A Thinking Mama’s To-Do List


In an ideal world, we’re all chugging along with clean houses, perfect children and organized pantries.

And then there’s reality that is so far from perfect it’s not even funny.

Despite all this hoopla I write about being intentional, awake, living fully, etc. etc. etc. let’s face it, life is not always picture perfect.

I try to be the best Mama I can. I do.

Some days I would grade myself with an S for Super Mama!

Some days I go to bed with the grade of an F — Failure. There I go, fretting about the mistakes I made, the things I said that I shouldn’t have said, and all the ginormous, monstrous parenting tests that I failed.

Still, what I know for sure is that our best days are the ones where I forget about Super Mom and just take care of myself and have fun with my kids. The house sits dirty. We’re late for things but that’s OK because we’re relaxed. And we’re too busy connecting and having fun to notice all the other things we’re not doing.

When I just let the routine and order fall to the wayside for an evening and connect with my family I almost always go to bed with a long list of things to be grateful for and a smile on my lips.

To me, it’s the magic potion for happy days.

It’s amazing how many ridiculous, unimportant things we put on our daily to-do lists.

But what about the important things? The things that we hope, dream and wish we could do each day with our children. So, recently I got the bright idea to create another type of to-do list. Not just any to-do list but a Parenting from the Heart to-do list.

A Thinking Mama’s to-do list.

  1. CONNECT – Did I play today? Did I laugh with my child today? Did I ask about their day and tell them about my own? Did we connect and engage in simple ways? (Need ideas to play together as a family? I can give you 100 of them!)
  2. LEARN — Did I involve my child in making dinner or packing her own lunch? Did I show her how to be responsible? Did I ask questions and wait for the answers? Did we take time to explore her interests rather than just acknowledging them and moving on? Did we wonder in awe about the world around us and just marvel at the amazing details?
  3. BE ACTIVE — Did we make moving our bodies a top priority today? Did we get outside and take in the fresh air? Did we walk and talk as a family?
  4. UNPLUG — Did I take time to just be there, to allow for space for anything my child may want to say? Did I show up and hang back and watch her beauty unfold before my eyes so that I don’t miss a thing. Did we soak in some quiet time and just enjoy each other’s company? Did we spend a tiny bit of time unplugged?
  5. LAUGH — Did I laugh? Did I smile? Did I tell a joke or do a silly dance to show her that I’m not taking this life too seriously, that we’re here to have fun and enjoy life fully?
  6. READ — Did I let her read. Did I read to her? Did we make reading a top priority today as we want it to be?
  7. TELL STORIES — Did I show patience while she tells her stories? Did I tell her stories of my own from today, or yesterday or my own childhood?
  8. CREATE — Did we take time to express ourselves in some magical, creative way either through doodling or making things or building crazy castles with fiery mouthed dragons? Did I put my creative mind at work to solve the hard things and to enjoy the simple things?
  9. SHOW LOVE — Did I show my love and not just say the words? Did I do something kind, compassionate, or caring today? Did I demonstrate being a loving person — the kind that I want my child to be? Did we take time to think about others and do something nice or kind for them — maybe in our family or neighborhood, at school or in our community?
  10. LISTEN TO MUSIC — Did we listen to music? Did we dance or clean to it to get our energy flowing? Did we sit and zone out and let the music recharge our souls? This is good for me and this is good for my children.
  11. BE THANKFUL — Did we take time to say what we’re thankful for or journal about our gratitude. Did we write thank you notes to those who have supported us? Did we take time to think about those we love and find ways to express that love to them?

How about you? What is on YOUR to-do list? Did this post trigger any thoughts on things you wanted to do as a parent but maybe haven’t had the time to do? Please leave me a note with your own ideas. They may spark a new idea for me!




40 Responses to A Thinking Mama’s To-Do List

  1. Great Post! Great List! I’m a soon-to-be parent so I’ve found myself searching the internet for tips, advice and common new-parent mistakes. Thanks for the post!

  2. I love this list. At the end of the day I look back and question myself if i did indeed do the items on the list. And I think that tomorrow is another day and Iwill try my best to make sure I do take time out for my kids. Thank you so much for posting this list.

  3. Shawn – I am just in love with this list! You’ve shared so many meaningful ways to build connection and peace into the day to day life with kiddos.

    I try to do some “following” every day – whether it’s encouraging my girls to plan our afternoon, reading a huge stack of books about pigs (my 8-year-old’s passion), or going for a walk at their pace. I love to learn something from them every day!

    By the way, I always leave your posts to read last in my reader, so I can savor them… :)

    • Amy — You know I have been a huge fan of yours for your YEARS so I am just truly honored, flattered, and thrilled you read all of my posts, let alone to save the best for last!! It is a great feeling to know that I am helping women, mamas from around the world, find peace in their heart each day. That’s the mission. That’s my passion. Now, if I could only make money at it! : )

  4. Oh how I adore this idea! I am such a list maker & find my to-do's full of things that "must" get done but don't really matter at the end of the day. Thank you for showing me another way. Must create one of these for our family. :-)

  5. I love you site so much, every time I come here I go away feeling empowered and happier as a parent! Thankyou for sharing your Awesomely Awake ideas with us, because they truly are awesome :)

  6. I loved this idea! Thank you for writing it.

    Here is my list for my relationship with my family

    did i fully LISTEN?
    did we READ together?
    did we have CUDDLE time?
    did i ENJOY each moment?
    was i PRESENT with them?
    did i LAUGH and act silly and PLAY?
    was i a good FRIEND as well as a parent, wife?
    did we CREATE together?
    did we EXPLORE?

    My list for myself:

    Start the day with reflection time (stretching, meditating, walking, journaling)
    Enjoy each moment
    Let go of that which doesn’t serve me or I cannot change
    Live in Love (from a place of love)
    End the day with my gratitude journal

  7. I read your blog almost every chance I get, and every time I read it, I feel like it's speaking straight to my heart. Exactly the kind of parent I strive to be as often as I possibly can. Thank you for the gentle reminders, especially on those harder-than-others kind of days.

  8. Wonderful Shawn. None of us are perfect. But a to do list can help us satisfy all our parenting desires and the needs of our children. Thank you for the reminder. X

  9. Excellent list. I mentally went through and checked what I had and hadn't done. This is a really inspiring post about what is really important in life. I'm pinning this to the Sunday parenting party pinterest board

    • I love this, what was nice was I could tick a good few of those boxes today, it's been a good parenting day. It's so easy to fall into humdrum routine and forget the important things in yours and your childrens life, good find Ray x

  10. great post, I’m pinning this to the Sunday Parenting Party Pinterest board – and then maybe my fridge so I can check off that i have done the to do list (I know you said it was yours but I think I share the values – maybe with the exception of listing to music every day, but then maybe i should)

    • Please do — share and print!! I love music but, like you, I tend to forget about it. Then when I add it to my day, my day just becomes so much more beautiful. My girls love music as well.

  11. After a week of dashing from point A to point Z on those unimportant errors and doing a million little favours for everyone except me and my girls, I was feeling low and exhausted, not only physically, but mentally and spiritually as well.

    Although I helped where help was needed and feel good about giving back to others in that way, the effort outweighed the return on investment. It wasn’t only unfair on me and my time, but on my children’s time and particularly our time together. Which sounds strange, because they were with me all the time (I unschool), but we didn’t connect in any meaningful way and it actually felt like I was pulling that thread very, very thinly.

    Before I snapped, I stopped, took a step back, breathed and decided that today is going to be a day that is calm, relaxed and TOGETHER with my children.

    As always your blog came at just the most perfect time and I can SEE and FEEL that what I had missed out on, and what had made me feel so out of control the past while is exactly the lack of ticking off anything, at least properly, on the Thinking Mother’s To Do List. Interestingly, as I read the list, I realize that I did DO them, but maybe not enough… not fully… not connected… not present… Hard to explain? I just felt rushed and if anything got done, it was out of guilt or as a “consolation”, definitely not from right mindset….

    But I’m inspired to make the time and to make myself fully in the moment with my children when we engage in anything from the list. How wonderfully I anticipate the new day!

    I can pretty much adopt your list as is, as it also reflects our values and interests. Maybe I’ll add a few as the weeks go along…


  12. Shawn this is so wonderful. Do you know what I felt when I read this list? Relief. I just felt relieved that it’s ok to not get the house looking perfect, or finishing the ironing or any of the multitude of chores on my usual to do list. I read this and think, yes, so long as I do that, I’ve done well. Thank you for that!

    • Thanks, Ness. Isn’t it all so overwhelming? That’s why I needed this list. Now if only I could follow it!

  13. Wow love this and going to print it and put it on my mirror to help me remind myself to really connect with the things that are most important to my. My family. Thank you!

  14. […] this week, if playing and enjoying life more as a family is at the top of your Thinking Mama’s to-do list, this is your FINAL week to sign up for my very light and cheery summer e-course The Playful Family […]

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Shawn Fink - Abundant MamaFrom Our Founder

I created The Abundant Mama Project to inspire overwhelmed, busy mothers to slow down and let go of the worries and concerns that are holding them back from experiencing joyful motherhood. Read More »
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