My Answer To The "How Do You Do It All?" Question



I balanced Clarice on my hip as I took the papers from the pediatrician.  The kids were driving their Hot Wheels cars on the white, probably non-sterile exam room floor (I cringe just typing that), and I asked them to stand up again as I attempted to listen to the doctor’s instructions.  I got everyone on their feet, tossed the papers she gave me under the stroller and thanked her as she complimented my skirt.  Then our pediatrician asked how I managed to look so put together with so many kids.


And I smiled and laughed it off, and said “I don’t know.”

I know this doctor to be a mom herself, so I think she was probably sincerely wondering - just like a friend of mine recently, when she asked me how I have four kids and lead a discussion group at MOPS, help host a Bible study at church, take pictures of the kids, read books, and volunteer with a pregnancy center (I don’t think she knows about my blog or it probably would have made the list).  I laughed it off until she looked me in the eyes and said, “No, I really want to know - how do you find time to do all this?”

And her question took me aback, because she and our mutual friends were all there, waiting for my answer.  And I just don’t know.

I think they were waiting for something profound, but honestly I sat there in silence, thinking. When she listed it all out like that, it did sound like a lot. How do I fit everything in?  What do I not do to make room?  Well, I’ll tell you right now that I don’t really cook.  I can cook, but instead of creating elaborate meals we most of the time eat something frozen or from a box, and I’m okay with that.  The kids still get all their food groups in, but we do quick dinners most nights.  But beyond that, I couldn’t think of things that I am not doing to make room - probably because I’m not doing them.  They aren’t even on my radar.  

I laughed at that comment from our doctor, because I had a stain on my shirt, and she was standing there with smooth hair and a clean, nice outfit herself. I imagine she woke up, got dressed, and walked out the door looking cute without having to fuss over what to wear, like I did. I sat there feeling lost at my friend’s question, because I really don’t feel like I do that much.  I take care of my family and squeeze a few things in on the side because they are things that are important to me.  I bet if she sat down and listed out how much she does in a week, it would sound like a lot too.  

I believe that we make the time for the things that are important to us.  I suspect that these ladies were doing many things that I don’t do, things that were important to them as well. Aside from caring for my family, these are just the things that are important to me (and so is wearing makeup), so I make the time.  We don’t all have the same important things, and don’t make the mistake of thinking someone else must be doing everything you do plus whatever-it-is. 

I think about some ladies I know and feel like a frumpy failure at productivity.  They accomplish so much, and I can’t even figure out how.  I feel that way myself.  But only because I too forget that we all have different things that fill our days, and the things that fill mine aren’t the same things that fill theirs.

Sometimes these questions make me feel awkward and slightly guilty, as if I’m cluelessly neglecting a mom duty of which I am unaware. But I fight the feeling, because I know for a fact that no one else is thinking that way when they ask me how I “do it all”.  I think they just don’t realize how much they themselves do.

And maybe that’s really the answer to the question of “How do you do it all?”  I don’t, just like you don’t. We just do different things.

So if you’ve ever looked at someone else and thought or verbalized the “How does she do it all question - I’d say, don’t minimize the things you do.  Figure out what your “important things” are, and do those important things well.  Then forget about what everyone else is doing.  It's okay if your list is shorter than someone else's, and we need to do different things, or the world wouldn’t go round.

Do you ever wonder how other moms accomplish so much?  Have you ever been asked how you do it all?  What did you say?





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Gina babybluemom.com said...

Perfectly said and so encouraging.

Anonymous said...

Love this!

Elizabeth said...

I appreciate you sharing this! So true, we are all limited to 24 hours, so for every thing we do, we choose NOT to do something else. My husband sometimes uses a graph to log everything he does, just to see how it breaks down. We have hot meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner here, and don't have a dishwasher. That is most of the day right there. Also, my firstborn at least has never put himself to sleep. So 2-3 hours of every day go toward just getting him to sleep. When he was a baby he breastfed for hours and hours while I was chained to the sofa. I will respectfully say that a lot depends on the personality of one's children. Being a mother is never easy, but certain aspects are easier in different families. It would surprise me to be asked how I do it all, but I think if you look around my house you would see that cleaning is not high on the list. It's not on purpose, but I do start cooking projects before the kitchen is cleaned, etc. I don't really know when I would do something like vacuum as my kids pretty much demand all of my attention. That's one thing I don't get about other moms...I guess they just train their kids to play by themselves?

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