“I don’t know how you do it”.
I hear this phrase so often.
It’s always well meant, with people knowing that I have three kids aged 6, 4 and 18 months, that I work outside the home four days a week (hurray for parental leave) and that I spend up to 4 hours every day commuting, with broken sleep, oh and that I find the time to cook, and to blog.
But I’ll be honest, I do get a bit tired of hearing it.
That’s partly because I feel like I didn’t choose to do whatever it is people don’t know how I do, or maybe that I didn’t choose to do it like this, so I do what most people do, and just get on with it. So, I don’t feel like I deserve the praise for “doing it”.
And I certainly don’t think that I do it all. There’s so much more that I’d like to have time for. I do what I think that I need to do, and sacrifice the rest. I prioritise the things that I spend time on based on what I think is important. This means that there are often home-baked muffins in the house while baskets of ironing remain undone, and dusty skirting boards are left to accumulate more dust while we go for a walk in the woods or cut up magazines. Others may have pristine houses or might not make home cooked meals, this is the way that I do it. Those extra things that I decide to do are how I try to get the most from life, so when it inevitably gets hard, I focus on the good stuff and it help me recalibrate.
Also, it’s not just me that “does it”. My husband is the one who gets the kids out the door every morning, I’m already at my desk 90km away before they leave the house. He does whatever it is too.
When I talk about making choices to bake and not tidy I do realise that some choices that I’ve made brought me to where I am today. I chose to have kids, and chose that there would be three of them. Their arrivals were planned, no surprises, their age gaps planned too. (It goes without saying that my husband was involved in making all of these decisions too, two mentions in one blogpost, he’ll be shocked).
But I didn’t choose to get made redundant and to try to find another job, and then to double my commute with my new job but that’s another story.
I choose to make most meals from scratch (yes, we eat chicken nuggets and takeaways too). I choose to bake with the the kids, choose to bring them places at weekends, choose to write about it in my spare time.
When I can help it I don’t choose to do laundry, wash floors or do the dusting. This is all evident from the state of my house, however, these things do need to be done to keep the place ticking over, but I prioritise against them.
How do I do it? Here’s how it works:
I get up in the morning and do what you need to do to get out the door. My husband (three mentions now!) gets the kids out so my morning duties are confined to lunchbox assembly. I get myself to work, and do my day’s work, getting myself home and collecting the kids on the way. I talk to the kids, take their coats off, give them a snack, break up some fights, eat something, answer some questions about animal powers, clean up after their snack, confirm my favourite character in tonight’s cartoon of choice and put on a wash. I put the kids to bed and get everything ready for everyone for the next day. And I repeat, over and over again.
When you get your routine going you get caught in the hamster wheel. So you keep doing it and doing that til a day that you don’t have to, a parental leave day, a weekend, a bank holiday. You get it down. You keep going. You don’t think about it anymore. It is what it is. You just do it.
Thinking about how you do it would derail the entire process.
Then, occasionally someone says “I don’t know how you do it” and you realise that you’ve no idea either. No magic formula, no secrets of your success to share.
Because when you take a step back the realisation dawns that you’ve no answer how you do it either. You just do, because, well because that’s what you do.
What else would you do?**
**Win the Lotto