How Do You Do It All?
At a birthday party we hosted for our 2nd child I was chatting some of the parents as I interacted with each of my 4 kids. I could almost see the wheels turning in their minds as they counted children. Then came the oft asked questions.
“How many children do you have?” followed by “How do you do it all?”
“I don’t know how you do it” is also popular.
My standard response is as follows.
“There are many days I don’t.”
I began to embrace this philosophy a couple of years ago. Friends of ours from church invited us to dinner one Sunday evening. The mom was a stay-at-home-mom who also worked a few shifts a week at Target, and the dad was a career diplomat with the US State Department. Both parents held busy callings (volunteer church jobs as Mormons have a lay ministry) in our congregation, and their kids had hobbies and were active in school extra curriculars and sports.
Our conversation came around to the “How do you do it all?” questions we both received from time to time. The mom was quite candid, and below is her paraphrased quote.
“Oh I tell everyone the secret to my success with 5 kids.,” she said. “It’s taking a look at everything and just lowering your expectations.“
Boom. There you have it world. My ancient parenting secret. That is how I “do it all.” I don’t. There are days the kids eat chicken nuggets and tater tots, and there are days that I make everything from scratch. There are days the house is spotless–well parts of it are spotless–and there are days I pronounce the kitchen clean-ish with a sweeping gesture before I head to bed. There are days when the kids cooperate and play nicely with minimal involvement and there are days when no manner of re-direction, encouragement or punishment has the desired effect and I invoke the power of Disney Jr. for a moment’s peace.
It may seem like I am settling like something that is less than optimal. And if your perspective is that everything needs to be perfect that may be true. Perhaps changing the phrase to reasonable expectations is more palatable. I am trying to let some things go to so I can make room for other things. Leaving a room less than tidy so I can read a book with a kid, or refusing to referee one of the countless childhood squabbles that pop up (as long as hitting isn’t involved) so I can get going on a new recipe.
To those of you who “do it all” on a regular basis I salute you and strive to emulate your perfection.
To those of you who don’t, it’s okay. I’m there with you. Let’s give ourselves a break as we have good days and bad days in getting it all done in this happy mess called life.