Yesterday afternoon, my husband noticed I was a bit “off.” “What’s going on? Why are you upset? Did something happen?” he asked. My response? “I haven’t gotten anything done today. It’s been a waste. It’s 3 pm, and I have nothing to show for my day.”

Like many, I measure the success of my days (and my life) by how much I accomplish. Sometimes, other things take a backseat to my ambition. I like to tick things off a list. I like tangible evidence that something happened. A chapter full of new words. A pile of folded laundry. A sparkling kitchen. A pan of lasagna. An empty inbox. These things I can measure. These things are surely the sign of a “productive” day right? Not necessarily.

After speaking to my husband, my first instinct was to make a list of chores that needed to be done or start working on a blog post or my next book. I wanted to DO something.

At about the same time, I noticed my oldest daughter. Her best friend (her brother) was gone for the day, and she’d been home due to freezing rain. Up until this point, she’d pretty much spent the day alone. I wanted to finish up the laundry, vacuum up the mess my youngest daughter had made at snack-time, and finish my menu planning. Instead, I made a choice to go play with my daughter. Honestly, I intended to play for a few minutes, and get on with “what mattered.”

She and I ended up playing a game until an hour and a half past her bedtime! (As I write this, we’re still playing…the next morning!) My house is quite a bit messier than usual. The laundry isn’t done. The menu isn’t planned. There are still Puffs and Cheerios ground into the carpet. But you know what? I had something to show for my day…..something worth far more than folded towels or knowing that I’m going to make stroganoff next Thursday. I did something that mattered. I let my daughter know she mattered.

This year, I want to choose what matters. It doesn’t matter if my knick-knacks get a little bit dusty, if we have cracker crumbs on the floor, or if the train tracks get left out for a few days. It does matter if my children feel loved or not. It matters if they know they are valued. It matters if they spend time with their parents.

I’ll be sharing some tips and time-savers over the next week to help do the things that don’t matter quite so much faster, so you can have time for what really matters.

Today, my “homework” for you is to let a few things go. This is a personal challenge that I will be working on this year. I want you to overlook a few “to-do” items each day. Let a few of the things that usually get our attention go. Maybe like me, you need to let a few chores go each day. Maybe you need to check in on social media a few less times per day. You might need to minimize your tv time, or spend less time on your phone. I’m asking you to trade in a chunk of your time each day for your kids. Start small. Spend 15 extra minutes playing. (REALLY playing….not sitting on the couch with your iphone while THEY play.) Interact. Converse. PLAY. I think you’ll find that you go to bed happier and more fulfilled than you would have if you’d spent time time vacuuming, checking emails, or changing the sheets.

Have fun as you spend more time on the things that matter.