Monday, March 3, 2008

To-Do Lists?

My style always has been a neat, frequently-checked, carefully-maintained to-do list on a notepad sitting alone on a relatively tidy desk.

And then I had kids.

Now that same notepad seems to scream to 3 year old Bella "take out that glittery colored pen from the desk drawer and graffiti me beyond recognition" and to 18 month old Bean "rip me into bite-sized pieces and consume me."

So, while we're on the topic of home organization, how in the world do you keep your to-do lists safe from artsy and/or hungry toddlers? Have you scrapped to-do lists altogether and come up with a better and less vulnerable system for managing your day-to-day checklists?

I've considered a dry-erase board mounted on the wall above my desk, but I'm afraid that will only encourage the kids to make their own "to-do lists" on other parts of the wall that will be none too easy to erase.



Mary Alice said...

I keep my to-do lists on large pads in a notebook, so I can close it, not much of a barrier but perhaps enough? When I am actively using it, I often put it on the kitchen counter, which they can't reach.

You can't bring a white board with you, that is my struggle because I use lists for out of the house errands as well.

One thing, there is not much you can do about the baby, but scribbling toddlers are showing two things -- one, I want to write, two, I don't respect your property. So, I would set up an area where she is allowed to write (pencil and washable crayons), then tell her that she may not write at your desk.

This may sound silly, but I had a montessori directress as a neighbor when PT was 2 and 3, and she taught me that my child was so obstinate because he was expressing certain developmental needs for which he had no outlet, so just punishing was making him more difficult, but a combination of giving him things of his own to do and then consequences for broken rules seemed to work better.

Do this in a non-confrontational moment. Make a big show of adding things that are fun for her to your list, Look Bella, I am going to put "chocolate chips" on the list so that we can make cookies tomorrow, Mommy uses her list to keep track of what we need from the store. It is important to leave Mommy's list on the desk, would you like to write your own list?

Kids who are at home with you all day want to do what you are doing, for better or worse.

Katherine said...

I have two lists. A dry erase board on the wall as a general list for everything I need to do from stuff to get at Lowes to potty training my daughter. Then I have a pad of paper on the counter she can't reach for grocery lists or any other shopping lists I need to take with me.

Sandra said...

I use a Momagenda! There are spaces for your menu, to-do lists, and spaces for each kid. Put it on your Christmas list- it's a little pricey.

By the way- I found your site from a link on Rod Dreher's blog.

Kat said...

Mary Alice, I love your interpretation of the situation - that Bella is going after mom's to-do list because she is actually developmentally ready to have her own supplies for writing/organizing. Part of it is probably also just that she wants to mimic what she sees you doing - she sees that your lists are an important part of your day, and she just wants to be like her mama! We haven't done any sort of a chart or list for C on any consistent basis, but I loved Mary Alice's idea of posting a list of bedtime activities on the bathroom door. I wonder if Bella would get a kick out of having a list like that for her daytime activities, where she could check off the activities herself? Of course, I should probably do the same for C, but am not feeling the motivation to do so today :) If you do it, let me know how it goes :)

In terms of what I do for keeping lists, our situation is a bit different because we have an office with a door that can be hooked from the outside, so that we can keep the kiddos out when we want to. We have actually put hooks on lots of our doors for the same reason - our bedroom door, the door to the baby's room - we used them more when C was younger and we really needed to keep him out of certain places for safety reasons, but it's handy to be able to "lock" a door when necessary. The hooks/latches are very cheap and easy to install on any type of door.

Right Said Red said...

I think MaryAlice's suggestion of a closed notebook is excellent. I keep to-do lists for big events in a closed notebook like she suggested. I then save that notebook from year to year or event to event and so that I can remember what sort of tasks need to get accomplished. As for regular day-to-day to-do lists, I use magnet lists that stick to the side of my fridge. I put it up high where the kids cannot reach it (I actually think Kat gave me these list for a bridal shower gift 7 years ago!!!! I've been hooked ever since, and they work great with kids. I also give automatic time-outs (without warning) for picking up a writing instrument and writing on my paper. The kids can draw whenever they ask, but drawing without asking results in an immediate time-out.

Anonymous said...

I have a combination grocery list, menu, to-do list that is in a notebook in my purse (it has a pen attached so it is always handy). I keep the notebook in my purse and my purse is always hung by the door. Our house is on the smaller side so it is always within reach.
on the other hand... I noticed the same developmental needs in my two year old when he started to pick up pieces of paper and declare that they were grocery lists. If you asked him what was on his list, he would recite all the items we bought the last time we were at the store!
I gave him his own pad of paper and his own little bag to store his treasures. Usually it's his wallet (filled with junk cards), his cars, his barn animal figures and his pad of paper!

Kristen said...

Who says an old mom can't learn new tricks? I've had a dry erase board for years, and believe me, you'll need it when they are all school-age...even my husband uses it to see what in the world we are doing today. I even post the two-week "snapshot" on one side so that no one is blind-sided by doctor, dentist, etc. (Here's one to look forward to...the teens know when we expect them to babysit...)

but I never thought to give the toddlers their own little dry erase board or pads for writing...

Gonna try that today...

Amy Elisa said...

At least with my grocery list (which is ever growing), I have it stuck to my fridge with a magnet on the top part so curious little fingers can't get to it. I find it is most convenient to have it there so that I can immediately put items that are low or out on it.

I also keep a small notebook with a rubber band around it in my purse for other to-do lists.