"How does she do it all?!"
There's always that one person who seems to be doing it all. Gifted in every area, possessing strengths in every possible attribute, they know and do it all with grace and ease. They are simultaneously running a business, raising babies, crafting, sewing, gardening, canning, volunteering on the weekends and organizing a food drive for the homeless, all the while serving on 3 different committees and are head of the PTA.
Meanwhile, some of us can't even seem to get our laundry done.
But I assure you, no matter how or what it seems, they aren't "doing it all". Sure, they are doing a lot of things, and maybe even a lot of really GREAT things, but they aren't doing it all. No one is.
Recently, I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Inspired to Action, and Kat Lee had on Jess Connolly as a guest. You can check it out HERE. If you don't know who Jess is, she's a successful author and blogger, with all kinds of amazing things going on for her. She is definitely one of those that I am tempted to look at and think, "How in the world does she raise 4 children and still do it all?!"
But guess what. She doesn't.
She shared on the podcast about how everyone has their "to-do lists" and while those are obviously helpful and important, she think it's just as important to have a "Don't-Do list". Sure, go ahead and take time to jot down ideas and items for your to-do list, and then think about some things that you're going to let go of. Leave alone. Just, NOT do. Because we all know by now, we can't do it all. So why do we keep trying?
For example, she shared some of the things on her "Don't-do List". Once a week maybe, she uses real dishes. For all of the other days, it's paper plates. And cooking? She doesn't cook, her husband does. Oh and come to think of it, he does the laundry too. Turns out there's quite a few things she just "doesn't do". Like birthday parties. That's right, no parties. Just a day (or evening) spent hanging out with family and cousins for their celebration. Take that, Pinterest.
And while she was saying these things and I was trying to pick up my jaw from off the floor, the podcaster (Kat Lee) was nodding in agreement. "Oh yeah my husband does the cooking too." So THAT'S how these successful women do it all. Turns out they DON'T! And I hope that thought is as freeing for you as it was for me.
Here are some items on my "Don't-Do List". Not all of these are blanket statements, and they certainly aren't permanently on the Don't-do-list, but they are somewhat for now:
1. Decorating for every change in season or holiday.
I don't decorate for "spring" and I don't think I've ever even tried for Easter, St. Patrick's Day, Valentine's Day, 4th of July....o.k. so basically I decorate for Christmas. The rest of the year I just try and keep my house (somewhat) clean. That's it.
2. Gardening and canning.
This is not to say I've never canned or had a garden, because I have done both, and I hope to get back into it in the future. But this past year, I didn't do any canning, and the little garden that we had suffered. I knew that I was in over my head already with expecting our 4th baby at the end of summer, and so I just decided to let the canning go. And I have been so glad that I did.
3. A lot of extra commitments.
I have been learning to say "no" perhaps more than ever before, and it has been life-saving. Whether it is small things like singing on the worship team at church, or bigger responsibilities, I have been carefully evaluating each "yes" that I give, and because of the demands on my time these days, it means a lot less "yes" and a lot more "no". It won't always be this way, but it is for now. For example, you may remember me starting an Etsy shop with a friend last spring....yes, well I am a little embarrassed to say I didn't even make it through one whole year before backing out of that. My friend kept the shop open, and so you can still check it out for your baby needs! I am just no longer involved. And as humbling as it is to realize that you can't do it all, you NEED to realize that. For the sake of your own sanity, and your loved ones.
I used to take photo shoots of my kids a LOT. And I would edit all of the pictures, and post them to my blog, and make little Shutterfly books and....no. Just no. Now I snap photos with my phone and post on Instagram, and that's about it. We occasionally get Chapbooks made of them, but that's all. And you know what? So far we've all survived.
This is not a new item on my don't-do-list, as it has basically never even been a "to-do" in the first place. I will occasionally iron an especially wrinkly item of clothing before needing it for a certain event. That is it. No regular ironing.
Well, that's all I can think of for now, but I'm seriously thinking about testing out the no-cooking theory with my husband. I think it's safe to say the entire world would be a better place if that could happen. He actually enjoys it, is interested in it, and is very good at it, as opposed to me, who cooks because it's healthier and cheaper than take-out. That's the only reason why. I wish I enjoyed it and thrived on it like so many seem to, but I just don't.
Also, I clean my house, but I don't have anything even remotely CLOSE to a cleaning schedule. I just try to keep it above the level of chaos as much as possible. One time I was reading this blog, and the blogger was talking about changing bedding and said *insert slightly aghast tone* "I wouldn't say you have to change them every day but PLEASE tell me you don't go longer than a week". That's not a direct quote, but it was something to that effect. And all I could think of was, "I certainly hope you don't EVER discover how often (or not often) I wash everybody's sheets." I also feel that way when I hear about people who vacuum and/or mop every day. But ANYWAY. Moving on before you all think I'm a disgusting slob who never cleans anything.....
I just think we need need NEED to remember that we don't have to do it all. And even if everyone else was (which they're not) we still wouldn't need to. For those that seem to? Well, we don't know how often they have a "mother's helper" or a babysitter or even hire a housecleaner. We don't know how much their families help out, if they are blessed enough to be surrounded by family. We don't know how often their husbands do the dishes, or the cooking, or BOTH (I know mine does at times). And we don't see the things they've let go of, or said no to, to be able to write that book, produce that podcast, or run that business.
We need to just have the self-confidence to realize that even if we're not doing everything straight out of Becky Home-ecky's handbook, it's OK. We're ok. Our families are ok. And as long as our husbands and children know they are safe and loved and cherished and valued, then who gives a care about whether all of the laundry is done?
OH and speaking of laundry, they reference that very topic in the episode I linked. WHAT is with our obsession with getting the laundry done? I mean, seriously? You do realize that even while you dry, fold and put away that last, final load, you are wearing clothes that will need washing, right? THE LAUNDRY WILL NEVER BE FINISHED UNTIL WE ARE ALL DEAD. So just keep enough clean clothes in drawers somewhere for people to wear the next day, and stop freaking out already. Laundry can wait. I can't even tell you how many summer days these past few years I let the laundry piles sit and we went to the park, or swam in the river, or played outside.
And guess what. When I am old and gray and surrounded by neatly folded piles of socks and towels, I wouldn't trade a single one of those memories to be able to go back and do a load of laundry.
Happy Monday, folks! Put something on your don't-do-list today.
, by Shelley Smucker