Family To-Do Lists: Not At All About Groceries, Appointments & Errands

Our lives are full of lists and calendars.  The day-to-day minutia of our lives is recorded and charted.  We take lists to the grocery store.  We download calendar apps that allow all members of our family to see each other’s busy schedules.  We note upcoming bill payments, appointments and other reminders.  These are the details.  They are not the goal.  When I ask people about their vision for their family, they talk about having more time together while taking time for personal care.  They say that they want more quality experiences, more patience and time to really talk to each other.  No one tells me that they want to create the perfect grocery list; yet, we often spend more time focusing on that than on what really matters – creating a list that would lead to a life filled with peace, love and memorable moments of joy.

Get some paper.  Yes – actual paper because you want to stumble across this list daily and not have to click on an app to see it. Gather your family.  It’s time to make a Family To-Do List.  Be sure to include your children in your planning.  They need to know and participate in the goal discussions in the family.  You will be teaching them what really matters, how to make plans and how to work together.
Next – and this is hard – forget about the day to day details and create a vision.  A vision is similar to the resolutions that people like to make for a new year except that it is more often about how you would like to feel.  This year, for example, you might like to have more moments filled with family fun and laughter because they give you great joy.  You might also decide that you want more time to feel like you do when you are on vacation sitting on a beach.  It is also very acceptable to have a vision of taking better care of yourself so you can be more relaxed when your family is together.  We are at our best, after all, when we take care of ourselves, and that is a fine lesson for your children to learn.  No one enjoys a martyr – not even your children who will sense when they are the cause of choices that actually make you unhappy.  When you have come up with a vision that leads to the desired emotion, write it at the top of the page.

Now, it is time to break it down.  What are the steps, individual and concrete steps, that you can take to make that vision happen?  One tiny step at a time, you can create a Family To-Do List that leads to your vision.  Your Family To-Do List may include specific ways you will spend your time at home or exactly how many hours your family will spend together in a week.  Your list may include specific things you will do for yourself that will refresh you.  The list has to be exact and achievable.  You cannot take more vacation time from work that you are allotted, but you can be very exact about how you will spend the time you are given.   Don’t forget about the kids while you are making the list.  It is great when they have ideas that can help your family to reach their goals and you may be amazed at how even young children can give valuable input.

When your Family To-Do List is written, place it somewhere very visible.  We tend to get caught up in the details of our days.   Before we know it, months pass without having done anything to meet our goals.  A visible list will help to keep you focused.   I hope that you get to accomplish some of the steps and that you find great joy in doing so.
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