The Power of a List


It may surprise you to know that I dislike making lists. I am not a check things off the list kind of girl. I find when I make a list, it inhibits my ability to be creative and spontaneous. Once that list is made, I feel like I have to follow it. And there's nothing more frustrating to me than to make a list and to have to go to bed with things still on it.

I pretty much live my life list-free. It drives the Type A personalities in my life nuts. I know there are those of you reading this who cringed as soon as you read the first line of this post. I know lots of people who live by the list. They make lists for everything. And it seems to work for them. It just doesn't work for me. Lists make me cranky.

But this summer, I've learned the value of making a list. I don't make them for myself, but I've discovered that one of my children functions much better with a list. She needs the detail found in a list, and it helps her to know exactly how much she has to do before she's free to do her own thing.

I started making lists for my girls at the beginning of summer break. Every morning they get up and find a list of chores that have to be done at their place at the table. When that list is done, they receive their pay for the day, then the rest of their day is chore-free. It's been magic. I no longer have to plead, yell and push to get chores done. All I have to do is ask the girls if they've completed everything on their list. If not, then I send them back to check the list.

Since we started the lists, the dog gets fed, instruments get practiced, reading time gets accomplished and chores get done with minimal interference from me. The list has increased our efficiency and cut down on the whining. If I have extra things I need the girls to do, then I just add them to the list.

It took me a long time to come up with the list system because that's not how I'm wired. Lists don't work for me, so I assumed they wouldn't work for my kids. I had tunnel vision where list-making was concerned.

Sometimes we get tunnel vision where our kids are concerned. We get so caught up in our own personality quirks and our own preferences that we fail to see the best way to teach and guide our kids. Just because something doesn't work for us doesn't mean it won't work for our kids.

God made each one of us different. He gave each of us different gifts. Romans 12:4 says "We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us." God made us different from our kids because He has different roles for each of us to play in His plan. There are days those differences make me want to beat my head against the wall. But there are other days when those differences teach me something.

I want my kids to grow up to be responsible, Christ-following adults. For that to happen, I have to remember that my kids won't always think like me. They won't always do things the way I would do them. They won't always respond to the same things that work for me. I have to find the things that work for them.

That might mean I have to change the way I'm dealing with my kids. It might mean I have to step outside my own comfort zone and try a different approach. It might mean I have to treat my kids like the individuals they are and not like miniature copies of myself.

It might even mean that I have to make a list.