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How do you do it all?
A question I have heard many times over the years from friends or family members.
The answer is quite simple.
I guess sometimes it appeared to the outside world that I did everything and possibly even did it well.
Here’s a secret…
I wasn’t doing everything, I wasn’t doing it well and the times when I was doing too much I secretly battled anxiety and depression. (a story for another day).
If you take my adult life as a whole, it really does seem like I’m doing it all. I work full-time, I teach a class as an adjunct on the side, I work on this blog, I run half marathons, I attend work out classes, I raise two children, I have a husband who works nights, I go on vacations, I occasionally volunteer, I have fun, I scrapbook, I spend time with family and friends, I go to church, I read A LOT, I’m part of a book club, I get 8-9 hours of sleep at night, I plan our meals and make dinner, I attend events at my daughter’s school, I maintain the family budget and I organize our home life.
I’m not doing all of those things at the same time in my life.
Have I trained for and run half-marathons?
However, when I am training for a half-marathon I’m not sleeping as much or attending as many workout classes.
Do I sometimes have three jobs?
But when all three of those jobs overlap the blog gets less time, my house is messier and sometimes I miss a workout, or two or three.
Do I get 8 hours of sleep most nights?
When my kids were infants I didn’t. When work is busier, I don’t. When my overall schedule is super busy I don’t.
The point is if you look at my life in the big picture I’m doing it all, but day to day I’m not.
For every season of life I have to make choices for what is important to me.
When Amelia was an infant, I was working full-time, but I wasn’t also teaching and starting a blog. In fact, I wasn’t doing much other than working my full-time job, trying to care for two children and keeping our home functioning.
Now that my new full-time job allows a lot more flexibility, I am able to really dedicate time to my blog and to a regular workout routine.
I don’t get to scrapbook much except when I go on weekend retreats. Scrapbooking is not easy to do with small children around who want to help out. I know as my children get older, I will have more free time that I can scrapbook at home without their “help.”
While it looks like I’m doing it all, there are a lot more things that I say NO to.
I have learned the fine art of saying no and I prioritize where my time goes.
One thing that I almost always say NO to is television. You can probably catch me watching about 1 hour of a television in a given week and there are many weeks that I watch none.
When I get invited to spend time with friends I always consider if I have the time and if that is how I want to spend my time. My friends might be going shopping and I will probably pass because I really don’t like shopping. Of course, there is value in spending time with friends, but sometimes, I have to say no because I want to say yes to something else.
There are always going to be trade-offs in life.
By saying yes to one thing you most certainly will have to say no to something else. It doesn’t have to mean no forever, it might just mean no for this season of life.
Remember that just because it looks like someone is doing it all, it doesn’t mean they are. (side note: never believe the images you see on social media either. Almost everyone is putting their best self on display on the Internet)
This is a picture I posted on Thanksgiving. I could have just posted it with no words or #Thankful. Everyone else who looked at it would have thought my life was perfect. What I did post was the truth:
Social media often times makes us feel inadequate when we see everyone else’s “highlight reels.” While this picture looks like a highlight reel, it is not. What you cannot see is the million meltdowns this child had all day. You can’t hear the crazy barking dog or the mom who lost it one too many times. You can’t see the near failure of a turkey, the butter smeared all over the kitchen, or the night shift husband asleep amidst the chaos. Today there were more tears than laughter, and that’s real life. Keeping it “real” this Thanksgiving. Tomorrow is a new day.
Be kind to yourself. Do what you can and remember if you say yes in one area of your life you inevitably have to say no somewhere else. I promise you those people you think are perfect and doing it all, aren’t. They are struggling one way or another and there are some areas of their life that you may not see where they aren’t spending time.