“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
I love honesty. No magic, just choices about how you prioritise everything in your day to day life. Your choices are very similiar to mine. Maybe some day things will get mixed around due to redundancy, Lotto wins, marrying rich (second time around anyon?) and then that becomes the new routine, with maybe some different choices (I’m thinking champagne not frittata for breakfast).
I also like your snow!
Thanks Helen, I’m all about honesty too. I still think you “do” a lot more than me, in terms of your cooking and crafting 🙂 We get one go around, might as well do what we want. Nobody ever says “I wish I’d done more housework”.
I don’t know how you do it!
But seriously, I did the same myself for many years, and you’re right, you get on the hamster wheel and you just keep going.
You are fabulous though. It’s tough going keeping it all together. You do deserve the kudos.
Great post! It’s all down to priorities… Hence the appalling state of my house. Even if you were at home, you probably still wouldn’t choose to tidy and clean if you were anything like me… Waste of time!!!!
Thanks Emily. Yes, I have always de-prioritised those types of jobs, unless there are visitors on the way eek! then I’m like a whirling dervish trying to get it all done before they arrive
Great post. Whatever their circumstances, most folk are just getting on with it. And it’s refreshing to hear the input from a Dad being given its rightful mention!
Thanks! Dads are very important here too, the place falls apart when Dad is away here, he’s a vital cog in the machine.
You are so right…we choose to have children (or have surprises) and we can’t (and don’t want to) send them back so we do whatever it takes to keep them well fed, warm and safe…until they are able to provide for themselves…and then we can slow down a bit….
That’s the way I see it Ruth. We do it without thinking.
Hey! You said you’d tell us how you do it! You will write that post too, won’t you? 🙂
No, that’s called clickbait. All i said was thst the post was about the secret. The thing it was about the secret is that I don’t have one. Trust me, I’m a lawyer ;
I felt exactly the same when people kept telling me I was ‘so strong’ when my daughter was born (complications, lots of them, but thankfully fine now). I’m not strong, I’m just doing what I have to do. What other option is there?
That’s it Yvonne, you do what you have to, sometimes on autopilot
Fab post, I am returning to work in a few weeks following maternity leave, also taking parental one day and will be working 4! Not sure how I will “do it” but like you I know I will as it just has to be done! Thoroughly enjoyed reading ur post x
Thanks Gráinne and good luck. 4 days is definitely better than 5!
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The same gets said to me, and I would give a very similar answer! Adore that family photo btw x