Do you ever look at other moms out there that appear to be doing it all, and wonder how they do it? People ask me this all the time. How do you do it all? It doesn’t matter if you’re a stay-at-home-mom, work-at-home-mom, or work-outside-the-home-mom… or dad, aunt, uncle, or grandparent. It ain’t easy!
Allow me to let you in on a little secret. We’re ALL looking at each other wondering the exact same thing. My secret to doing it all? I DON’T!!! I’m actually pretty lazy.
You see, the whole thing is relative. While you’re sitting there browsing party ideas on Pinterest in between answering work emails, the next mom is working out. While she’s working out, someone else is reading books (I think that’s what they’re called), most likely while pretending to go to the bathroom. Meanwhile, your other friend is working hard to get her side hustle going. And on… and on… and on…
What are your priorities?
What separates all these people from each other, is their priorities. So what are your priorities? This may be a quick and easy answer for you. Or you may need to sit down and think hard on it. Until you figure out your priorities, life is going to feel overwhelming.
I’m serious. Really sit, and think hard. What is it you TRULY care about. If you have kids and family, we all know they’re number one. But when you have that coveted 5 minutes of free time, what do you daydream about doing?
For me, it’s blogging, AKA spilling my guts to you. For one of my friends, it’s running and exercising (blech, but more power to her). Another, it’s working on his RV. Yet others, they’re focused on community volunteering. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law own and run a successful studio and teach kids. Some want to go back to school for more degrees.
The point is, not everyone is going to be interested in the same extracurricular activities as you.
So what does this mean?
No One is Really Doing it All!
They all just have different priorities.
I look at my one friend who is a teacher. She heads up what seems like a ton of organizations for her and her husband’s school, as well as their kids’ school. She gets out of work and will sometimes go for a run. Or maybe she throws a Pinterest-worthy party for all the teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week.
She then manages to go home and get a family dinner on the table at the most reasonable hour in the world. She keeps her friends and family up-to-date on her personal blog with pictures and stories every week or so. And then she and her husband will remodel their bathroom in their spare time, while fitting hiking, skiing, camping, grading papers, running marathons, and coming up with lesson plans in there somewhere.
Oh, and she got her Masters degree while pregnant and gave birth to her second child. Aren’t you exhausted just reading that? She is amazing and she keeps it all together.
Then when I posted on Facebook that I started selling Scentsy, She sent me a text and asked when I slept. SHE was asking ME when I slept. HA!
Yet another friend is a nurse who works graveyard shifts, gets home just in time to take care of the kids, also runs and works out, throws awesome parties, is super creative, oh and went through nursing school while pregnant.
I just got a text from her saying she doesn’t know how I do it all. HA!
What’s that saying about the pot and the kettle?
Then it hit me. It’s hard for someone like me to imagine ever finding time to fit exercise in my life. But that is not one of my priorities. Working on The Search for Imperfection IS one of my priorities, as is planning Pinterest-worthy parties (that’s one of the things we do have in common), and coming up with fun recipes and crafts. So those are the things I spend a lot of time on when I get the chance.
Other people out there can’t imagine how I have a family with little kids, work and travel full time, put together recipes, take pictures, craft, keep up the blog, and still have time for all the other extracurricular activities. And I can’t imagine how those people manage to head up volunteer committees, go for a run, do yoga, iron their kid’s clothes, join a book club, and still make it to all their kids’ soccer games.
It’s all relative.
How do you do it all and still have time for yourself?
1. The Habit of Habits
Accomplishing anything on an ongoing basis is all about creating the habit. I know that when my friend gets out of the habit of running every day, it’s harder to get back into it.
Years ago I got into the habit of doing a weekly meal plan for our dinners, and grocery shopping once a week on Sundays. It’s just part of what my time is allocated for every weekend.
But if something throws off my Sunday shopping trip, all of a sudden I’m buying coffee in the middle of the week, then the next Sunday I don’t think I need coffee because I just bought it. Then we’re out of coffee by the next weekend. I broke the habit.
You probably brush your teeth every morning, right? That is a habit that is just automatically figured into your morning routine, no matter what.
If your priority above all others, outside of taking care of your family, is to work out, you figure the time in and don’t even think about it after a while.
I used to go to bed extremely early (think 8-something), and I love my sleep so very much. It’s one of my favorite things outside of wine and cheese. When I started blogging, my bedtime got later and later, but my body has just adjusted.
Remember, having time for yourself is relative to you.
Making time for the gym?!?!? That is waaaay at the bottom of my priority list. But blogging is not at the top of other’s.
2. Do What Makes You Happy
I am a firm believer in do what makes you happy. If you don’t get any joy out of that hobby of yours, ditch it. (Don’t mistake this as free license to neglect the necessary.)
But if you have tossed all your joys in life to the side in order to start a blog, yet you dread writing for it, or you think you need to throw amazing parties, yet the thought of getting your house ready puts you in the fetal position rocking in the corner… it might be time to rethink your priorities.
3. Ask for Help
We absolutely cannot do it all ourselves. One of the best decisions we ever made was getting rid of our satellite tv service, and hiring a house cleaner instead. We pay a lot less money, for a lot more sanity. The time I got back from cleaning the house was worth double the satellite tv bill.
And if you have a village that helps you out, ask them if they can watch the kids for a couple of hours every other Saturday so you can [insert priority]. Treat your tribe well, and they will be happy to help you out.
The best Christmas present I got this year was one kid-free day per month to work on my blog. It’s the little things.
As moms, we always feel like we have to be THE ONE to do it all. Let that go and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Maximizing your time is all about what’s going to make you feel accomplished before going to bed. If that means you get the dishes done, great! If your goal is to tackle the mail pile/tower, good for you. If you use that time to go for a run instead, more power to you. It’s all relative.
Jennifer Ostroski is a full time mom, full time wife, with a full time job, and a full time life, that she loves to keep very full. She has two kids, one husband, and a Labradoodle. She created The Search for Imperfection as a way to offer realistic (sometimes semi-green) parenting, eating, and homemaking tips to help busy parents navigate life and embrace imperfection. You can also find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter, sharing all sorts of encouraging tips that will help you feel better about yourself!