jiffy.

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