How do you do it all?

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It happens to me quite regularly. I’ll be talking to someone and she (it’s almost always a she) shakes her head and says, “I don’t know how you do it all.”

I always shrug, thinking, I don’t think I want to think about it. But as I canvassed the aisles at Aldi this weekend, murmuring options for a line in a song that was causing me trouble, I realized, This is how I do it all.

And so, here is my answer to the question: How does this stay-at-home mom, freelance writer, flute and voice teacher, composer, blogger, choir director, NFP teacher, scrapbooker, sometime-chef and budding disability rights activist do it all?

  1. I get up every day at 5:30. Sometimes 4, if a kidlet wakes me up.
  2. Except for the early months of nursing, I’m a huge believer in schedules and routines. (And even then, the baby is the only one who doesn’t have a schedule.)
  3. I believe that days when nothing is scheduled are ALWAYS the LEAST productive. You see all that white space and think you think you have a little time to relax and do nothing, and then suddenly the day’s gone and you’ve done…you got it—nothing.
  4. I plan the day in chunks: before we do X at 9a.m., I must accomplish Y.
  5. I read fast and type faster. (Though I occasionally hit “post” before I think.)
  6. I pay babysitters so I have time to write.
  7. I’m a compulsive list maker, because my memory isn’t great. Except for song lyrics, of which I know hundreds.
  8. I break everything down into very small tasks, and use them as plot points toward a larger goal.
  9. I am a compulsive multitasker. While web pages upload, I grab food from the refrigerator; then I respond to a comment and run back to get the food in the microwave and come back to read the next email. While I nurse, I do my neck stretches and read. Although I do get distracted by teasing the baby and making him laugh. You can’t just ignore a baby attached to you. It’s contrary to nature. 😉
  10. When I don’t have kids in the car with me, I turn the radio off and think through something: to-do list, story plotting, playing around with opening lines.
  11. When I need to work on the piano, I take the kids downstairs and play for a few minutes, then sit down and compose while they play. The little ones love the music.
  12. I use therapy appointments, when one or two kids are distracted, to clean floors, do dishes, run through email, etc.
  13. I do not watch TV during the day. Ever. At. All. In the One Baby era, I used to watch movies, but that ship has sailed.
  14. I hardly ever sit down for lunch. I make bread, feed the baby and read my Writer’s Digest in between bites.
  15. Whenever there’s a pause in the action, I think, Okay, I have three minutes. What can I accomplish in three minutes?
  16. I DON’T pay babysitters to run errands or go grocery shopping. I take them with me and put up with the whining.
  17. I DON’T play Farmville or Mafia Wars, and I join no snowball or pillow fights. Sorry, folks. Where the bleep bleep bleep do you people find time for that stuff?????
  18. I DON’T participate much in discussions on list serves. Partly because I receive things in digest and everything I want to say has been said by the time I get the initial question.
  19. I can’t underestimate the Kid factor. My kids are naturally good at entertaining themselves, and I have encouraged them in this trait. So that’s a big part of my puzzle.
  20. And finally, I accept that nothing is going to get done perfectly. I’m all about “adequate.” Which drives my husband crazy, as he is all about the details. For me, details are limited to kids and submissions. Everything else can do without.

You might say, “But Kate, what about time to enjoy your kids?” Well, there’s some truth to that, but as busy as I am, I really do enjoy my kids. My life is not a particularly relaxing one, but it’s productive, and that works for me.

What are your tips for getting it all done?

6 thoughts on “How do you do it all?

  1. I hear you…that is how I do it. Lists. Multi-tasking. Taking the kids with me on errands. Teach my kids to play together so I have time to do what I need to around home. My only regret is not getting a career in something I could do from home. So I have to spend at least 40 hours away from home to “do all I do.” Thank God my husband works nights and weekends so we still get some of that home-stuff done!

    Good for you, though! I’m embarking on adding writing to my busy schedule…I haven’t been good about scheduling my time for that…so I definitely need to do that…maybe 4 a.m. should be my wake-up time!

    • Yes, except for always being exhausted…. 😉

      I think it would be hard to be on opposite schedules. I already get frustrated with how little of our evenings we have to spend as a family, between lessons & choir…but you do what you have to do.

  2. I don’t even have children and I am already learning the high value of tight schedules.

    I think that a lot of life is about what we choose to spend our time on & it is clear that you choose to spend your time on getting things done with your children. Good for you. 🙂

  3. Louisa

    “I’m a compulsive list maker, because my memory isn’t great. Except for song lyrics, of which I know hundreds.”

    I’m glad someone else is like that!! I have awful trouble remembering things yet if a song from 5 years ago plays on the radio I can sing along to it word for word!

    Also, when you said about you’re children being able to entertain themselves, please don’t feel too awful about not being able to spend all your time playing with your children. Growing up, my mum worked from home yet would leave my brother and I to play away ourselves. I still believe to this day that it has given me greater independence, compared to friends of mine who spent all day with their mothers. I don’t mind being by myself and getting things done 🙂

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