"How do you do it all?" Easy. I don't.

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CM

“How do you do it all?” This is a question I am asked a lot, and one that I have mixed feelings about answering.

On the one hand, it is a perfectly natural query when people find out that I am a high school teacher and a mom who also writes books. But it’s also a question that always makes me feel a little bit sad, because it is usually (okay: always) women who are asking, and I always hope that the subtext is not Man, I feel like such a slacker compared to her.

One the plus side, the question is a good one because it allows me to set the record straight. Here is my answer: I don’t do it all. There is actually a very great deal that I leave undone.

It probably so happens, in fact, that the things I don’t do are the very things that the women who are asking me do do (now say that ten times really fast), and if we were all to share how we spend our time, we’d probably all feel a little bit better about ourselves.

So in that spirit, I will now air my dirty laundry. I don’t do it all, and here’s proof.

1) Aside from the bathroom and the kitchen, I don’t clean the house unless we have people coming over. Periodically I get inspired to run the vacuum or sweep, but this does not happen on a regular basis. Yes, this means that the corners are sometimes home to Goldfish cracker fragments which, if carbon-dated, would make me slink away in shame. But we deal.

2) Over eight Halloweens and two kids, I’ve only made one homemade costume. (Melissa and Doug do such a good job! Why compete?)

3) About twice or three times a week, our meals are the open-the-bag, put-it-in-the-skillet-and-push-it-around-for-a-while variety. I don’t mind admitting that Trader Joe is a very important man in my life.

4) My last entry in Luke’s baby book was about five and a half years ago. He is six. (I honestly feel kind of bad about this one, especially as the younger child so often gets the short end of the stick. Then again, I’m not too current on my first son’s baby book, either.)

5) Whenever we have a potluck or such at work, I always sign up to bring drinks. I actually like baking and cooking, but having to produce twenty-five cupcakes midweek and under pressure is just too much for my sanity.

6) Ironing? What’s that again?

I could go on, believe me. My point is that it’s so easy to fall into the comparison game. I know I do it too, when Facebook friends post pictures of the fabulous iced cake they just made for their child’s birthday or of their beautifully handmade floral arrangement or of their yard’s festive holiday decorations.

And yet I have to remind myself that it is not the same person doing all of this. We tend to see blog and Facebook and Pinterest posts and forget that there are multiple people doing these things, that it’s not one fearsome Stepford/Martha Stewart über-wife/mother. That woman doesn’t exist, except in our insecure little imaginations.

Life is about choices, about deciding how you are going to spend the free time you have. It’s about identifying what gives you life – prayer, dance parties with your kids, time at the gym, a really good book, scrapbooking, knitting – and letting other things go. The reality is that all moms cut corners somewhere, somehow. As long as there are only twenty-four hours in a day and we don’t all have live-in Downton Abbey-like help, that’s just how it is going to be.

I’m learning to make my peace with this reality. Hopefully you are, too. Hopefully all of us can learn to let ourselves off the evil comparison hook and be content with what we do manage to get done, whatever that happens to be, even if it’s different from the mom next door.

But I do have one little favor to ask: would you call and invite yourself over for dinner? The house could use a good dusting.

Copyright 2015 Ginny Kubitz Moyer
Photo copyright 2015 Ginny Kubitz Moyer. All rights reserved.

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About Author

Ginny Kubitz Moyer is the author of Random MOMents of Grace:Experiencing God in the Adventures of Motherhood and Taste and See: Experiencing the Goodness of God with Our Five Senses. Check out her blog Random Acts of Momness (http://randomactsofmomness.com) for thoughts on faith, parenting, writing, and the occasional ode to Jane Austen.

6 Comments

  1. Thanks a lot for your post. It was encouraging and hopefully I can come to peace with doing what I can/prioritize too. When you talked about not cleaning very much, I had to wonder, are you a person who just naturally doesn’t have clutter? That’s the biggest thing that stresses me out.. Thanks!

    • Hi Meg — thanks for your kind words. I hear you about the clutter/stress thing. I do actually get a lot of clutter around the house — two boys with lots of toys — and I do my best to make them clean that up each day. Having Lego pieces littered all over the living room is a major drag. The thing I don’t do regularly is a really intensive cleaning — for example, Lego pieces tend to sit UNDER furniture for, well, a year before I find them! Clutter can definitely add to stress so I think it’s all about finding the sweet spot where you can enjoy your environment without spending hours each day cleaning it all. (Unless, of course, you are the kind of woman who gets joy from cleaning — then go for it!)

  2. Thanks so much for this article, Ginny. I’m 50, have 6 kids, and live on a farm. This was a great reminder for me. Somehow I’ve slid into the do-everything mode over the past year or two. I feel much better after having read this! (Plus it made me laugh!)
    By the way, I have 5 boys, all of whom are Lego nuts. We’ve found that the best way to keep them contained is to dedicate a small room (or a large corner of a room) to Legos. Each boy get a shelf for his finished masterpieces or works-in-progress, and there were enough boxes or storage units for the loose Lego bricks. There were always Legos on the floor, of course, but they couldn’t travel beyond the room or the border of the corner. This system helped us not only keep the Legos from travelling all over the house, but it also saved us some money because those things aren’t cheap!
    Hope that helps someone!

    • Thank you, Elyse! I like your Lego tip about how to contain them and keep them from spreading all over the house. Wouldn’t it be great if there were such a thing as an invisible fence that kept them from crossing the border? Some mom needs to invent that. 🙂 I’m glad the article made you smile.

  3. This is great, Ginny! I love that quote that’s gone around about how we tend to compare our insides to other people’s outsides, it’s unfair to ourselves and those we compare to. We put way too much pressure on ourselves and fail to appreciate other’s talents and gifts when we compare enviously. Thanks for sharing your reality.

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