Back when this was just a little blog, I got many requests to write a post on how I was able to “do-it-all”. I assume that meant how I work full-time, also working on the side as a makeup artist, blogging, while trying my best to be a good mom, chicken farmer and with a husband who works interesting hours. Things may have changed since then, but my response never will…
Let’s be clear, I by no means think I do it all. What does that even mean, really? I think the concept of doing-it-all is just an ever-looming pressure we feel from all this social media comparison that is constantly at our fingertips. Yes, you know what I mean, your friend threw an epic birthday party for her daughter’s 2nd birthday that was fit for a celebrity and you can’t even find the time to wash your hair.
The fact that some readers thought I was on top of it was astonishing to me, because I’m the no-hair-washer (dry shampoo forever!) And I am always very aware that there are others in this world that have it much harder than me, so who would I be to ever say, “Oh, I do-it-all.”
I think the root of this question, however, was how do I BALANCE. How do I put this puzzle together, or do I? Actually, I throw all those puzzle pieces in my purse as I run out the door. They’re all still there, it’s just not pretty and I can’t find most of them on demand.
Balance looks different to all of us and will require different components, but only you will know if you feel like you’re able to fire on all cylinders. There is no perfect equation for surviving Motherhood, or life for that matter, other than knowing and asking for what you need. But since I was asked, here are a few tips that help me not lose my ever-loving mind:
By this I mean if you have to work, don’t settle. I chose to go back to work to keep my brain muscles flexing and to help support our family. I surveyed what was available in the job market and applied for the best fit(s) and then fought for what I wanted. I’m telling you, this is key. When I was asked about my desires, goals and downfalls in my interview, I was blatantly transparent. “My family is my life, but I work really hard. I want to achieve both personal and organizational goals, I want to better myself and who I work for… and I am never going to be on time.”
I have a small child and I’m not good with timelines, I know that about me. I rarely even know what time it is or even the day. As my husband says, there’s no hurry about me. I straight up told them I would never be a 9-5 gal, but I would always get the job done. I got hired and I feel like it is because I was who I am. These may not be your terms, but the point is, say what you need and who you are, you’ll find a job that fits into your lifestyle and makes working a bit more tolerable, if not enjoyable.
If you have a strong family presence that will help you with childcare, errands or what have you, utilize them. If you don’t, rely on friends, caretakers, teachers, those you trust. Whenever anyone asks how they can help, give them a task. Ain’t no shame. Rely on the kindness of others. Let others help take care of your family and the little things so you can take care of yourself, and in turn be better for your family.
Speaking of taking care of yourself, go workout. I’m not talking about looking good, being skinny or fitting into a certain size. I’m talking about getting your blood pumping, your heart rate up and circulation flowing. Your brain, heart and everything else will thank you. And for goodness sake, don’t do something grueling. There are 10,000 ways to bust a move, do something fun! You’ll feel better all the way around. Feeling crunched on time? Put baby in a bouncer and do a 4 minute high intensity deal, they definitely work. Or just take a walk/dance/chase around the house with the family, bonding plus benefits.
As mentioned, I can’t do it all and I certainly don’t. But I do a little bit of everything and somehow it equates. Sometimes (read: almost every day) I get overwhelmed with my work load, the junk laying around my house or how far behind I am on emails/bills/laundry – so I’ll just say to myself or my husband, “15 minutes – GO!” File your papers, organize your office, do the dishes, answer emails, actually put those clothes in the dryer/take them out of the dryer instead of endlessly fluffing, pick up toys; you can do anything for a 1/4 of an hour and it makes a huge difference. Knowing it won’t last forever makes it doable and it will make an impact.
I mean, not all together… I’m Southern, so presentation is ev-er-y-thing. Appearing to be put together at all times is in my blood and breaking that barrier has been extremely tough for me. It literally hurts my soul when people come over and my house (and myself) isn’t host-ready, but I just don’t have the capacity to care anymore. You shouldn’t either.
No one expects you to be perfect, except maybe you. I read somewhere along the way that if I have to clean for you, you can’t be my friend – and AMEN TO THAT. It’s my motto now and if someone loves me and is part of my life, they know I’m maxed out 95% of the time. I’m not going to clean my glass coffee table so you can sit your glass of wine on it, no M’am. And you’ll get over my yoga pants covered in fuzz and God-knows-what, because you’ll probably leave wearing the same. To that note, I also heard somewhere that a clean house is a sign of a wasted childhood. If you have small children, you know the struggle is real. Sanitary is one thing, perfectly tidy… let that stress go.
This is a multidimensional step. A rested Mom is a good Mom; they can’t function if you can’t, so in the physical sense, get your sleep where you can. Don’t over extend yourself, don’t binge watch that extra episode or feel like you have to go to XYZ – buy yourself another hour of quality shut eye instead. (That’s another great step, be okay with saying “No”.)
In the bigger sense, stop fighting things. Life is hard. Being a parent is tiring. Working wears you out and hardly anything goes to plan and that is okay. It’s our natural reaction to want to be on top, to be happy, to be into everything, get everything done. When we feel tired, sad or even depressed, when our hearts are broken and bodies are weary, we feel like we have to snap out of it – and that is simply not true. Take those times to feel the emotion. Stop worrying about what comes next. Just breathe, just be. Settle into that sadness, or exhaustion and just accept it and let it pass. You have to honor yourself in every state, not just the good times.
This journey isn’t all roses and honey, and the best thing about it is there’s a whole human race that has walked both the high and low road, and plenty of other women who’ve been right where you are, so you’re never alone. I say don’t do it all. Don’t even put that pressure on yourself. Do what you can, however you can and pat yourself on the back for whatever that is. Because it is definitely enough.
Amanda Reade is the Editor of ABP and often also a Contributor. With a long career in Public Relations & Communications, Amanda turns her love of writing and talking towards some of the best (and safest) products on the market, and also muses on Motherhood and Life from her POV. She’d prefer you grab a glass of wine before you start reading.