Bargaining With My To-Do List


I had another weekend filled with bargaining. No, I didn’t attend an estate sale, nor was I on a negotiating team. I bargain with my to-do list. Each weekend, I fill the list with all of the household chores that need to be done, and immediately my mind starts the bargaining process.

If I clean the cat boxes before breakfast, then I can enjoy a leisurely breakfast without guilt. If I finish the vacuuming, I can go outside and relax on the porch for a while before tackling the mopping. I can do the laundry while I’m working on other chores, and fit in the folding between chores and breaks. If I get the cat boxes and vacuuming done today, I can do the laundry and clean the bathrooms tomorrow. If I’m going to a friend’s house at 3:00, then I need to get at least these three things done before I go.

I can be a bit obsessive about my time. At this point in my life, I find I feel that I “deserve” the time to relax and do nothing, if I feel like it. But my strong sense of responsibility causes me to make these deals with myself. If I just relax all day, I feel guilty for not taking care of the things on my list. As I sit there, trying to read, write, or cruise Pinterest, that guilt starts picking away at my relaxation. It creeps in, and before you know it, I am up vacuuming, or swishing out a toilet. And if I don’t get much done on my list for the entire weekend, I wake up on Monday feeling behind from the get-go.

In my younger days, I had energy to do household chores during the work-week, after I got home from teaching all day. I could clean the house, mow the lawn, work in the garden…all in addition to working all day, making dinner, and even taking a walk after dinner. Now, in my “golden” years, I find it difficult to get dinner made some days! I might tackle a small chore or two when I get home from work, but just the thought of cleaning the house or mowing the lawn during the week wears me out! Back then I didn’t feel so torn on the weekends…do I clean, or do I enjoy my time off from work?

I try to be less consumed with chores these days, and use my time for what really matters, or what I really want to be doing. And I always try to fit in some down time on the weekends…time when I’m not consumed with what’s on the list, when I can just relax and recharge for the week ahead. I’ve been told that sometimes I set my standards too high, expecting to get way too much done. I’ve tried to begin to look at it more realistically, and allow myself to feel good about what I get done, and not beat myself up so much over what I didn’t get done. 


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