My 'to-do' list is stalking me – and it's scarier than Lord Voldemort
21:12 GMT, 25 April 2012
The to-do list has begun to haunt me, fiendishly finding new and ever more ridiculous domestic and parenting challenges for me to tick off.
It’s taking on a life of its own and I feel as if I’m being shadowed by it in the same way Harry Potter is shadowed by Lord Voldemort.
The list is stalking me, you know, always in the back of my mind as I speed through the working day towards family time. Domestic danger and disaster loom if I don’t get everything done in order and on deadline.
Shadowed: Lorraine says the to-do list has begun to haunt her (stock picture)
I tell myself that life will be less stressful if I can beat the list, because its very existence makes me feel a failure and fills me with dread — like a hideous dental appointment or the fear of coming across yet more lurid kiss-and- tell revelations involving Simon Cowell. And worse still, it wakes me up in the night.
‘Good God, woman, you’re not sleeping are you’ it growls impatiently.
‘Not when Mr Candy has no clean socks, one small child needs a haircut so badly he looks like a Seventies footballer and you forgot to write the girls’ names in their new school tights. Is sleep really a luxury you can afford’
Each morning more and more gets added on to The List, the reservoir of tasks topped up more quickly than me and Mr Candy can accomplish the challenges on the bottom of The List.‘I need a recorder and a swimming costume tomorrow,’ Gracie-in-the-middle, aged eight, tells me late one evening.
Sixty-nine per cent of people in the UK say they keep at least one to-do list, reporting that it reduces stress levels and increases productivity
God knows what Olympic sport she’s training for (though, along with every parent I know, I’m of the opinion the recorder is best played underwater where no one can hear it). Then the eldest informs me she needs some ‘indoor shoes’ for a school trip. ‘And a ring binder that fits in my rucksack,’ she adds. The five-year-old requests some raisins so he can make ‘jackflaps’.
‘I’ll put it all on the list,’ I reply, mentally calculating the six-minute time slot I have the next day at work in which to buy the aforementioned ring binder and ‘indoor shoes’ whatever they are (when I suggested she take her slippers, she rolled her eyes in that way only a nine-year-old going on 15 can).
Baby Mabel needs ‘indoor shoes’, too, now she’s taken her first tentative steps at 11 months. And, more worryingly, someone needs to pluck up the courage to make a vet’s appointment for the dog to find out if he really is going blind or if he keeps bumping into the back door for comic effect.
Maybe if I didn’t work there wouldn’t be a list Is it possible that if I was a job-free mother I’d actually be able to strangle the list and bury it at sea
Or if I worked part-time would the to-do list be pro-rated down to half its size, a more manageable task all round Or perhaps I should start a scheme where young, would-be working mums volunteer for ‘to-do list’ work experience in our household, a unique chance to see their future at first hand
It would surely prove the world’s most effective contraceptive.
Later, in my search for solutions, the seed of a surprising idea presented itself. What if it wasn’t me who gave up work What if Mr Candy gave up work He’s a more patient and less volatile human being. His brain is like a neatly stacked dishwasher, mine is like a bag of tangled up balls of wool.
If you were to place bets on who could beat The List in a fight to the death, I think your money would be on him. He doesn’t resent The List, it doesn’t make him feel a failure. It’s a challenge, and men seem to relish this kind of thing more than women, whose mindset is usually programmed to see it as a chore or burden. I haven’t mentioned it to him yet, but I will. I’ve written it down. On The List.
Lorraine Candy is editor-in-chief of Elle magazine.