Accumulating Choices, The List Illusion, and Making Home Happy

Edna Eicke, McCall's Jan 1962
Life can be exciting!  Choices abound!  We are taught that having as many choices as possible is the best thing for us, from cars to careers.  So many things are attractive and we are teased into sampling as many as possible.  My lists engulfed me.  I’d go through my day crossing things off, and adding things I already did, just to cross them off.

My lists gave me the illusion that my life was full and overflowing.  But overflowing with what?  Grace, beauty, laughter, sunshine, children, healthy food, strength, energy, peace….

Or stress, anger, tears, feeling frantic, tripping over things, stomach aches, overdue bills, deadlines, feelings of failure, unfinished tasks, time slipping away….“What really matters?” was a question I never wrote down on my To Do list.

I also accumulated choices:  Notebooks, boxes, and magazine racks crammed full of information from years’ worth of articles.  I was unwilling to let any information slip through my fingers and saved it for that crucial moment when I would need it. 

My choices were piling up.  Accumulating choices allowed me to avoid making the most crucial choices on how I lived my life daily, how my living space looked, and how I felt.

I was accomplishing so much, yet I was constantly being distracted from what I perceived as my ultimate goal – a happy, serene life, being thankful for the small things, getting married, having children, living in a cozy home.

I rushed through my days.  7:00 am – buzzz; 7:01 hit snooze; 7:10 – buzzz.  Rush through my morning.  Glance at the way the morning light came in through the windows, wishing I had time to spend reading in it…exercising in it…meditating in it.  I wanted to enjoy my home in sunlight.  I’d leave the house and fight traffic.  Rush through my day.  Zap my food in the microwave.  Work harder, work faster.  Rush home, zap dinner, let the dishes pile up, throw clothes on a chair, ignore things piling up around me, zone in front of the t.v.  Unsatisfied and angry, I’d go to bed.

Everyone around me scurried.  We also couldn’t wait for 5:00 p.m.  I couldn’t wait to get home, and I’d stew at red lights.  Yet, when I arrived home, I was often disappointed.  I wanted to have a nice, healthy dinner, live in a clean house, have everyone around me be in a good mood, be appreciated for going to work. 

I couldn’t wait for the weekend!  Boy would I have fun then!  I was going to get up early, go walking or hiking, read, enjoy the day.  Instead, I’d wake up late, rush, run errands, wait in line, do the dishes, try and sort piles.  I wanted to enjoy my home.  I wanted to read and rest in the backyard.  Exhausted, I’d turn on the t.v. and go to bed angry and unsatisfied.  I was always so tired, and would long to go to bed, and then I couldn’t sleep.

I knew I wasn’t alone in complaining of never having the time to do what I really wanted to do.  Yet, when I did have the time, I was too tired and too overwhelmed with “should's” to even begin to know how to start accomplishing my “wants.”

Where was the peace?  Where was the happiness I was supposed to be in pursuit of?

This was my life eight years ago, before I married and had my child.  My blog will touch on how I made the transition from being breadwinner to keeping house and making home happy. 

Note:  This post has been updated and expanded in my book How to Thrive on One Income.


  1. I love being able to stay at home with my kids. Yes, it can be stressful too but, I believe it's a different kind of stress.
    I don't think that I'd be able to manage going out to work and taking care of the home. Something always gives, right? Most likely it would be my home and family.



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