In the early days after Ellerie was born, I was in love with her but also exhausted, in pain and overwhelmed. I was also clinging to anything that resembled my old normal. Every night I choose three things that I would get done the next day. Before falling asleep (for the first of many times), I wrote my to-do list.
In the beginning it was incredibly simple stuff. Write three thank you notes. Wash a load of whites. Deposit the check that came. Schedule follow-up doctor's appointment. Order more burp clothes. Upload photos.
Three things. I had to get out of bed, shower, eat, help take care of the baby and complete three simple tasks. That was it. Those were my days. The point was not to actually get the thank yous written or the clothes washed, the point was to re-establish normalcy. It was to feel the accomplishment of setting tiny goals and crossing them off.
Because that is how I function. To-do lists are my jam and I had just written down the largest item on my life list: Learn how to be a mother. Like my marriage, this task is one that I will work on and adjust daily, but it's one that I fervently hope and pray I never "cross-off."
Parenthood felt huge those early weeks. Immeasurable and vast. In comparison, my simple to-dos were manageable and accomplishing little things gave me satisfaction and allowed me to be better at my other, much larger tasks - healing and mothering.
Eventually (around the magic six weeks), things evened out and I returned to a more normal lifestyle - with a completely different goal-setting outlook that I will need to talk about in a different post. But the takeaway for me was how relevant keeping up with little things can be when the big things start to overwhelm. I do not plan on recovering from surgery or adding another little one to our lives for a long (long) time. But for sure things are going to feel out of control again and again in this new normal. When they do, I'll remember the success of picking just "three things" and use it to help get through.
Since writing this post, I created Get To Work Book! It's a day planner + goal setting workbook that is designed to help you take your big goals turn them into something real. And, of course, every day has 3 main action items. Learn more and shop the brand here.
Other posts you might enjoy:
- on motivation
- how I tackle huge projects.
- time spent consuming vs. creating.
- how I keep my daily tasks organized.
- why I set goals
- the difference between goals and to-do list items.
- tips for success with long-term projects
- more thoughts on "balance."
- creative books I always return to.