Everyone says this phrase and I think it especially gets said to mothers – “I just don’t know how you do it all” – I have people saying that to me all the time, and I don’t really know how to respond because the truth of the matter is that I’m not doing it all. Yes, there is a lot on my plate these days but there’s a lot that I don’t do as well.
In this new season of life with three little ones at home and now a child in ‘real’ school, I thought it might be handy to idea share and to let you in on my personal system/beliefs that are working for me.
Before I dive in, I want to preface with the fact that I found great comfort during a training session at my work that stated that top performers review, change and implement new systems every 6-9 months. I was always changing how we did different systems at our office and I felt “why can’t I just get things perfect?” When it turns out that it’s normal that over time as life changes, you have to change the system that manages it all, so outside of the office this makes complete sense too. Don’t beat yourself up if you’re always switching systems at home – it probably needs to be changed because life changed.
This also allows me to say that this is about what I’m doing well right now, I certainly don’t have it all together, but right now these are the things that are helping me be the best version of myself.
- Energy management- I think I’ve gotten decently good at understanding my own personal energy – how much I’ve got of it, when it’s at its highest, lowest, how to recharge it, etc. and I think this is one of the keys to getting a lot done. I know that I am most awake, alert and excited about things in the morning. I know that I am most focused mentally in the morning, so I try to get prayer time in then, I try to get most of my tasks done then. When I am low in the energy department, especially in the afternoon, I try to see if there’s a way for me to recharge – close my eyes for a few minutes, journal, etc and if I’m just completely depleted maybe I should just try and not do anything that requires a lot of brainpower – easier tasks or ones that I’m excited about but don’t require too much energy. I also try and pay attention if I’m just completely useless that I should probably just “shut down.”
- Silence/Prayer – I have shared a lot about my prayer life journey on here and I have found that I ache for silence and prayer when I haven’t been doing it enough. When my energy is depleted, prayer fills it back up. I have found that I don’t always need so much of talking or active prayer conversation but sitting in silence for a little bit with a lit candle, a cup of coffee and trying to place myself in the presence of God. Now that isn’t always the case, but most of the time, God has given me some grace in those moments to feel ready to move forward with the day or the next task.
- Say no – I say yes to a lot of things; however, I try to be diligent in not over extending myself. I don’t want to do a poor job or be crabby to anyone by saying yes and especially saying yes to something I don’t enjoy. I have come to find that I thrive in an “administrative, knowledge/research, vision/goal casting” type work, so I say yes to those things and no to the others (when I can). I also say no to things that will just overwhelm me at the time, and here’s the key – without guilt! I have not made myself feel guilty for not volunteering for the majority of Ava’s school activities and fundraisers this year because I am tapped out – I’m at my limit this year with work, traveling husband, and a baby so it’s a hard no on most things at her school for right now, but next year that could change! There is absolutely no sense in me feeling guilty for this because it would take away brainpower and energy. I know I’m doing the best I can right now and I don’t want to be a grump because I’m overwhelmed – that doesn’t help anyone.
- No work on the weekends – I almost never do work or check emails on the weekends or evenings unless necessary.
- No guilt – People talk about mom guilt, especially working mom’s, and I’m not sure how I’ve avoided this, but I honestly don’t feel guilty about 99% of my decisions as a mom. I am pretty darn present with them when I’m home, I love my children to pieces and they know it, and I love their daycare and what they get from it, so I just don’t feel guilty about my mom decisions. I’m not sure how to help someone else arrive at this point, but it saves me a ton of energy and mental anguish.
- Let it go – Let all the “other stuff” go that’s not important and get to it when you can. I make a list every week day when I sit down at the office of a brain dump of what I need to do and it’s a massive list. Then I number off the 6 most important things and try to get those done, overtime some just keep falling to the bottom of the list – that’s ok because it means I probably didn’t need to do it in the first place. I mentally do the same with my home and guess what, most of the time cleaning the washing sheets falls below spending time with my children! I always have massive laundry piles of washed and not folded clothes and a junk drawer that could stand to be organized, the list goes on and when it starts to get to me, I try and think about my life and priorities and I always come back to the fact that I’d still choose the things that I am doing (working at my career, spending time with my children and husband, praying) over the smaller tasks, and so I try really hard to not let it bother me that my home is not and never will be perfect. (I know a lot of people swear by hiring help for these things and I think more power to you; however, I think it would cause me more work in the end because I’d have to remember when they were coming and prepare, so I have yet to try that out.)
- Find your why – I found a lot of freedom when I clarified for myself last year (after reading Simon Sinek’s Start with Why) that my personal why was to help people become the best version of themselves. It allowed me to find even more purpose in my already purposeful career and to realize the why behind what I’ve chose to spend my time on with volunteer roles and how I parent my children, etc. I think deciding your why gives you permission to do what most fills you up and leave the rest behind without feeling guilty about it.
So, there you have it. What helps you “do it all?”