“How do you find the time to blog and do fun stuff with your kids and garden and cook…. And you have four kids! How do you do it?”
I get asked that question quite a bit.
On the weekend I attended Blogopolis, Nuffnang’s first blogging conference here in Melbourne, and I was asked this question quite a few times. I wasn’t quite sure how to answer it. I mean, I’m not doing anything different from any of the other stay at home mums I know, and I’m probably juggling a lot less than mothers who work outside the home. But you do it all, or as much as you can possibly squeeze in to 24 hours because you can… because you have to.. because its your job. Right?
Driving home from Blogopolis, with only a snoring baby to keep me company, I began to really ponder this question. How do I balance all the things I juggle? Do I do anything different to other parents? What is the answer to that question… how do I do it all?
I Don’t Do it All.
The easy answer to this question is that I don’t. I don’t do it all.
I’m sure my blog paints a much more organised and less insane picture of my life than the actual reality. I try to keep things fairly down to earth and real here on my blog, but I also try not to dwell on the negatives in life so I don’t blog about them all that much either.
I do blog about days when things go wrong (which happens quite a lot) and if you look closely, in the background of most images on this blog you’ll see piles of unfolded washing, dirty table cloths, un-swept floors and kids with boogers on their faces. Testament to the fact that I can’t ‘do it all’ and usually don’t even try.
Sometimes I get bogged down in the reality of a messy house and no clean clothes and the fact that my middle boy watches more TV than I’d like, but I try not to let those things rule my life. I wish I was more organised, more motivated and more on top of things, but I am who I am. I can procrastinate with the best of them and I am not neat and tidy so I don’t let those failings hold me back or get me down.
I pick and choose from the things that I really need to do and the things that I really want to do and I make priorities. If it’s not a priority it often doesn’t get done, and I’m ok with that.
I Write Lists
I have a notebook that I take everywhere and I write lots of notes and lists.
I write down what we’re having for dinner, what I need to buy at the shops, what I’m going to blog about this week, things I have to do, things I’d like to do, Christmas present ideas, random ideas that float into my head…. I write them all down. Writing them down doesn’t mean they’ll actually get done… I let go of that aspect of To Do lists a long time ago! Writing them down just gets them out of my head. It helps me to wrap my brain around what I’m doing and it helps me to remember, or at least remember that I’ve written down in my note book!
I Take the Easy Way Out
I learnt long ago that it is easy to make things more difficult than they have to be. Simplifying things might seem like cutting corners at times, but really, in the end, does anyone notice whether the birthday cake was perfectly decorated or not? Does anyone care if a favourite dinner is repeated every week or two? Does anyone know whether your child’s hair was perfectly neat when they left for school? I’m voting that they don’t (and don’t anyone tell me different ok!).
So if there is an easy way to do things I take it.
I cook simple but good meals, with basic but wholesome ingredients. I don’t go for fancy or special or different when it comes to every day family food, it’s a waste of time and effort in our house. In the garden I grow things that I know will grow well with little input (and you’d be surprised at how many plants will grow with total neglect) and I don’t garden in winter because I don’t like the cold! I wash all our clothes in together… yes even the whites. I don’t separate colours unless it is something I know will run or something white that is very special. I only iron for weddings and funerals, and then only if I REALLY have to.
I am always looking for systems and ways to do things that makes life easier and blogs are a fabulous place to find them! Planning with Kids, The Organised House Wife, and Small Notebook are some of my favs.
I Don’t Play With My Kids
Yes, you read that correctly…. I don’t play with my kids, at least, not very often.
Yes I set up fun and interesting activities for my kids to do, I make sure there is a variety of toys to play with and safe spaces in which to play, and I am there when my kids need me, but I don’t plan to spend time actually, personally, involved in their play. Sometimes I join in their play when they are doing something that I am interested in, or if I have a spare moment and it looks like fun, or if one of my children needs me to be present for some reason, but on the whole I don’t play with my children.
I’ve written more about why I don’t play with my kids in this post, but here are some practical things that we do that makes this work for us….
We set up our home so that it facilitates easy, safe and successful independent play.
We offer a variety of toys that are mostly ‘open ended’ and can be used in a variety of different ways and by different aged children.
We rotate toys to keep them fresh, but not so often that the kid’s don’t have time to really explore them.
We set up for easy packing up, but try to let go of adult expectations that any of the kids will actually pack up without help, even the seven year olds!
We set up play scenes following our children’s interests which engage them for periods of time.
The art activities we do are usually quite simple, entirely doable by the children (sometimes younger ones need help but mostly not) and open ended, not requiring much adult interaction at all.
The children play and we do our adult work in the same spaces so we are there when needed (this will be even easier when our renovations are done!)
We let the children be part of our work if they wish.
So there are some of the things that I think help me get through the days, maybe they’ll help you too? But really, no one can do it ALL, and even if they could I doubt they’d be much fun to be around anyway!
How do you ‘do it all’? Got any great tips to share?