I’ve got a lot on my plate. I do. Recently I’ve been asked by several people, “How do you do it all?” I always shrug my shoulders and say, “I don’t know. I just do.” But that isn’t really the whole truth.
I can definitely say without a doubt that the last twelve months have been the most challenging of my life (and surely, my husband would say it’s up there for him too): my husband was transferred to another school due to budget cuts (and we had taught at the same school the entire time we’ve known each other); I had an unexpected pregnancy that resulted in a miscarriage; we have had unending frustrations with how our profession and institution is treated, and most recently, we lost our last grandparent (my grandma) and had to figure out the best way to talk about death and grief with our boys twice this year, not to mention other challenges life has thrown our way.
The last twelve months I’ve also been busier than I’ve ever been: I’ve continued my work as a mother, wife, teacher, coach, blog writer, education association representative, and then added, weekly newspaper columnist and education association committee chair, both adding significant commitments to my plate. Oh, probably should add chauffeur and cheerleader in there now that both kids are involved in activities throughout the year.
Now, I’m really not listing these things for pity, or to toot my own horn, but rather to answer the question, “How do you do it all?” The truth is really two-fold.
First, I do it all because I have to do it all. Part of that is, well, I like doing it of course, and also because in some areas, if I don’t do it, who will? But a bigger part is that, certainly, I recognize there is a relationship between the worst year of my life to the busiest year of my life. I keep myself busy by working, planning, writing, and fighting for important causes so that I feel like I can control something in my life. When everything feels so out of my hands, I need to do something tangible. That’s not to say that I don’t deal with the negative things in my life–I do. In my own way. And this is part of that.
Second, I do it all because I am lucky enough to have a husband who supports all that I do. Really though, if I’m being honest here, I do not really “do it all”; in order to keep up with all of my stuff, I have to not care about some other stuff, so I could go around the house singing my own version of “Let It Go” for housework. Frankly, I hate cleaning. And laundry. Ugh, laundry is the worst. I let it go (long ago). And I let things pile up for another day, like clutter on the kitchen table.
Luckily, my husband handles most of this. And I know I am very lucky for that. I know he gets annoyed with me simply not caring about letting it go sometimes, but I do appreciate what he does. He’s also really great with our boys. Despite the fact that they can be a handful at times (understatement), he tries to keep them busy with their “boys’ night, party time” nights and weekends without me.
I know that I’m lucky to have a spouse who supports what I do and takes care of much of the household responsibilities, making it possible for me to “do it all.” Because really, I don’t do it all; I have help. I know not everyone has that, but many of us put far too much on our plate, and we have to really evaluate what we do. Are there things you can let go? Or at least put off until another day? If you’re struggling with how to juggle everything you do, try to let something go for a bit. You might find that you don’t need to do it as much as you thought. If you let some activity go and don’t miss it, well, you didn’t need to include it after all. If you miss it, then you can figure out a way to do it again. Find ways to ease your load. Find ways to budget a housekeeper for a few times a month. Save time by using a meal delivery service or get groceries delivered. Find your mom tribe and do babysitting exchanges. There are certainly ways to accomplish everything you want to do.
After all, doing it all should include spending more time making memories with our families, and I make it a point to do that as well. In the end, the most important thing on my plate is my boys, and they’ll see that it’s possible to do it all when the family works together.