On any given day, I’m busy. I run a business. I write. I’m undertaking a huge project down on our new farm, with the accompanying moving stress. I deal with the household stuff, and I have a kid still at home—a high school junior. And a husband. And three cats and two dogs. I sit on two boards, and buh-lieve me, that can be oh-so-much-fun (said in my best sarcastic tone.)
No, I don’t work 36 hours a day.
I don’t even work 16 hours a day, most days anyway.
Call it juggling, call it efficiency, call it whatever—but it works for me.
See, I know how to work, but I also know how to stop. And take a nap. Or read a book. Or do something for me.
I saw a conversation on Facebook earlier this week that talked about career versus family—the age-old debate. You know the one. I happen to fall on the side of yes, you can have it all. With limits.
After all, as adults, we always have limits—it’s not like when we were kids and thought being a grown-up was way cool, ‘cause we could do whatever we wanted to then. Nope. Limits.
Even when my kids were young, I had a lot of free time. Besides the efficiency factor, I also believe that the parents, i.e. your spouse, are the priority. Not the kids. Sure, you care for them and love them, and you spend time with them, and you provide opportunities, but that doesn’t mean you put your own life on hold.
I knew parents, back then, who spent every single evening and weekend shuttling kids around to lessons and practices; parents who scraped by, normally, but found money and time for elaborate vacations. Parents who sat down to “help” their kids with homework all the way into high school. Hey, that’s fine if you want to do that—I didn’t.
I didn’t see my “job” of raising kids to mean that that’s all I did, every day, every week. No, I’m not selfish, I never ignored my kids’ needs. I listened to them, I guided them, I gave them rules to follow, I played with them—none of that “quality time” stuff, though. I remember once when my daughter’s school tried to coerce the “quality time” BS by sending home “family fun packs” or some such nonsense. Like, as a single mom then, I had the time or energy to do those boring projects; we had enough fun and family time on our own schedules, things we actually enjoyed.
My kids tried different lessons and activities, but never more than one or two at a time; they were active in church—and that was a family thing—and around the house, another family thing. We took a couple vacations, on the cheap ‘cause we were always broke, and they had chores to do. And while we were available for homework help, we sure didn’t do it with them. Shoot, I’d already graduated and done the work—and back in the 70s, no sane parent did homework with the kids, for the same reason.
My goal was to raise adults, as they say, and the more self-sufficient my kids became, the happier they were. And me too. Did I put things for myself on the back burner? You bet. I waited to go back to college; I decided against law school. I sold my horses; I lived near good schools, even if I had to pay for the kids to go there.
And all this to say that yes, you can “have it all,” with limits. The ones who think you can’t “have it all” seem to be those who have jobs that practically require 70+ hours per week, and/or those who prefer working to doing almost anything else. Conversely, the mommies who think that being a mom requires 24/7 self-sacrifice are also those who think you can’t “have it all.”
It’s just like anything else—you have to have balance. Sure, you may have to change your plans for yourself or your job if one of your kids needs something, but again, balance; that’s not all or nothing, that’s a change of plans for the one day.
Now that my last one is ready to leave the nest, and yes, he’s ready—one more year of high school, and the kid can cook, clean, do laundry, shop on the cheap, and take care of all kinds of things around the house. And that means more time for other things, for me.
Hence, the laundry list of hats I wear.
See, you can get a lot done with a certain amount of organization. Do I always succeed? Nope. There are times when I’m running in circles or my brain won’t shut down, it just keeps throwing new ideas and plans and to-dos at me. That’s when I stop. I read. I take a nap. I make a list, or three.
And then I’m back on track.
I’ve tried, now and then, to make a schedule. For instance, I’ll write on this day or work on festival things on that day. Doesn’t really work for me. It might work for you. More than likely, I’ll make a master list for the week, anything with a deadline gets noted, and I categorize items by project or, well, category.
Oh, sure, you still have to juggle. If I’m working on one area and suddenly get an idea or remind myself of something else to do, I either have to take a mental note or write it down. I don’t ignore it, but I keep on task, I keep pushing to finish the job.
Of course, sometimes that backfires. If it’s a big project, I tend to procrastinate on starting because I want to start AND FINISH all at once. That’s where another list comes in handy: a running list of steps to complete a big project, because sometimes I just don’t want to do. Breaking it down makes it a little easier to tolerate.
Finally, in case you’re wondering, no, I didn’t prioritize that list in the first paragraph. Just typed as they came to me, and that’s not to say one is more important than another, just what was on my mind at the moment. See, no guilt—you can do that too.