Include some optionals on your to-do list

I used to both love and dread having company over. I enjoyed hosting people, sharing my cooking and home, but it also was a major source of stress for me. By the time the party started, sometimes I would either be frazzled because I had frantically struggled to complete my to-do list of preparations or disappointed because I hadn’t crossed everything off of the list.

The problem was my to-do list. At times, it was overly ambitious for the amount of time I had available to prepare. Other times, things came up that put me behind. Mostly, the problem was that I somehow got the impression that everything on my to-do list was mandatory, and I couldn’t feel good about having people over unless I completed it.

I got some insight when I attended a party at a friend’s house, and she quietly confided that she was hoping no one noticed that she hadn’t had time to do certain things to get ready. I assured her that it didn’t matter, of course, and that we were just happy to get together with her.

Sometimes you need to say a truth to someone else in order to realize it for yourself.

I still make to-do lists, but I now prioritize their contents. I make an honest assessment of what truly needs to be done before a gathering, which is surprisingly little when it all comes down to it, and then I include some stronger wishes and some more nice-to-do-if-I-have-time items. With a prioritized list, I can still keep track of what I might do but am able to enjoy gatherings and my company because I haven’t failed to meet some preconceived criteria for success. The point is to connect. Most of the rest is just vacuuming behind the couch.

– by Patricia S.

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