“I just don’t know how you do it all,” …words I am pretty sure most working moms are very familiar with. Usually I laugh it off and say something cliche about how I just do the best I can, or how I really have no clue either. But the real truth is…I don’t.
What does this mean? I’m not just talking about the fact that my house is never completely clean or that some days I am rushing to the grocery store at 9:45 to grab things to make sure lunches are packed for the next morning. Those of course do happen…but what I am talking about is the fact that really, no one can do it all.
Being a working mom for seven years now, I have learned a few things. Maybe you have been for longer and have wisdom to share with me, or are just a much faster learner than me but I am still getting the hang of it some days.
1. I have learned that if I do not have to do it all, then don’t. I have been fortunate to have a husband who is supportive and loves his kids. He may not do things the way I would, but it is most definitely easier to work as a team. He helps cooks meals, does store runs, and actually does a lot of our school drop offs and pick ups. Each family is going to look different and not everyone is going to have a two parent family, but that does not mean you are still doing it all (see point 2).
2. Create your dream team. We have a daycare for our youngest that we love and she loves. We know she has a great time while she is there and we have safe, reliable care…which if you are a working parent you know this is gold. There is nothing worse than scrambling for care for the next day because your babysitter is sick or just quit with less than 24 hours notice (yup been there too). We also have friends that we know we can call when we do need help, and we in turn help them out when we can. Eventually there is a school pro-d day, a school pick up, or one of those days traffic is just terrible and having a list of friends to call is huge in those moments of panic. As we become more financially able, we hope to add to our dream team. Again this could look different family to family, but having someone come clean your house, having groceries delivered, or getting a babysitter to come help out can all add to making life less chaotic.
3. Simplify your life. This has been a life saver for us and at times we find ourselves in a place we need to go back and do it again. When we are feeling too busy and overwhelmed, we “declutter” our schedule. What are the things we want or need to keep and what is the extra? We usually only have our children in 1 extracurricular activity at a time and try to only do 1 social activity (whether that is for our kids or us adults) per weekend. We try to save some time for us in our little family and the occasional extended family get together. It can be easy to get caught up in all the things we could do. While friendships and fun are important, it is also important to rest, relax, and even to have time to catch up on those mundane tasks that start to pile up. Getting a break and tackling those tasks is often a huge stress reliever.
4. Simplify your house. This has been a process for me but the more I do this, the more I appreciate having our house less cluttered. The reality is, we spend a lot of time out if the house-at school, work, daycare, and our and about on the weekends. We don’t really need piles of toys and random “stuff.” The more our house is de-cluttered and organized, the quicker it is to clean. Which is a huge time saver and makes my weekends a whole lot more fun. The reality is that working parents really only have evenings and weekends to cram in the cleaning, chores, errands among the birthday parties, family time, homework, etc so the less work it is, the better.
5. Put your kids to work. Initially this is more of a struggle and more time consuming but the more responsibilities my girls are able to take on, the easier it is for our household to run smoothly. They still need reminders but help with our pets, picking up after themselves, taking out recycling, cleaning their rooms,help vaccum, and just recently I taught them how to clean our bathroom sinks. They often do not do a perfect job or complain the entire time but it’s amazing how much faster 4 people can clean a room than 1!
6. And last but not least, be okay not being perfect. I have to remind myself I am only one person. I may wish I could volunteer for that field trip, make a cake for a friend’s baby shower, make perfect 5 course meals from scratch, and keep a picture perfect house (all the while working out, keeping up with my children’s needs, spending time with family, and having a great relationship with my husband.)
The reality is, no one can do it all. I cannot do it all. I have to choose what is the most important that I do this day, this week, this year. I will disappoint others sometimes. I will disappoint myself often. But that’s okay, because I am not alone., and tomorrow is another day.