The title of this post is extremely misleading, because—spoiler alert—I don’t do it all. But lately, I’ve been asked, over and over and over again how I do it all. How do I stay at home with my two girls (ages 3 and 1), how do I work (freelance writer, keeping up my own blog, and run a Pampered Chef business), how do I keep a clean(ish) house, how do I put homemade food on the table almost every night, and the list goes on. And honestly, when people ask me about how I do it all I’m usually shocked because I absolutely don’t and can’t do it all, but then I feel a little bit like superwoman (hey, I said I’m being honest here), because when I think about it, I am doing a lot.
So lean in close, fellow moms, because I’m about to share some highly coveted secrets that will tell you how you too, can do it all.
How To Do It All:
1. Realize you can’t do it all.
Here is my number one tip on how to do it all: realize you can’t. The sooner you realize that Superwoman is a single lady who probably lives in some swanky studio apartment instead of being a wife and a mom with little rascals running around who demand that she does something with/for them every 2.5 seconds, it’s easy to see how she can get everything done and save the world.
Unfortunately, you live in the real world where nap times go askew, and kids wake up before the crack of dawn. You don’t live in la-la land where everyone eats everything you put down in front of them, and they blissfully help you keep the house clean. Speaking of your home, it doesn’t look like an HGTV magazine, because Hurricane Toddlers storm through it daily, and those bags under your eyes aren’t from partying all night. This is real life, and here’s the cold, hard truth: you can’t do it all. BUT, there are a few ways you can certainly lessen your load and make the 24 hours in the day work for you instead of against you.
2. Put Away The Guilt
Now that you’ve put your Superwoman cape away, you also need to set aside that mom guilt and make a list. Get an old-fashioned piece of paper and draw a line down the middle of it. On one side write down exactly what’s making you feel crazy and overwhelmed, and on the other side list things you’d rather be doing (things that make you happy that you don’t have time for). I was at my breaking point when I did this and after making my list I discovered two things I desperately needed help with: cleaning and childcare, and one thing I really wanted to do: write more.
It was extremely hard for me to admit that I needed help with cleaning and childcare, because…hello! I was a stay at home mom. My literal job title implied that I stay home. How could I have someone else come clean my house when I have two perfectly good arms that can scrub and sweep? And how could I take my child(ren) somewhere for someone else to watch her when I stay home?
3. Hire Outside Help
I need to note that when I made my list—besides my husband’s job—I didn’t have much additional income coming in, so it was very hard to justify paying someone to help. But, you know the phrases, “You have to spend money to make money,” and “When mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy,”? Well, they’re both true.
My first step was to find a few hours for myself during the week. I searched around and found a mother’s morning out program at a local church, and I started taking Julia there for three hours a day twice a week. Having those six hours to myself was life changing. I was also pregnant at the time, so I went home to nap, which was glorious. Those six hours were what I needed to start focusing more on monetizing my blog; it was exhilarating having extra money come in even though I spent exactly what I made on the MMO program. My point is that I finally found some “me time,” and it made me remember who I was again.
During the summer, when MMO ended, I hired a babysitter/nanny to come to the house three days a week for 3-4 hours at a time. This worked extremely well, especially since I had two kids by then. And most recently, my schedule looked like this: Julia would go to preschool twice a week and then I’d have a sitter come over the other three days.
It’s all about baby steps. Unless you’re transitioning quickly into a full-time job, you don’t have to send your kid(s) away from 9-5, too. I started with short bursts and worked my way up to longer stretches of time. I loved knowing that I’d have my mornings “free” to work on whatever projects I had up my sleeve.
Finding a House Cleaner
I wrote about this in detail here, but the other thing on my list that I desperately needed help with was keeping up with my house. This was extremely hard to admit, because I feel like there’s a stigma that we as women (no matter if you’re a stay at home, work at home, or work outside of home mom), shouldn’t ask for help cleaning your own home. Well you know what? I hate cleaning. Hate it. On top of that, in order to get what I wanted done, I’d have to remove the kids and the dog from the scene for an entire day just to get things done. My husband, even though he’s a huge help around the house, was tired of me complaining, so he suggested I look into hiring someone…so I did.
The house cleaner we used does in four hours what would take me a week broken up here and there; I’d literally spend all of my free time cleaning, and that would make me a very grumpy person.
I know expense is definitely an issue in this matter, but it was important to us, so we’ve budgeted it in for once or twice a month. It can also be a personal hurdle to jump over—letting a stranger come into your house to literally see your dirty laundry—but I got over that pretty quickly once I saw the end results. Coming home to a sparkly clean house is an unbelievable weight off my shoulders.
3. Just Say No
Another thing I’m just starting to realize is the power of saying, “No.” I recently had a freelance job that was started taking up too much time away from my family because of its weekly deadlines. I also wasn’t making enough to justify the time I spent working. So I said I couldn’t do it anymore, and I walked away. This was my first reliable “job” I’ve had in years, and I was thrilled to have it on my resume, so realizing that I couldn’t do it was a very hard decision.
I suggest you find your “no.” Maybe, in order to do what you want to do, you’ll have to stop volunteering somewhere for a little while, or you’ll have to say no to that particular play date. Or maybe you’ll have to say no to social media or binging on that latest Netflix show. Figure out if there’s something standing in your way, and move things around (or say no) to make your life work better for you.
4. Cheat (with food)
I mentioned that people have asked me how I get a home-cooked meal on the table almost every night, and I have three answers: I cheat, I use my crock pot, and I love my Pampered Chef stuff.
Let’s talk about cheating first. You guys, dinner doesn’t have to be hard and complicated. Did you know there’s something out there called 5-minute rice? Make a big batch of rice in the morning or on the weekend, and then you don’t have to worry about it for dinner. Or better yet, put some rice-in-a-bag (the kind that cook in 90 seconds) in the pantry, and you’ll have an easy side dish on hand whenever you need it. I “cheat” by making things semi homemade.
Look for shortcuts with your favorite meals to make them less complicated. Dice, slice, cut, and wash your food as soon as you get it home from the grocery store so it’s ready to go for the week so you’re not frantically working on prepping things before dinner.
AND whenever you’re making a batch of something the family really likes (pastas, enchiladas, lasagna, soups/stews, etc), double or triple it and then freeze the extras for later. I can’t tell you how valuable frozen meals are. They’re amazing.
Use the Crock Pot!
The crock pot is a glorious invention: USE IT! There are thousands of recipes out there for slow cookers, so pick a few and try them out. Letting something slowly cook all day or all afternoon means that you’re not slaving over the stove, which is a big ol’ win in my book. My favorite are the ones where you literally dump all the ingredients into the pot. Done and done!
Pampered Chef to the Rescue
I swear this isn’t a giant advertisement for my business—I just literally love these products. If I’m not doing one of the above, then I’m using my Pampered Chef stuff to make my life a whole lot easier. One of my absolute favorite gadgets for getting dinner on the table fast is my Rockcrok. Not to be confused with the crock pot, but the Rockcrok is enameled clay and it can go in my microwave, stove top, oven, broiler, the grill, and in the dishwasher. I make one-pot meals in less than 20 minutes pretty much from start to finish. Lasagna, hot wings, soup, pasta, fajitas, spaghetti and acorn squash (10 minutes), baked potatoes (5 minutes), and the list can go on. It’s so versatile that I don’t have to dirty other pots or pans; it literally does it all.
That’s it. Those are all the trips I have up my sleeves for “how I do it all.” It’s truly really a work in progress, and it’s not going to happen over night. Also keep in mind, that one tiny little change in the schedule can throw everything for a loop. I often get very flustered and frustrated when something changes; I’m learning to go with the flow. Working for myself (and not taking on as many outside projects right now) is helping me maintain control, which keeps me more at ease. Until both girls are in school, I need to remember that I am a mom first despite, and even if we have a messy house, and fast food for lunch every other day, we’ll still be a-okay.
I also often think about those women in my life who wear their super-mom capes well (even if they don’t realize it). My friends who have multiple children, special needs kids, and husbands who are gone far often. If they can do it, then I most definitely can figure out a way to do it, too.
Do you do it all, or do you have any tips on how you keep your life organized so you can do (almost) everything you want?