My ‘Don’t-Do List’

posted by Andrea | 07/19/2018

don't do list

My 2018 “summer vacation from blogging” is sharing one week of reposts each month… this week is my July repost week.

Today’s repost is an updated version of one I originally shared back in July of 2013 — I find it interesting that my list of “don’t-dos” has remained almost exactly the same, even 5 years and 3 kids later! 

There is always a lot of discussing on the topic of “having it all” in regards to a successful life. In one sense, I personally don’t think it’s possible to “have it all”, but in another sense, I feel that if we clearly define what “having it all” means for us, there’s a decent chance we can strive to have the things that are most important to us.

However, that requires allocating more of your time to the things that ARE important to you, and significantly less time to the things that AREN’T all that important to you.

This is where having a “don’t-do list” comes in handy!

Of course, what’s important for me might not be important for you and vice-versa, so everyone’s don’t-do list will look different… that’s perfectly OK. The point is not what’s on the list, but more that you actually have a thought-out list of things you don’t (or even won’t) spend time on, thus, freeing up more of your time to spend on other things that ARE more important to you.

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.

No, I don’t literally have a “don’t-do list” written out on paper, but I do have a mental list of things that I’ve specifically chosen NOT to spend my time on at this point in my life (and yes, that list changes over time).

Personally, I feel everyone could benefit from making some sort of don’t-do list.

Here are a few of the things on MY don’t-do list.

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!

UPDATE: my kids definitely DO make time for crafts — and I’m completely fine with that. I just personally don’t want to spend my own free time working on crafts!

Here’s a look at my kids’ new craft space (it’s pretty cute!)

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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 a little bronzer and mascara, and wear a handful of my mix-and-match pieces of clothing every day.

I get my hair cut every 4 weeks like clockwork and I do it basically the same way every day (here’s a video of how I style it). 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, I wear the same 2 pairs of earrings all the time, I hate shopping, and I usually won’t wear something unless it’s really comfortable.

If I had to, I could easily be out the door 15 minutes after waking up (provided I didn’t need to get children ready or eat breakfast).

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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 summer long, ALL Christmas break, ALL spring break, ALL weekend, ALL evening after 3:30pm, 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 birthday outing, we don’t do dates.

This is partially because our kids go to bed super early so we can just enjoy being home in the peace and quiet, 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, we don’t want to go “downtown” or to the beach, and we’ve never gone on vacation alone since our honeymoon.

We like doing house projects, soaking in the peace and quiet, having adult conversations, and eating brownie sundaes after the kids go to bed at night.

I know this wouldn’t work for everyone, but it works for us, and it frees up time, money, and energy for other things.

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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 marshmallows or tortillas. Yes, I make many of our meals from scratch, but I also serve hotdogs, chicken nuggets, and macaroni on occasion.

I know lots of people who prioritize making every single thing from scratch — and that’s COMPLETELY FINE because they are willing to let other things fall through the cracks (potentially things that are more important to me). It’s all a game of give-and-take, figuring out what you’re willing to spend your time and energy on… and what you’re not willing to spend it on.

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Vacations and other planned activities.

I know we must sound super boring by now… but I promise, we still have tons of fun (and I think my kids would agree). We just don’t do traditional vacations or planned outings in the same ways so many of our friends and family do.

Life with 4 kids 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. We are fortunate to live walking distance to so many things, and we definitely take advantage of the various free and frugal activities in our surrounding neighborhoods.

We also all love spending time outside, participating in school/church functions, having friends and family over, and just hanging out together (we can still get away with this since our kids are  young!)

We’ve never been to a water park or an amusement park, we’ve never been to a museum, we’ve never been to the zoo, we’ve never done a formal “beach day” with just our family, we might never make it to Disney if Dave and I have our way, and up until this summer we’ve never put our kids in any sports or team events.

This is not to say we won’t ever do these activities or we won’t ever take our kids on vacation — just not right now!

Once they are older, I’m certain we will enjoy more planned vacations and fun outings, but for now, riding bikes to the library and stopping to have snacks at a local park are super exciting for my kids… and super easy for me to pull off, so that’s what we do!

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Formal exercise.

Despite the fact that I played 3 sports in high school and 2 sports in college, I have absolutely zero desire to do any sort of formal exercise (at least not right now). I don’t mind getting sweaty, or dirty, or working hard, I just can’t get excited about exercising just to exercise.

I go for walks, I do yard work and house work, I chase after my kids, and I move a lot during the day, but that’s about it.

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.

Dave is big into exercising and enjoys running, biking, basketball, etc, so I’m hoping his enthusiasm wears off on me one of these days! 🙂

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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 mean I had 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’m not sure it’s possible to “have it all”, but I do think it can be possible to have “all of what is important to us right now” if we prioritize and set clear boundaries as to how we will (and will not) spend our 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. That’s just part of life.

What would be on your don’t-do lists?

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57 comments

  1. Debbie

    07/26/2018

    One thing that would definitely be on my Don’t Do List is to do crafts. Although I have an artistic side I don’t think I really got into crafting. I do a little bit of calligraphy here and there, made wreaths various times in the past for gifts and for decorating our home but that’s about it. Sewing is something I do because of necessity and not necessarily as a hobby. Making digital photo albums and still a struggle for me. I’ve made them but I can’t keep up to get a yearly album. I’ve gone to an album with 2 years worth of pictures, but still struggle. It definitely needs a block of my time for me to do it and not just squeezing in a few minutes here and there.

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  2. Melissa Koeppel

    07/23/2018

    It made me smile to read this – this was my first entry I ever read from your blog. Ah, the memories…

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    Andrea Reply:

    aww… yes, I definitley remember writing it so it was fun to go back and update it a bit last week!

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  3. Georgia

    07/19/2018

    I agree with you on so many of your choices. I have a very basic wardrobe so I never have to worry what I will wear. I do not fuss with tons of makeup and I also wear short hair for that matter it seems to be getting shorter all the time. I hate shopping so looking for clothes, makeup and such things is not on my to-do-list. Hubby and I have been married 51 years and never been on a real vacation. We have gone to business conventions and religious conventions in other locations so it is not like we have never gone anywhere. It is just not planned vacations. Food wise we do have to do more from scratch because of health issues. Crafts, yes I love to quilt and yes the tools and such can add up and be a pain sometimes but I would not give up my quilting. I hate formal exercise and that is bad for me because I am more of a low key person, reading, sewing and things of this sort, not much movement. It is nice to see that there are others that feel the way I do on some issues. Wishing you and your family a great day.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks so much Georgia! I loved reading through your list!

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  4. Mary in Maryland

    07/19/2018

    I don’t do makeup. I don’t bake. I don’t watch television or go to movies. I don’t go to sales parties. We only eat out once a month or so, although we do have company for several meals a month. This last is tongue in cheek–we didn’t have children–but it’s an immense time-saver.

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — yes, I suppose not having children would save you LOTS of time, money, energy, etc. !

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  5. Jody

    07/19/2018

    As a single person with no kids, I prefer to be home. After working all day I like to come home and just chill. I like to read and journal. I’m a true introvert. Most of your don’t list is what would be on my list too.

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  6. Annette Silveira

    07/19/2018

    One more post that suggests knowing yourself and allowing yourself to be fully who you are. So good. I don’t feel the need for outside commitments. We take care of our granddaughter three days a week. We take her to visit extended family, to the library, to the park. Those days are fun and full. The other days I may not even leave the house but I don’t feel lonely or that I’m missing out on anything.

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes exactly! know yourself and don’t try to be someone you’re not!

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  7. 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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