Lists, lists, and the program

I believe that all women, but especially housewives, tend to think in lists; I have always believed, against all opposition, that women think in logical sequence, but it was not until I came to empty the pockets of my light summer coat that year that I realized how thoroughly the housekeeping mind falls into the list pattern, how basically the idea of a series of items, following one another docilely, forms the only possible reasonable approach to life if you have to live it with a home and a husband and children, none of whom would dream of following one another docilely.   –Shirley Jackson, Life Among Savages


Ain’t that the truth.  By reading many of your posts, I know you all agree with me.


I used to use lists sparingly, like when I had a ton of reading and papers to do or that some one was coming to visit and we hadn’t cleaned the condo for weeks. Yet when we were behind the eight ball, like the time my husband convinced me to throw the business Christmas party at our house, it was our buddy J who came to the rescue with his lists: things to buy, things to do, goals to be accomplished.  As J is more organized person, he always told me to set it down in writing.  “You can’t go wrong with the program.”  “Life’s taught me over and over again to stay organized.”  “When my life’s falling apart it’s because I didn’t keep my shit together.”  “One day, Fae, when you’re older, you’ll know that life keeps rubbing your face in it until you figure it out.”  “I’m too stupid not to be organized.”  (Yeah, J has a lot of sayings, but he’s saved our asses more times than can count and that’s a whole post in itself.)  While a few things would be forgotten in the chaos of life, it all worked out in the end.  Until I got pregnant.


When I first became pregnant, I lost my mind.  Sure, I was also losing my breakfast and any Baja-style tacos I ate before I realized fetus-Evan hated them, but it was my mind that I missed the most.  (And it still seems to come and go when it pleases.)  I couldn’t remember to buy the milk I actually went to the store for.  I nearly forgot to buy Christmas gifts for a few people.  I missed a month of bills.  I lost my cell phone!  That’s a big deal for someone who NEVER loses anything.  I left my purse in a bathroom stall of a store, only to remember it when I needed cash to by the items with.  (J was there for that, and he let it go only because I was pregnant and my purse, AKA Jaws Lunch Box, was still there.)  So to save my sanity and Wednesday night’s dinner, I started using lists.  Lists for groceries; lists for chores; lists for bills.  And as long as I don’t deviate from the program I’m fine.



The Program (in list form):


1) A Yearly chart of all the bills that need to be paid, so I can check them off.


2) An ongoing list of groceries on the fridge.


3) A Notebook page: A List of chores for the week, a list of phone calls to make for the week, a list of errands to do that week, the menu for the week.


4) Lists of art supplies, things to do if I’m bored, things to buy when we get the scratch.


5) Ongoing lists of what to write in the blog.


6) List of issues needed to be discussed with my husband.  (After a long day with boys I forget to talk to the husband about the bills to be paid or setting a date for when we’ll leave for Christmas.)



I hate being this organized.  I’ve always been one of those messy-organized girls, who might have a huge stack of paper on her desk but knows exactly what’s in that stack, which doesn’t work if you have two kids and a messy husband.  But now if I deviate from the program, this house of cards will fall.  Bills will be forgotten, random food won’t be bought, my friend V won’t get her weekly voice mail message of “hi, I know you’re crazy busy, but maybe you could find the time to call me,” and I’ll forget that cute thing Sean did or Evan said, so that I have to write a blog about writing lists.  Of course, I have to relearn the lesson of ALWAYS follow the program about a million times.  I’m a slow learner.


Homer:    Blame me if you must, but don't ever speak ill of the Program!  
The Program is rock solid!  The Program is sound!

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14 Responses to “Lists, lists, and the program”

  1. badmommymoments Says:

    1) lists are good

    2) franklin coveys are better

    3) post-its are the BEST

  2. C Says:

    I don’t use lists, unless you count the ones in my head. I rarely even make a grocery list. I should make lists more often. My house is a mess.

  3. outside voice Says:

    I make lists upon lists and still forget to do stuff. I don’t seem to have the capacity for follow-through, somehow. (Note: this is wholly and completely post-kids. Before then, I was sickeningly organized.)

  4. sarcasmisonemoreserviceioffer Says:

    I’m just like Outside Voice. I make lists but, still forget to do stuff. Not sure what to do about

  5. faemom Says:

    Badmommymoments: I’m not a fortune 500 company, if I was I would have a better list. Besides Convey frightens me. I tend to lose post-its because of the twin tornadoes love them so.

    C: I don’t know how you can shop without a list. Do the girls come with you?

    Outside Voice: You were one of THOSE people, and you deserve it :-b

    Sacrasm & Outside Voice: Where do you leave your lists? If I leave mine anywhere but a top shelf that only I am tall enough to get to, my list gets shredded and often eaten.

  6. outside voice Says:

    Sarcasm, it’s good to hear that I’m not alone!

    Faemom, who is eating lists at your house? Or shredding them? Do Garfield live with you?

  7. outside voice Says:

    Er, that should be: DOES Garfield…

    In my defense, I tried to fix it before it was submitted and then I got a little message that said, “You are posting messages too quickly. Slow down.” Wow, wordpress can be rude! Harrumph.

  8. C Says:

    Of course they come with me. I try to go when my oldest is at school in the AM, one less always helps out. And I guess I just know what I need in my head. We walk from the back of the store to the front, or from left to right depending on the store, until I have what I need. If I am on my game I can be done in 15 min!!

  9. faemom Says:

    Outside Voice: Sean has been known to eat lists, or rather a bite or two before I scream and get it out of his mouth. Don’t know why I scream; it’s just paper.

    C: Ok, I can’t keep my head together during shopping, like today is the SECOND time I went and forgot the graham crackers. But I do see how you can manage if you go into every aisle.

  10. C Says:

    It is more like racing up one isle and down the next. I have what is down each memorized, so it is pretty easy. If I were to go alone…I would have it done fast. Oh on a separate note I found out that I can french braid 2 heads, if they sit still, in 3 minutes. I am getting good at that!!

  11. I made a list!! « A Mothers Walk Says:

    […] Well I made a list.  I can’t believe it.  I have to give the credit for this list to faemom for her list post.  I never make them and honestly nothing gets done.  But today I made one.  I […]

  12. faemom Says:

    Ooo, I’m completely impressed by the french braids. And let’s hope that they never reorganize your supermarket.

  13. mediocreperfectionist Says:

    Ok… I LOVE to plan “I’m seriously getting it together this time” systems but I never follow through for more than a few weeks. I also love to make lists, my problem is once I’ve made the list the exercise ends. (Checking the list seems to be key to success with the whole list thing.) However, I did stumble upon the Queen Mother of ALL Systems for the List lover… Getting Things Done. Oh… so many lists, all so neatly stacked in my little red leather (with top stitching) Franklin Covey Planner. I really should go back and read through them more often.

  14. faemom Says:

    So you would agree with Badmommymoments when it comes to Franklin Covey? I should check it out. And see the key really is checking things off as you go so you don’t forget and then you get a real inflate on your self esteem.

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