The List Lover

Hi. I’m Polly and I’m a listoholic.


Ok that may be a tad extreme but it’s fair to say I am a lover of lists:

  • To do list
  • Shopping list
  • Bucket List
  • What to take on holiday list
  • Daughter’s birthday party attendee list

Would you look at that, I’ve even written a list of my lists. But there is a limit to my list obsession and that is the lists of things that ‘they’ say we should do before we die, before we’re 20, 30, 40, before we have children, before our children are 3,4,5,6, before we retire, the things to do in retirement…and they range from the bluest seas to swim in, the top 10 ways to use your pee to improve your life, the books we should read, the movies we should watch, the foods we should or shouldn’t eat today, this week, this year…

These lists stir a strange rebellion in me because:

a) I enjoy creating my own lists

b) I can’t help but wonder if there is actually anyone in the world that feels compelled to live his or her lives according to these lists – that worries me! But most importantly:

c) If an item is on a list written by somebody else for us to achieve, does it becomes less of an enjoyment, a natural act, a spontaneous event – does it suddenly morph into more of a chore? Another pressure, a reminder that we’re not living our lives to the max, another reason to feel guilty for what we’re not achieving: 20 things to do with your child on the school run, 50 literacy activities to do with your child in reception year, 101 ways to cherish your spouse….

The National Trust has produced a list of 50 things your child should do before they’re 11 3/4. ‘The coolest outdoor things to do’ has left me feeling a little exasperated. I was gob-smacked to find: ‘climb a tree’, ‘play in the snow’, ‘pick blackberries’, ‘make a daisy chain’… Really?? Do children REALLY need a tick-box to prompt them to be young and free and fun… to be children?? Is this a list that stirs feelings of guilt in fellow parents? Does it leave them incensed? Am I alone in this list torment?! Torn between agitation and guilt? Am I overthinking THE LIST?

This week another list popped up on my Facebook newsfeed prompting another exasperated sigh: ‘100 ways to be kind to your child’. A trusted friend had shared it so, intrigued, I opened up the link and began to read. Well, this particular list had quite an effect on me. It was like watching a rerun of some of the most magical and joyful day to day and easily forgotten snippets of times spent with my children so far – singing silly songs with them in the car, asking about their favourite part of the day, folding laundry together, exploring together, sharing favourite colours, explaining that sometimes I struggle too but that’s ok, teaching them that three hand squeezes (or three winks / blinks) means I love them (in case I can’t ever tell them), playing I spy and board games, reading outside…. It made me view the National Trust list in a new light – how lucky I am to have spent my childhood rolling down hills, building dens, playing in the snow, collecting conkers, and how much fun it is – and is going to be – to continue sharing those experiences with my own children. It’s also prompted me to start a new list which is definitely going to satisfy my list addiction. It’s called:

Amazing things we’ve already done.

Or perhaps I should just get over it and stick to the good old-fashioned photo album! What do you think? I’d love to hear about your list encounters….

Thank you again for reading. If you’ve enjoyed this and haven’t already ordered my children’s book, you can do so via:

Polly x


2 thoughts on “The List Lover

  1. Polly, have you been reading my mind (or my list?!) I am so on the same page as you on this one. (Mine also has To Do underlined at the top) I hate those lists that you see put together by other people in magazines etc. They just make me feel depressed because a) they turn what should be spontaneous things we would have done anyway into chores or b) they make me feel inadequate, because we’re not doing all the things listed AT THE SAME TIME. The National Trust one manages to do both at once. Think I’ll stick to my own lists from now on – I love adding things on, just so I can tick them off – a bit like your amazing things we’ve already done idea. Nice one. x

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