The Simple To-Do Trick that Will Bring Joy (and I learned it from an 8-year-old)


Océane was given a small chalkboard as a gift, and she proudly announced that she would be turning it into a to-do list to keep her on track in the morning.  A small part of me cringed — was my propensity for planning everything trickling down too fast into the life of a sweet third-grader?  On the other hand, I know my kids do well with clear expectations and checklists — sticker charts were big for us in the toddler years, so I was curious to see how this played out.


What happened next surprised me.  Océane showed me her list and on it, in the top few non-negotiable tasks that she considers to be the critical path of a successful morning, she included “snuggles.”  It’s true — every morning, she comes upstairs and crawls into bed with Philippe and me and snuggles in, dozing off together for the last few minutes before the day begins.


Here is the genius of her to-do list:

1. Océane knows herself and acknowledges her habits in her to-do list.  She didn’t create an unrealistic to-do list in the interest of being super efficient on paper.  She made a list that she could stick to, long term.  And that routine requires fifteen minutes of snuggles.  So there it is.  Failing to plan is planning to fail, right?

2. More importantly: Océane prioritized family, connection and relationship, and planned for it.  It is right there on her chalkboard: I need to connect with Mom and Dad, or my day isn’t right.  Océane plans for human connection! Most of us would agree that connecting and relationships are what bring us true joy, but are most of us actually scheduling that into our routines?  I’m writing this from my desk and a quick review of today’s to-do reveals all work-related task (plus a couple of teacher-parent conferences).  Where are snuggles on my to-do list? What can I add to my to-do list today that will advance what really matters to me — connecting with those I love?

Today, I’m adding: Call Karen (my dear friend) and nail down the dates for that girls’ weekend we have been talking about for the past year.

What one thing can you add to your to-do list TODAY that will nurture one of your treasured relationships?