Taping our lists together
My family has finally found a kindred spirit.
I grew up with a responsible, happy, list-making mother — one who could make a professional organizer look disheveled. In a pre-smartphone world, Mom had a PalmPilot before even PalmPilots were a thing. She used it to store our family secrets (and, you know, medical history). You could probably ask Mom what she was doing on Oct. 12, 1999, and she’d have a calendar entry still cached.
My sister and I followed in her responsible footsteps. I start- ed keeping a paper planner in high school and still have my calendars — like journals, really — that I kept up until finishing college. The end of formal schooling meant I was free from the pressing need to track my time, deadlines and productivity. When I could finally put down the planner, I felt free.
But that was short-lived — and shortly replaced by Google Cal- endar, which I now keep meticulously updated. When I got my first smartphone, the world of digital calendar-keeping opened up to me. I’ve never looked back.
Now, of course, I’m also running Johnson, Inc.: keeping track of my husband’s appoint- ments, my biweekly pregnancy check-ups, Oliver’s follow-ups and our family commitments — not to mention all the work-relat- ed tasks coordinated alongside the personal stuff.
It seems stressful, but don’t let me mislead you: I live for logis- tics. It’s an obsession, really. If my sister wants to hitch a ride with us to a friend’s get-together, I love arranging the pick-up de- tails so she can then ride home with her husband, who is joining us later, and not need a second car. Having two functions in one day is no problem; which starts earlier, and how long will we rea- sonably spend at each? What’s the easiest, quickest way to get from point A to point B?
With toddlers, you have to start early.
The days of grabbing my purse, stuffing my feet into flipflops and rolling out the door ended, oh . . . two years ago. Getting Oliver fed, changed and dressed is a project unto itself — and if we’re heading somewhere on a longer drive with plans to be out for the day, I have to prep the diaper bag with necessary supplies to get us through a busy afternoon. And putting on a kid’s socks and shoes? Well.
Starting a half hour before we actually want to be on the road is a good barometer — and even then, I often find myself scrambling last-minute to get everyone ready to walk out the door. With another baby on the way, I’m sure the chaos will only magnify.
I’m only partially ready for that.
In a world comprised of both planners and non-planners, I’d long ago assumed that my family fell squarely into the obsessive planning category — a tedious group who like everything to be neat, orderly and color-coded. Friends over the years certainly didn’t seem worried about planning things far in advance. I receive plenty of last-minute invites, and their turn-out is always fine.
But you know what? Planners get things done. Last Friday was a perfect example of that. With my baby shower complete, we’ve turned to coordinating my sister’s February soiree. Her little girl is due in May, just six weeks after mine, and we’ve been talking about these parties since last fall.
Katie’s good friend, Michelle, was brought into the fold. When I was panicking at the thought of welcoming 50 women into my toy-strewn house at eight months pregnant, Michelle kindly offered her home as our venue. We went for a visit last month and started to talk logistics, but that was tricky with kiddos running around. We needed a girls’ night to focus.
Friday was that night. In the side corner of a cafe, we talked for three hours — three hours — about the details of Katie’s shower. Food, favors, decor, games, beverages . . . all the way down to where we’d stash folks’ winter coats during the party.
I worried, as I always do, that we would scare Michelle with our lists and highlighters, PostIts and spreadsheets. My mom came prepared with stapled print-outs and questions. I had my laptop, and my sister had her trusty clipboard — com- plete with the checklists she brings ever ywhere.
But Michelle? Michelle was into this.
The logistics didn’t scare her. As the hours ticked by, her eyes didn’t glaze over; she offered excellent ideas, volunteered to tackle many tasks and, most importantly, didn’t run scream- ing into the parking lot. At one point, Michelle even drew a diagram, sketching her living room furniture along with ideas for table and chair placement. When she ran out of space on one page, she grabbed another to create a panorama.
“You probably wish you had tape!” Mom joked.
Michelle looked up. “I do,” she said, nodding seriously. And I looked in my purse, convinced I had some. (I didn’t. Though I did have tweezers, rubber bands and five kinds of lip balm.)
Rather than frighten her off with our preparedness, Michelle was a kindred spirit — a list-maker ready to get stuff done.
I typically view “group efforts” like dreaded school projects, where one person realistically does all the work and the rest show up on presentation day. But with four go-getters? “Presentation day” will be awesome.
And I totally carry tape now. You know: just in case.