I can’t tell you how often I get told “I don’t know how you do it all.”
Us moms have a ton of responsibilities, many of us are the default parent and homemaker, others work outside the home, some work from home, a lot of us do a bit of all of it. No matter what your mom title is – we all work, and we work hard. And I know you get this same question: how do you juggle it all?
If you don’t know me, you may not know the extent of my responsibilities, so I’ll share that here with you: mom of 3 boys under 5, homemaker, default parent, owner of 3 small businesses in very different categories, 30 year old matriarch to one side of the family – hosting every holiday falls on my shoulders for our family, our home is under construction, active member of my local MOPS meetups, constantly working on my mental wellness and just this month I’m on an elimination diet. That’s a lot of balls to juggle, yeah? But here’s my not-so-secret secret…
I’m not a circus performer and you don’t need to be either.
It might look like I’m doing a lot, but that’s not true. I’m not juggling any balls, I’m throwing them around one at a time. I compartmentalize, and I prioritize, and I reassess my priorities often.
This is the secret that men don’t know they need to tell us.
A woman’s mind works like spaghetti, all the thoughts layer and mingle together. It’s the way we think and it can work to our benefit in most cases. But it can also be what destroys us and leads to our higher risk of anxiety disorders and overwhelm.
You can do anything, but you can’t do everything.
By learning to focus on one thing at a time, it allows us to both do a more thorough job (or build a deeper connection) and it helps us to finish quicker and move on. Lingering tasks that are only half complete are just a form of clutter and that causes anxiety!
Try using a priority matrix to determine what’s most important to focus on, right now, and to help decide what can wait.
It’s often said that being a mom is a 24 hour job. That’s sort of true. Also, no it’s not.
Let me explain that. You never stop being a mom. Once you’re a mom, that’s it, it’s forever and it’s always. But it’s not a job.
Moms have a lot of responsibilities, true. But what is it to be a mom? It’s a relationship; it’s being there for your children as they need you, it’s snuggles, it’s bedtime stories, it’s kissing boo boos and mending broken hearts, it’s love.
It’s not a job, though. It’s not work. Just like being a wife isn’t a job, it’s an all the time relationship. You can’t put your husband on your priority list, right behind dishes and laundry, and expect to have a happy, healthy, lasting marriage. Your marriage is work, but not a job. Same goes for motherhood.
Before you were a mom, you were someone else – you were an adult, maybe even a homemaker or a housewife. Or maybe you had a career outside the home, maybe you still do. Taking care of your finances, your home, all the dishes and laundry, cooking and cleaning, those were still your responsibilities. That’s not something that comes with motherhood.
If you think being a mom involves any housework, you’ve got this confused, and I don’t blame you. It’s an easy correlation to make, many moms are also homemakers. But BEING a mom, does not mean being a homemaker. It’s a coincidence is all.
Here is where we learn to compartmentalize. Motherhood is not the same as homemaking. Motherhood is a relationship with your children, which you do have to own up for 24 hours a day.
Homemaking is not synonymous with motherhood. Homemaking is an unpaid job, that’s all your chores and to dos, that is caring for your home and I have a piece of wisdom to drop on you: homemaking is not a 24 hour job.
Homemaking doesn’t even need to take up a lot of hours. If you think it does, you’re probably making it harder than you need to and/or have unrealistic expectations of yourself and your home.
I live by the 9-5 rule. I have made a promise to myself and my family that all my homemaking will take place from 9-5. After 5pm, I clock out. I drop my to do lists, forget the chores, stop stressing, and enjoy the quality time with my family and myself.
This is a kind of lazy form of time blocking, or schedule blocking. Not only is it good for you mentally to clock out from the work-at-home day, but it’s also more productive. This forces you to work towards batching tasks during one time period, instead of spreading yourself thin all day.
Would you be interested in learning more about time blocking? Please let me know in the comments!
I’m sure you know by now that your identity is not found in your motherhood, right? Well, your value is not found in how much you do or don’t do at home each day.
A common complaint of moms is that we believe we don’t do enough, and therefore are not enough. Let me say it now, that’s a fricking lie. Get it out of your head right now.
You are not what you do. Let me say it again,
YOU ARE NOT WHAT YOU DO.
When you find yourself attaching your worth to what you do, and feeling like you should be doing more, try these two options:
- Track every single thing you actually do for a whole day. Every single diaper change, every snack prepared, every moment spent snuggling. You do so much mama! And seeing that on paper will make it so much clearer to you.
- Answer this – what does “enough” look like? Are you placing unrealistic expectations on yourself? What’s the bare minimum you could do today that would be enough?
You’re a busy woman, I know. You do a lot every day, for everyone else. You’re a rockstar, but I’m gonna ask you to do just one more thing today.
Take time for yourself. Do something you enjoy today, don’t wait till tomorrow. Bonus points if it’s by yourself and in the quiet. Give yourself room to think and to simply be.
While you’re taking a little time to yourself, I want you to meditate on this question from Emily P Freeman (author of The Next Right Thing):
When in the last 24 hours, have you felt most like yourself?
The answer may surprise you. When I was first asked this, I realized my love for gardening and the outdoors. I’m by no means good at gardening – my thumb is more brown than green – and I had been letting that fact keep me from spending my time where I really wanted to be – playing in the dirt.
Find your happy place, your hobby, your passion, and don’t let your own expectations get in your way.
You deserve joy, go find it, mama!