Editor's note: This content, "A thinking mama's to-do list" by Shawn Ledington Fink, originally appeared on her blog, Awesomely Awake. It has been posted here with the author's permission.

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.

This list is in no particular order. And it certainly is not the be-all and end-all of things a parent can do or would even want to do. And, it doesn’t mean that you have to do everything on this list. It also doesn’t mean you have to do everything on this list every single day. That would be ludicrous. We’re still human beings with lives that have to be taken care of and order to make sense of at times.

My final note on this is that this is my personal to-do list and it’s based on our family’s values, belief system and manifesto, but I thought you might like it, too. We tend to do things a little differently. We tend to think a little differently. Perhaps if you wrote a list — and I encourage anyone to do so — it would look very different.

This is simply one of those gentle reminders we all need. So … here we go.


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!)


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?

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?


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?


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?


Did I let her read. Did I read to her? Did we make reading a top priority today, as we want it to be?

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?


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?

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?

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.

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?

Read more from Shawn Ledington Fink on her blog, Awesomely Awake.

Related lists:

50 lessons I want to teach my daughter

50 rules for dads of daughters