At least once a week I have people ask me “how do you do it all?”
Obviously these people aren’t close friends, they are just kind strangers who wonder how a mother of two toddlers, a 2 year old boy with a taste for danger and a 3 1/2 year old girl who constantly talks and plays, a professional blogger and herb based business owner keeps everything going. My close friends and family know I don’t do it all, and I don’t always keep it together. Life is hard, kids are hard, running a business is hard, having food allergies is hard, and being a loving mother and wife is hard. It takes constant effort and attention to keep everything up in the air, and to be honest, sometimes a ball falls.
So how does she do it all? With help!
I think today we have unreasonable expectations that one person has to do everything perfectly, without help, and be happy about it. We are living in a society with so many expectations of perfection that puts so much social pressure on women and men both that we are just constantly stressed about not being perfect. People just live in this constant stressed state and it causes health problems both mental and physical. Not so long ago families used to live together, not just the immediate family of father, mother and children, but also brothers, sisters, parents and grandparents all in one family unit. There used to be more hands in a home to tend children, cook meals, clean, do household and farm chores, hunt and otherwise provide for the family. Humans developed in tight knit communities where there was help when we needed it.
Mothers weren’t expected to have a clean house, cook for a family of four, be perfectly dressed with her hair done days after having a baby. They were put into isolation with the child for 6-8 weeks under the care of the other women of the house who would feed her, help her with her other children, and help take care of things while mom was bonding with the new baby, figuring out breastfeeding, and healing.
We don’t have that any more. Our society wants us to be independent and survive without the help of others. In the United States paid maternity leave is at the discretion of the woman’s employer and paid paternity leave is almost unheard of still. A lot of times a woman’s close family can’t even come watch the other kids for a few weeks and help around the house while the woman is recovering from delivering a human into this world because they too have jobs without much paid leave and have to work.
Moving on into the workplace women and men both are expected to work 40+ hour weeks, come home, spend time with the family, raise children into functional adults, help with homework and chores, and keep it together. Sometime between the 40 hour work week and family time they are supposed to provide three healthy meals a day, keep the house clean, see friends and be social, and to do it all perfectly without help and complaint.
Is there a balance? How can we do it all?
I honestly don’t think we can. We need help. It may be hired help like a nanny, baby sitter, daycare, house keeper, meal service, personal assistant, or something more. It also could be free help from grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, or even moms we have gotten to know who may be willing to trade baby sitting for house cleaning, or do a daycare trade where you watch their kids 2 days a week and they watch your kids two days a week. We need help. Accepting the idea that we need help can bring such a euphoric feeling. The stress relieving properties of having someone help you a few hours a week are unparalleled.
But what if you can’t afford to hire someone to help? Many people work one or more full time jobs just to keep a roof over their head and food in their stomachs. They don’t have the time or ability to hire anyone even working constant over time. A lot of people, even us in the “middle class” don’t have the financial ability to hire helpers. I personally have never been able to pay a baby sitter, we have never been able to afford for someone to clean our house (although that is one of my lifetime goals),we don’t pay for extras. We can’t. I am hoping one day we can but for now we are where we.
Let me talk a little bit about my own situation and then share with you some ways we have gotten help from our community, and given it in return.
My husband works a full time job at our local school district. He takes the bus to and from work an hour and a half each way. We only have one car so he saves us a lot of money on insurance and a car payment by taking public transportation. While riding the bus he is usually writing a book, reading or listening to a pod cast, three things he finds to be very relaxing and enjoyable. This kid free time allows him to shine and nurture his individual goals and needs.
From 6 am when he leaves for work to 6 pm when he gets home I watch the kids. I usually cook a healthy gluten free breakfast, lunch and dinner the whole family can enjoy. Often times that means making the kids some combination of gluten free oatmeal, eggs, yogurt, fruit and pasture raised breakfast meats while I make my self something I can eat usually involving a lot of veggies and some healthy happy animals. Lunch is usually left overs or something easy like homemade GF noodles and cheese – my kids favorite. I tend to make enough dinner to last for at least two meals. This way we always have leftovers and never run out of anything to eat. My husband takes leftovers to work for lunch saving more money, supporting our health, and allowing me not to have to be super mom and make up lunch for everyone every.single.day. Let me also add that the crock pot is my best friend. I can start dinner early in the day and just leave it until it is ready to serve at the end of the day. Whoever invented the crock pot should be sainted.
Throughout the day the kids will go play with each other and I will check business e-mail, social media accounts, and do other business stuff that I can drop at the scream of a child to run and help them do whatever it is they are doing. Independent play is a working mom’s best friend. We usually go to play-dates, a park or on a hike looking for herbs and other plant friends in the morning, but lunch time and beyond is play time at home, either in the back yard or in the house. My daughter doesn’t nap anymore but my son does, so while he naps I usually let my daughter go out back or play games on the Ipad while I do the work I actually need to concentrate on, like packing herb boxes, printing labels, or handling financial stuff. I can’t really do anything creative like writing around the kids because they take too much of my attention.
When my husband gets home at night he keeps the kids entertained while I finish dinner, we eat together then the kids take a bath with my husband while I sit downstairs and enjoy the quiet. It is a glorious thing.
We put the kids to bed then I usually check e-mails, sometimes Ill go to my herb shop in the basement and work on herb boxes if it is that time of the month, sometimes Ill write a post if my brain is still working, sometimes I will drool on my self until its bed time. My husband does the dishes and cleans the kitchen and we both try to pick up a little bit so the house isn’t a complete disaster. We try to make it a point to spend time with each other every night. Because of this chaotic schedule we have actually had to make it a point to touch each other every day. Just sit together and hold hands, hug, kiss, but we had to make that a priority in our lives. After we both had a long day we need to reconnect and have let that slip at a few points in our relationship. Each time we have had to learn to reconnect.
On the weekends we dedicate one day to spending time together as a family and I get to go off and work during my son’s nap time while my husband gets one on one time with our daughter, and one day I get to work a whole uninterrupted 8 hours. It is amazing how much you can get done in an uninterrupted 8 hour stretch. It is kind of glorious.
I make it a point for my health and the health of my family to be in bed by 10pm.
My husband and I both have chronic illnesses that result in a lot of pain so we juggle what we can the best we can, but sometimes the house is a complete disaster, sometimes we eat gluten free pizza or chipolte for dinner, sometimes the kids watch too much TV, but we get things done.
I have to say how thankful I am for the community we have found here in Colorado. I am a member and an officer of our local MOMS Club. We have weekly play dates for the kids age groups, and other whole group play dates at parks, members homes, local museums, the zoo, and more. We do all sorts of fun activities that get the kids and I out of the house. Both they and I have made some wonderful friends through MOMS and I think our group is especially wonderful because there is no cattyness, no rumors, no mean girls just a bunch of moms with kids. When a mother gives birth we organize to bring her food for 10 days – often times these are huge meals with a good amount of leftovers. When I had my son they even took special care to bring me and my family gluten free food. Some moms have created a babysitting swap so if mom has a doctors appointment she can ask for someone to watch her kids for a few hours, then in return the watching mom gets “points” – so to speak – so she can then have someone else watch her kids for a few hours one day. These are women and families we have been around for years and know and trust. It is a wonderful resource. You can see if you have a local MOMS Club here.
There are other great parenting groups on sites like Meetup that you can check out until you find one that fits your needs. Another great moms group you might enjoy if you are Christian is MOPS. I am sure most churches have moms groups, you can always ask!
If you are a mom with a business you might find other local business people to trade services with you. This is something I will be doing soon, trading herbal appointments and handmade herbal goodies for services I need like house cleaning, lawn mowing, baby sitting (only with people I know and trust), general office and assistant work and more. This way we both get something we need without having to pay money for it. Bartering is a great way to be functional and get a little bit closer to “doing it all” without having to spend a lot of money.
For this blog I am bringing on some amazing contributors to help me keep bringing you some awesome, natural loving content that you love. You will start seeing their shining faces and great posts in May. I am so excited! (no we are not accepting more contributors at this time).
For my Natural Herbal Living Business I have hired people to help me make the business a success. There are things I am just not good at like editing, photography, accounting, and finding time to maintain all of my social media accounts. Bringing people onto my team who do these things well saves me so much time, effort and stress that I am able to spend more time focusing on my family, and I can provide a better product to my subscribers. This is where investing in my business is very important. I have yet to pay my self any decent amount for the hours I work, but being able to grow my business professionally and providing a good product will pay for its self in the long run.
At the end of the day my house is never spotless, I need a professional organizer to put away and find things for me – but don’t have one, and my kids have holes in their clothes and their hair is often wild.
All of that aside my kids and my husband know they are loved, we eat good real food, we spend time together, we are always learning growing and doing our best to have fun. We are loved, what else matters? Who cares if the house is a mess or I haven’t had a hair cut in two years? We are making memories and I am doing a job I love, teaching people about natural non toxic living, real food, and bringing herbs to the people. Really what more do you need?
Now for the exciting part.
I have been nominated as one of the Top 100 Moms in Business Competition. If you could take one minute to support me and help me win some great business coaching I would appreciate it! All you have to do is follow this link and click vote!
How do you do it all?
Do you have any tricks or tips on how you manage your time, home, kids, business, family or anything else? What do you gladly let go? Where do you find help in your community?
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