Top Ten Things I Don’t Do

Ten Things I Don't Do

Have you ever read a book or a blog and become convinced that whoever wrote it must be living inside your head? Like they are stealing your thoughts and writing your words (although usually much better, more concise and with less spelling and grammatical errors)? Last year, I heard Shauna Niequist speak for the first time and she read excerpts from her book Cold Tangerines . I became immediately convinced that we should become best friends. I mean, she wrote the things I thought. Even the things I didn’t know I was thinking.

So I began stalking her. Well not in a restraining order kind of way. But she lived in my town and went to my church…..wait that sounds restraining order-esque. What I mean is because of her close proximity, she spoke often at events in my area. It wasn’t like I sat outside her house and watched her while she ate dinner with her family. But I did end up seeing her like 4 times in 6 months. And tried, in a super cool way, to strike up conversations with her, thereby proving we should be best friends.

Alas, it didn’t work. And then she off and moved to Chicago  so my stalking chances dwindled. So when I discovered she had a new book and she was speaking again in the area I was so excited. I had actually heard her read a few essays from Bittersweet before the book was published and one definitely stood out to me. It was called, “Things I Don’t Do.” I was so excited when I heard her speak last week and this was one of the essays she chose to read. Not only that, but she had us write are very own, “Things I Don’t Do” lists.

I should back up. The premise here is that she had a wise friend tell her this, “It’s not hard to decide what you want your life to be about. What’s hard is figuring out the things you are willing to give up in order to do the things you really care about. “ The whole essay is awesome. You should buy the book. This isn’t a book review, no one is paying me to talk about the book. I get like pennies if you click on the link and buy it, but frankly, go to a local, tiny bookstore and try and buy it there. Support local businesses AND read a great book. The reason I am telling you this is that we all need the message of this essay.

We can’t be it all, do it all, perfect it all. And even if we know that, that doesn’t stop us from trying to appear to those around us like we can. The “Things I Don’t Do” list is a line in the sand. It is my way of saying, hey, it is great that you construct elaborate crafts that illustrate the message of salvation using only pipe cleaners and paper clips, but I don’t “do” crafts. But you know what, I bake a mean loaf of bread. And you don’t have to. You can buy your bread at the store and you are not less of a mom  than I am. Doesn’t that feel good to say? Doesn’t it feel good to hear?

So here are my Top Ten Things I Don’t Do:

  1. Garden: Yes, I am stealing her first thing she doesn’t do. But it would not take you too long to walk around the perimeter of my house to see that I don’t do this. I inherited a house where clearly someone used to do this, but that poor woman’s efforts were in vain. I don’t know what I am doing, I don’t have time or the inclination to learn. Hostas are my friend.
  2. Shop Thrift Stores: I am always amazed when I hear from people that they get great clothes at Goodwill. I can shop a garage sale like nobody’s business. I can score a bargain at 75% off with a 20% coupon at a department store. I can even get drug stores to pay me to shop there. But I can’t find a single thing that is worth buying at Goodwill and don’t really want to spend my time looking through piles of nasty crap to find a treasure.
  3. Scrapbook: My oldest has a baby book. But for the record it has about 3 pages filled out and not a single picture. The second to have nothing. I rarely even take pictures. Will I regret this someday? Possibly. But if I can’t be bothered to take a picture do you really think I am going to be bothered to lay them out in a book with cute little cut out sayings and a coordinating background?
  4. Dust: I try and keep a tidy house. But once you have picked up the same room 637 times in a three hour time span only to have the room next to it destroyed while you are cleaning, dusting somehow falls to the bottom of the priority list. I try and make sure you can’t write your name in the dust layers, but it definitely is not happening on any sort of regular basis.
  5. Decorate: I think if you came to my house you would find it all matches and looks pretty decent, but beyond the large pieces of furniture, I can’t seem to figure out what else to do. Artwork, knickknacks, curtains and such are not my forte. So those things are a bit sparse and haphazard and random. I love a good decorating magazine or blog, but I can’t seem to translate that into my house. Someday I hope to have gobs of money so I can hire someone to do that stuff for me.
  6. Anything before the hour of 7 am: I really, really, really would like to be an early morning person. Someone that gets up before everyone else and has her exercise and morning devotional done by 6:30. Then spends the next hour baking breakfast and packing lunches. The truth is I roll out of bed at 7, throw on an old sweatshirt, stick some toast in the toaster, slap together a sandwich and a few side dishes and rush out the door at 7:30 to get Lily to school. It ain’t pretty, but it is how we roll.
  7. Crafts: I have a sewing machine that has sat in its box for 3 years. I have pages I have torn from magazines about quick, easy things you can make for your home. I have an inner Martha that is dying to come out, I just know it. But for right now, she is stuffed inside because I just don’t have the energy. And crafting with my children makes me want to gouge my eyes out. Although I do enjoy a good, hardcore coloring session. With a coloring book though, actually creating a picture takes too much mental energy.
  8. Shaving in the winter: I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, but I’m not saying it happens near enough. My apologies to my hubby, but uninterrupted shower time is a rare commodity and I am lucky if I remember to wash the conditioner out of my hair, let alone do any sort of personal grooming.
  9. Baking with my kids: I actually really enjoy baking. But I don’t like having the food around cause I just eat it (which is really bad, see #10). And I have no patience to deal with the spilling and the inaccurate measuring and the fingers in the batter thing. Occasionally “fun mom” will come out and we will bake something together, but really I get so agitated during the whole process I end up yelling and how is that quality time. So baking is mostly left to Grandma.
  10. Exercise with any sort of regularity: Ok so this isn’t so much a declaration of “Things I Don’t Do” as just a sad state of affairs. With Silas taking 2 naps combined with the whole non-functioning before 7 am thing, I just haven’t found a good spot to work this in. I also detest exercise of any form so that is working against me. I used to semi-enjoy classes at the gym, but then we dropped our membership and I just can’t find anything I enjoy doing. So this one really needs to not be on my list, I know, I know, I know……

So what would be on your list of “Things You Don’t Do?” Write one. It is quite liberating. Of course then you also fill in what is on your “must do” list. Nurturing my marriage. Dancing, singing and reading with my children. Cooking really good and healthy food for my family. Connecting with friends who build me up and make me laugh. Attending and investing in my church community. And, although I never would have guessed it 10 years ago, writing. It feeds my soul and allows me to express myself and even provides a tiny bit of income to waste on visits to Target. For now, that is where I am focusing my time and my energy and I am not feeling the least bit bad or guilty about it.



  1. ummmm, I LOVE your list. I was totally cracking up b/c honestly, nine out of ten…totally me. So I’m wondering if I can just steal your list since “getting overwhelmed by the gobs of things I need to do, should do, want to do so I just give in and watch tv” unfortunately describes me. ;-)

    ps…I’m def gonna look into that book. Thanks for sharing!
    Erika recently posted…1-000 Gifts- Gratitude and Gods Will for our LivesMy Profile

  2. Christy says:

    I stumbled onto your blog by accident and just love it! I love lists, but never really thought of a list of things I Don’t do. That is great, not one thing needs to be checked off, ever! I recently found the blog world and am loving it. I hope I can figure out how to subscribe to this in my blogger acct.

    I am going to read some more, as soon as I check one more thing off my list!

  3. I’m about 50/50 with the things you’ve listed… I love having flowers around my house, but I DON’T do thrift stores or even garage sales usually. I love scrapbooking though – just spent my entire weekend (and my entire monthly “me” money on supplies!) working on my stuff!
    Dust, meh. Crafts, depends.
    Decorating, sort of!
    Before 7am, NEVER!
    Shaving, yes please (I write in my head while I’m in the shower!)
    Baking NO.
    Exercise, mostly only yoga.

    I really do need to not feel bad about not baking my own bread too… especially when I can buy it for almost as cheaply as I can make it (we have an outlet store here), we eat a TON of bread, and my time is worth some sanity too! It’s just that my best friend makes all her own bread… yeah, the comparisons kill me!

  4. I love Shauna too, though have had no *opportunity* to stalk her. She is coming back to my moms group in January, so I’m looking forward to hearing her speak and picking up her new book. Sounds like a good one and one I could benefit from! Thanks for the preview!
    punkinmama recently posted…halloween 2010My Profile

  5. I just ordered both of her books last night! Someone else was telling me how great they were and I can’t wait to get my hands on them.
    Bridget recently posted…12 Crafts of ChristmasFleece Tie-Knot BlanketMy Profile

  6. Tabetha Perez says:

    I can relate 100% to not one, not two, but all ten

  7. Wow- except for thirft store shopping and decorating I would have the exact same list as you. Thank you for admitting to not shaving much in the winter- totally thought I was the only one. I just don’t see the point if no one sees it (thankfully I don’t have thick dark leg hair).

    Can’t wait to check out your book recommendations – they sound great.

  8. Oh Jill-I’m SO with you on the exercise thing! I. Despies. It. I mean, I think I’d rather have a root canal.

    ok, that may be a tad of an exaggeration, but i seriuously loathe it!
    Staci Brown recently posted…Top Ten Christmas CardsMy Profile

  9. Love your post. I agree with almost all of it, except the shaving and exercise. I do like to play sports, but you won’t see me running outside in the rain at 6 in the morning. Those people are nuts.

    Here are my Top Ten Things I Don’t Do

    I don’t like to cook: Oh sure, I cook. The family has to eat. But do I like it? No. Maybe it’s the clean up. I like to eat, though.

    I don’t Bake: I’m sure that anything I bake would go right down my throat. Can’t make chocolate chip cookies. They would never make it to the plate

    I don’t like to do Halloween stuff: Seems like it’s the national holiday, but I hate the dressing up, the parades and trick or treating to beg for candy. I would rather get a bag of Snickers and split it up between the kids.

    I don’t like to go shopping: It doesn’t matter of it’s for a new wardrobe, or for Christmas. I can’t stand shopping. I would rather shop online.

    I don’t like to do crafts: Put this in the horrible mother category. While other mothers were crafting with their kids, I was covering the table with newspaper, setting them up with paint and a piece of paper and telling them “have at it”. I never made a birdhouse, and I don’t care.

    I don’t write Christmas Cards before December 20th: One word: procrastination. Every year, I try to do it earlier, but every year I seem to be scrambling to get them out by Christmas Eve.

    I don’t Christmas shop before December: See #6

    I don’t wear shorts until July: It has to be really hot to bring those bad boys out. Really hot.

    I don’t paint my nails: Maybe I’ve done it on occasion (like my wedding), but normally I don’t.

    I don’t garden: It’s a nice idea. I would love to have a big backyard with a flower garden. But, I don’t see it happening. Some people get joy from having their hands in the dirt. I do not have the patience.
    Anne Marie Busch recently posted…NEW BEGINNINGS CHAPTER SEVEN – REVELATIONSMy Profile

  10. I love this essay, too – it’s great advice. Love to read your ‘don’t do’ list. I’m always revising and re-evaluating my list.

  11. Ditto on # 7, like ten billion times ditto. I have an actual room in my current home called the craft room. I have table space and a sewing machine. I have NO energy after working all day and cooking dinner when I get home to actually take something out and work on it. I have an apron that has been in process for about 8 years now. How sad is that? I guess I’m going to be looking for this book, if nothing else, than to cheer me up.

  12. Well, I am completely with you on #1, I do not even know what hastas are! AND I stalked her as well, I even moved to the Chicago area, but alas, that is where my stalking stopped:) I haven’t read Bittersweet, but heard her speak on Midday Connection about it.

  13. #9 is one I’ve seen on another “Top Ten” today but I can’t remember which! Too funny — and I agree. That’s why I go nuts when I have a Truly Legitimate Reason To Bake. Like birthdays, and the holidays. I do a lot of your “don’t do” stuff, but I still love this list and this way of creating a non-mission-statement. Freeing! (Oh, as for scrapbooking, I take photos and date them on the PC, and then separately I write a journal for the kids, but I don’t think I’ll actually combine the two until the kids are in college?!)

  14. LOVE this post, Jill. You inspired me to start a list of my own: http://strongrhetoric.blogspot.com/2010/11/thing-i-dont-do.html
    Strong Rhetoric recently posted…Thing I Dont DoMy Profile

  15. Your whole list, minus #10. I actually do like some exercise and manage to get it in a few times a week. Otherwise, just cut and paste. ;)
    nicole recently posted…One Right ChoiceMy Profile

  16. I LOVE thrift stores! i don’t know what I would do without them! We have a bunch of good ones here in the Twin Cities. Not a fan of goodwill though.
    Debbi Does Dinner Healthy recently posted…Southwest Sloppy Joes with Honey Lime ColeslawMy Profile

  17. You are often my Shauna Niequist. Your words tend to be my thoughts often. On paper, we should be best mates, but I hardly ever see you anymore. Our husbands are practically soul mates… I think we need to remedy this at some point. :)
    Holly recently posted…Strength and HappinessMy Profile

  18. P.S. Hostas are my friend too. I kill everything I grow. :)
    Holly recently posted…Strength and HappinessMy Profile

  19. Shauna spoke at my MOPS group two years ago. I was convinced that every word she was reading was directed right to my soul and immediately bought two copies of her book to give to my best friends. Turns out, I was about 3 weeks pregnant at the time and quite possibly hyper-sensitive, but still, she is an amazing author.
    kaetheward recently posted…Halloweeen 2010My Profile

  20. Gardening is so overrated.

    Okay, so maybe it’s not. But I don’t do it. :)
    Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect recently posted…10 Surprises about Becoming a SAHMMy Profile

  21. oh amanda says:

    Jill. You are awesome.

    (And I get up at 6. Not 5:30.)
    oh amanda recently posted…True Southerners- Top Ten TuesdayMy Profile

  22. #4 reminds me of a saying my Mother in Law had hanging in her house. I don’t remember exactly how it went, but something to the effect of “You are welcome to write your name in the dust, but please don’t date it”
    Sarah’s Deals recently posted…Housewares Deals 11-9-10 – Hoffritz 4 Piece Nesting Stockpot Set 3500 100 valueMy Profile

  23. I was laughing at loud at the subtle references to Oh Amanda throughout this post. Glad you are a good enough woman to realize that we are all great mothers for different reasons. And glad to know we really are BFF’s as I agree with you 100% on 9 of the 10 of these (I garden a little bit). :)
    Tricia (Once A Month Mom) recently posted…Woe is me!My Profile

  24. LOVE it! Thanks for your honesty that we can all relate to! Love you!
    QuatroMama recently posted…Fun 4 A Buck – Shaving Cream Finger PaintMy Profile

  25. I’ve decided we’re going to be BFF’s forever, or, possibly, I might become your stalker. This list is genius and I just might steal it. Be fore warned.
    Krista recently posted…Total and Complete RandomnessMy Profile

  26. AWESOME! I love it! And because it is 1:30 am here because I just got home from the hospital where my sister in law just had twins, I am not going to use the little brain energy I have to make a list tonight (or this morning however you wanna look at it) BUT I promise to do this tomorrow and get back to you! And then I am going to put it on my refrigerator and bathroom mirror! I LOVE IT!
    Erin recently posted…Karate KidMy Profile

  27. Love it! You have abolished my guilt on 9/10 things! (I find AWESOME finds at my very clean Goodwill store but don’t ask me to paw thru someone’s garage sale while they are sitting there :) I CAN be a good mom without baking, dusting or scrapbooking. I make a mean pork loin roast, provide hours of dust bunny entertainment for my children and can run a photo slideshow from my laptop.
    Thanks for the smile!

  28. Okay I did it, like I said I would! I only got 7 things so far but I am going to get 3 more before the day is over!
    Oh wait, I just added another! Okay, here it is and by the time I get to the end I might have more to add. YAY!

    1. Garden:Yes I stole your first one, but it is so true. My mom is a gardener. I remember helping her when I was a little girl and most of the time I loved it. Now as an adult, I would love to have beautiful flowers for all who drive by to say “oooh and aaaah” over but really, I have three small children and if I can’t hardly get the dishes done then there is no way that flowers are going to be at the top of my list. :)

    2. Shopping at the mall: Okay, so you don’t shop at the thrift stores, but I do! I used to hate this when I was a child/teenager because my mom would drag me to goodwill all the time and I almost despised her because of it, not quite though. Nowadays, I don’t shop at goodwill on a regular basis, I generally go to Walmart and garage sales, but I do go to goodwill and find some great deals!

    3. Dust: Another one of your’s. My mom was a stickler for dusting when I was growing up and I hated that! But her house was always amazingly looking great! I agree that after you have picked up the same room and the same toys hundreds of times, the dusting is not that big of an importance!

    4. Anything before 8 am: I love my sleep! I only get up because I have kids. If I didn’t have children I would sleep and sleep and sleep and stuff my face in between! lol I would love to get up before the crack of dawn and exercise, have a quiet time, and get half the house chores done but again, I LOVE to sleep! My mother was great for this one, she was always up at like 5 am and by the time I rolled out of bed she was on her 3rd pot of coffee (okay not sure it was her 3rd pot of coffee but whatever!)

    5. Exercise on a regular basis: Again another one of your’s. I would to have a regular routine of exercising, my mother again was great with this one, but wow! My life changes so much from one minute to the next. Well, maybe having a schedule would help with that, but yeah know, I am just not there yet!

    6. Cooking/Baking with my kids: That is a great Grandma activity! I do not have the patience to have my babies in my small kitchen with me always under my feet. I do my best to let them help with mac n cheese but I usually have the mentality that “I can do this quicker without you under my feet, so please stay out of my way”.

    7. Crafts with my kids: Again another great Grandma activity. I love crafts! I love to scrapbook, umm, when I find time! But I hate cleaning up my own mess from the crafts, why do I want to clean up 10 times more of a mess. Now, don’t get me wrong, we color and draw and stuff like that. I am talking about crafts that have glitter and glue and messy things like that! however we are going to make cute little Gobble Gobble Plate Cards for Thanksgiving dinner and there are 7 materials on this list. Check it out here http://www.scholastic.com/parents and in the search bar put Gobble Gobble Place Card.

    8. Make a monthly menu: My husband wants to do this and really so do I but it takes so much brain power to do it. I am sure that it would help us out tremendously but I just haven’t found a good system that works.

    Okay, so today I am going to think of two more things to make a list of 10. Also, if you don’t mind I would like to feature this blog post on my blog because I think it’s great. Thanks!

    Erin recently posted…Karate KidMy Profile

  29. P.S. Okay, so I know that it sounds like I don’t want to be like my mom, but really I do want to be just like her. When I finally grow up, I wanna be my mom. :) I love my mommy.
    Erin recently posted…Karate KidMy Profile

  30. I love your list! Here are my 7 Things I Don’t Do and I also don’t scrapbook, for just exactly the reasons you mentioned.
    ‘Becca recently posted…When life gives you wet socks- make a matching game!My Profile

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