FREEBIE: Care Tasks Checklist
If you've been following my social media at all, you know about my recent struggles with the recurrence of my anxiety and depression. For over a month, it was almost debilitating.
Between that, the deployment, and the current state of the world, I couldn't shake the feeling I was a complete failure.
My house was a mess.
I was a mess.
And that must mean I am less valuable as a mother and as a person.
I wrestled with these feelings daily, even hourly.
In one of my moments where the only energy I could muster I spent scrolling TikTok, I came across a creator that has d r a s t i c a l l y changed my views.
Her name is KC Davis, and her handle is @domesticblisters.
If you are a mom who feels like she's drowning and you are not following her yet, stop what you are doing and go check out her page.
With humor, grace, and the calming lull of her voice, she tackles these feelings of worthlessness and shame tied to housekeeping and mothering and being all the things all the time.
She doesn't label housework as work or as chores: she calls them Care Tasks. In her words, a care task "describes any task, chore, or errand that is required to care for self and keep life going. Typically, these tasks are recurring, never-ending, and are required to be completed in order to 'get on with living.'" This includes cleaning, health, hygiene, and feeding both yourself and those in your household (or anyone else you are responsible for).
On the surface, care tasks "seem" quite simple. Take eating, for example. While it may seem like just the act of putting food in your mouth, it's also finding the time to purchase that food, deciding what to buy, considering any nutritional or dietary restrictions or preferences, knowing what foods meet all those criteria, planning how you're going to eventually make that food, and then setting aside the time to do so as well as ensuring mealtimes occur at the correct interval throughout the day. Planning, executing and follow through of these steps needs to happen daily, multiple times a day, requiring energy and brainpower. This exact same level of insight is repeated with other tasks, like cleaning or basic health and hygiene.
And when you couple it with depression and anxiety, the overwhelm is exhausting.
When I heard this, it made so much sense. I could never understand why I couldn't work up the energy to do the dishes at the end of the day, or why seeing any sort of clutter would send me into a panic, only to feel that nothing I did was every any good enough. I couldn't figure it out to save my life. It was as if I had been wandering around in the dark for the last five years of motherhood and she had handed me a flashlight.
As I started incorporating her techniques into my everyday routine, I started feeling better. I noticed these tasks becoming less difficult and shameful. I've learned mess is neither good, nor bad; it's neutral, and it's existence does not deem me as good or bad.
So as I normally do to combat my sense of overwhelm, I created lists.
I organized my care tasks into activities on a calendar - on Mondays I wash the boys' laundry and clean the kitchen. Anything outside of those two tasks are not my priority for the day. My goal is those two tasks and those two tasks only. When I narrow my focus, these tasks become easier for me to handle, and once they're complete, I feel accomplished, motivated.
There are certain things I try to do everyday. KC Davis affectionately calls these "closing duties," I call them "what my future self would thank me for." These are things like loading/unloading the dishwasher at night so we have clean dishes in the morning, wiping down the surfaces, laying out the boys' clothes for school, and packing their bags. This way, I'm not flustered as soon as I wake up in the morning. But when all else fails, if I got my minimum tasks for the day complete, I call it a win.
These lists have become invaluable to me over the last several weeks. They give me something to check off and feel accomplished in the process. They are meaningful and stabilize my self worth as a mother. If this list sounds like something you need too, I've got something for you:
In a perfect world, my checklist would look like this ^^, but let's be honest, most days it doesn't.
AND THAT'S OKAY.
This is simply a tool that I use when I feel stuck or overwhelmed with the high level picture. And it won't look the same every week either, but at least I'll have some direction.
I hope you found some value in this. If you did, please spread the love with a like, share or comment, and keep on being the rockstar that I know you are!