How I “Do It All”

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I guess I only see what is on your blog but sometimes I get a bit discouraged thinking how can you do all that when I am attempting to do things and not fulfilling what I think I should be doing, most of the time? I do a lot, when I think about it, but I never feel its enough (maybe that is the problem), I have a routine, I try to balance out what I do each day, making sure I try to serve us all good food at good prices, have fun, learn, grow, do the chores, grow in the Lord, etc…there are SO many things to do each day and here I am with two kids and I can’t seem to figure out how to balance it any better than I am. I guess the basic question is what things do you do in your day to help you get so much done and not feel overwhelmed? I know you’ve posted on routines, which I have worked on and do, and the organizing system (which I hope to work on later from another system I started on), I’ve read the book “shopping for time” and am working on that, and baby steps, etc…but do you ever feel worn out? Do you ever wonder how you are supposed to keep adding more (things to do, family to raise, people to care about, posts to write, etc etc) when you are already pressed for time and energy? That is the way I feel…

This was from an email that I received a few weeks ago from a dear reader who I have come to know a bit through our emails. I struggled to edit what she said down to this much, but I think it gives you the gist of her question.

So many thoughts come to mind, but I’ll try to keep it coherent:

1) First of all, blogging can be so artificial, in what it shows us of somebody’s life.

Sometimes I scan over the posts from a week or two of blogging and think “Gosh, my life looks more impressive than it is!”. You only have the privilege of seeing the topics that I managed to write on that week: perhaps my Quiet Time bins, some yummy recipes, my grocery budget breakdown, a garden update and some things the Lord has been teaching me.

What you don’t see is that the Quiet Time bins took me 6 weeks to complete after I purchased the bins, that I undercooked my pumpkin bread last week, that I went over budget on groceries this month, that I have barely been out to my garden this last little while and it’s getting a bit weedy, that I didn’t manage to have time with the Lord today, that I was really tired and somewhat snappy with my kids this morning, and that my house desperately needs to be vacuumed and I’m behind on laundry.

The bottom line: I am a real person. I mess things up daily. I do NOT have it all together. I am the biggest sinner I know, and utterly dependent on the grace and mercy of God. I can be grumpy and selfish with my husband and kids. Not every meal I make turns out well. I don’t always balance my time efficiently or effectively or wisely. I have lazy days where I struggle with motivation. I sometimes have to run around to make my house presentable for guests. I sleep in some days when I should have gotten up earlier. I don’t always make time in the Word and in prayer the priority that I should. Some days I would prefer to just avoid the kitchen. Sometimes I don’t feel like blogging (gasp!).

2) We can only do as much as we can do, with what God has given us, through His grace.

I am definitely still working on learning this lesson. I, too, can look around at other women and think that I ought to be doing this or that, or read other blogs or books and feel that I am somehow missing the mark of all that a godly wife, mother and homemaker should be accomplishing.

What I need to continually remind myself of is that I am not those women. I am me. In the circumstances that God has placed me in, with the talents and gifts He has given me, with the struggles and weaknesses He has allowed for my sanctification.

One of the best things that I got out of the book Shopping for Time
, which I’ve mentioned before, is that I can’t do it all, and I am not supposed to. What I can do is conscientiously seek God on my time and priorities and schedule, asking what He would have for me in each new season of life. As He leads me to focus on particular priorities, relationships, and tasks, I have to learn to give up my need to “do it all” and be content in doing what He has actually asked of me. It’s so easy to place expectations on myself that He doesn’t burden me with, but not only is that unwise, it’s also unfruitful.

3) Do I ever feel worn out? Yes. Do I get overwhelmed sometimes? Of course. Do I sometimes wonder how I can add new things to my plate as our family grows, life gets busier, I learn more about health and nutrition, etc? Absolutely!

I have a tendency to want to do it all. I add things faster to my own schedule than anyone else ever could. I often have to force myself to sit back and really evaluate all that I am doing, and whether it’s wise and even feasible.

One thing that has helped is learning to streamline things over the years, and just becoming more comfortable in my roles and duties. I continue to try new scheduling methods, cleaning routines and techniques, implementing systems of organization, and trying to declutter more. I’ve learned to keep things like breakfast and lunch simple, to bathe my kids only a couple times a week, to find ways to multitask better, to use recipes with less ingredients and hands on time, and all of these things help me to accomplish more without going crazy.

I’ve also given things up. I don’t do scrapbooking or cardmaking anymore. I very rarely read fiction. I’ve worked to cut my grocery shopping trips down to every second week. I spend much less time on the phone than I used to and make use of my call display. We don’t watch tv, and keep the movies to a minimum. My kids aren’t in a bunch of activities, and we don’t do very many playdates or get togethers with friends during the week. My husband and I often use our free evenings to sit at our respective computers and do business stuff (though we still make time for fun and just being together). We work to maintain and nurture the relationships in our life that seem to be the highest priority in a given season, and try not to spread ourselves too thin.

4) I constantly have to try to remind myself of what really matters.

Is it that my house was spotless or that I played with my kids? Is it that our children were academically advanced or that we spent time instilling godly character, discipline and teaching them the Word of God? Is it that every meal I make is balanced nutritionally, completely organic and perfectly prepared or that I have sought to be a good steward with what I have been given, and that my motivations are to glorify God and to love and serve my family?

I can easily forget these things, but they’re true! So often, the things that I burden myself with are not ultimately important. Sometimes I get lost in the peripherals, and I need to take a step back and re-evaluate.

I hope this somewhat rambling post gives a little more insight into who I am, and how my days and weeks really play out in the real world, not just the blogosphere. I so desire to present myself as a regular woman, with struggles and challenges, who is just doing her best and sharing the journey with you!

I would love to hear from the rest of you, and how you deal with feeling overwhelmed, with the expectations you have for yourself, and on maintaining balance and focus! Do you relate to these questions and issues?

Images by Hamed

About Stephanie Langford

Stephanie Langford has a passion for sharing ideas and information for homemakers who want to make healthy changes in their homes, and carefully steward all that they've been given. She has written three books geared to helping families live more naturally and eat real, whole foods, without being overwhelmed, without going broke and with simple meal planning. She is the creator of Keeper of the Home.

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Comments

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this Stephanie. Much need support beautifully delivered. God bless!

  2. Thanks for sharing much needed affirmation. I am a mother of 2 -now 15 and 11-abandoned by husband/father long ago. I have always homeschooled , try to be healthy even without land on small budget. Working nights currently, to be away as little of my kids waking hours as possible….leaves me feeling like a zombie in slow motion during the day(I sleep 3 nights a
    week)…anyway thanks for the encouragement:)

  3. This was lovely to read, because it’s so true.

    In my group of friends, we all have different things we prioritise. I’m into gardening, crafts and making real food. Another is more entrepreneurial and into organising activities for her kids and others in the neighbourhood, which means she buys ready-made meals so she’s got the time for everything else. Another is heavily into fitness and exercise – making time to go to the gym or for runs several times a week.

    We can’t all do everything, and that’s OK – God made us to fulfil different roles in the body.

  4. I realize this was posted over a year ago but it was just what I needed today. Being a new mom and a young mom, I often feel incredibly behind so many women who seem to be able to ‘do it all’ when I feel I cannot. Thanks for reminding me to be real and to focus on where I’m at (not everyone else) and grow from there!

  5. I really needed to hear this today. I realize that you did not write this today, but this is the day I found this post. Thank you so much for sharing. I don’t know why it helps knowing that other women that you admire struggle too, but sometimes it just does. Thank you.
    .-= Natural Mom´s last blog ..Breakfast Casserole =-.

  6. As a wife of 26 years and a mother of 24, I can say that you are right on target here! What a great encouragement you are to these young women. As I’ve gone through each season of my life, I find that I have more opportunity to develop different skills at different times. When my 4 daughters were babies, I would never have had the time to bake all our bread, make all meals from scratch, or do as much sewing as I do now. When they were all at home and we were homeschooling, I didn’t have much time for anything besides homeschooling and keeping the house reasonably clean-at least, not if I wanted to enjoy time with my husband and my children. These days, I find I tire a little more easily than I did 20 years ago and I just can’t do everything I want. It’s important to be kind to ourselves in that we give ourselves a break and don’t expect perfection from ourselves or anyone else because it’s not going to happen, even in the blogsophere.

  7. Hey Stephanie,
    Thanks for this post, I scanned it a few days ago and now have sat down and really read it. I often wonder how you do it all and why can’t I. But you wrote some important facts here and I need to remember who comes first, kids or a clean house. I often have to remind myself that a 1/2 hour cuddle with my son is much more important than a clean kitchen at that point in time. Right now after baby #2 I’m having trouble with PPdepresion and so it makes everything ten times worse. But your post is reminding me to seek what God has for me and my family and do not let the outside world pressure me.
    Thanks!
    Tara V
    PS if you have any thoughts or advice on PPdepresion I’d love to hear them!

  8. SO true. In my own blogging, I once felt convicted in how I displayed myself after reading a friend’s post, and I wrote of a moment “not in the scrapbook.” I think that we all too often try to keep our appearance clean, for good reason, but often at the expense of what God truly has to show through our weaknesses. T.hanks for sharing

    http://thevfiles.wordpress.com/2009/04/10/not-in-the-scrapbook/

  9. I used to feel that way when I wandered through blogland. It seemed like everyone was holding it together better than I was. Then I started my own blog and realized how easy it is to give the impression of perfection when you are focusing on the positives in your life.

    Jennifer C, my oldest two kiddos were 15 months apart and when I was in the two under two stage I felt blessed to have made it through the day with my sanity intact. And I wasn’t pregnant! :) Take heart. It gets much much easier.

  10. It’s great that you said this. I’m sure many of us needed to hear it.

  11. Jennifer C. says:

    Thanks again for a great post! I REALLY needed to hear this. It’s so easy for me to compare myself to other women (and mothers especially). I figured you had to be a real person (and imperfect) :) But, thanks for sharing with us so honestly! I actually found myself thinking one day “wow, she’s also pregnant with her 3rd child, and only a week behind me and look at all that she gets done.” But, then I realized that no 2 woman are in the same boat. Both of my 2 children are under 2 years of age and the tasks and activities that we do are just different. For instance, my husband leads a small group in our church, so that means that a lot of my church responsibilities revolve around that…impromptu calls from a woman in the care group, e-mails to catch up on, cleaning and preparing for small group on wed. nights, etc.
    I have learned this pregnancy that part of the way God is providing for me is through other people (and letting them help!!). I’ve had a girl in our church come over about 2-3x a month to help clean and watch the kids so I can rest. Ok, I’ll end this long post now… :)

  12. sweet post. :)

  13. The fact that I don’t often have it all together is what I blog about often – my struggles. But this was a nice post to see from you. I recently had a friend ask me a similar question, and my response was that I try to always ask God to show me what is most important in how I spend my time, but I still fail and even fail in the trying to remember to ask Him to prioritize my time and activities. Motherhood is both the most rewarding and most difficult experience I’ve ever attempted. Thanks for sharing.

  14. I can SO relate to this! I feel like I never catch up, yet I have others who look at me as Supermom for what I do get done! Crazy. I think we’re all super at something, and just need to pick the priorities that are important to us, as well as work with our strengths. I think sometimes the moms with more children seem to get more done–because they HAVE to get more done, have to be more efficient, etc. Plus they have older children to help out a bit more and that don’t need so much help with daily things like getting ready and going to the bathroom. :) After baby #4 arrived, I had to literally remind myself that it was okay if the only things accomplished by the end of the day were everyone being changed and fed. :) It’s a tough job, this motherhood thing, and the rules are always changing, we learn new things, our children change, it’s a work in progress. And I definitely agree, God’s grace and mercy play a huge part of all this.

  15. THANK YOU! I think as women we get caught up in the “could-a, would-a, should-a” blues and judge ourselves too harshly and think that we should be perfect at everything, everyday, all the time…how exhausting just thinking about it? I am not a great cook, I can’t scrapbook or sew well and I hate being outside in the wintertime snow…but I read stories with great different voices and make sure I hug, kiss, smile and really look and listen to my kids each day and make sure I thank my husband for something everyday. We can’t do it all…perfection is a goal to strive for and that is what this is for…working on it…not getting it always. Sometimes when I get the “life isn’t fair” syndrome my hubby reminds me it’s not supposed to be…otherwise the horse would get to ride us half of the time! If we slow down and listen to the quiet voice of the Lord, love our families, neighbors and friends, and take time to really pay attention to our kids and love them and enjoy them…the rest is just bonus points! So if your laundry is dirty…it will get done. And if you didn’t stay on budget or clean that messy closet today…it’s okay! You probably were busy kissing a boo-boo, listening to a friend’s heartache, doing thousands of little actions that show your family you care and that they matter…and love is the greatest thing to learn and work on!

  16. What a wonderful post. I often feel this way, as I think it is more of a female perstonality trait, not just mothers or wives. I have a mom’s group that I am a part of; we are all great friends and sometimes they think I am like that, too! I am the first one to tell them “are you kidding? I lost MY temper today at my 2 year old, even threw a bit of a tantrum myself!” (*very true:)*)
    I think #3  are so important to remember, especially with small children (I have 2 under 2 years old right now).

    Things that have GREATLY helped me are no TV–we don’t have any channels, it is only for watching movies, maybe 2 times a week.

    Sharing a car with my husband. Because we only have 1 car, he uses it 4 out of the 5 days a week. The 4 days I am at home I have to creatively think about HOW we will go ut (bike trailor or walk?) or if we stay home and work around teh house, which is most likely. It does force me to get the housework done during the day so during teh evening we can be a true carefree family: picnics, bikerides, whatever.

    When I get overwhelmed by “groups” that I belong to (whether volunteering at church, or going to a book club, whatever) I have had to learn to be honest and say “No” when I need to. It is hard, and a lot of people don’t like to hear it, but we don’t do something out of love it is in vain and insincere. I constantly need help saying no, but I know when I DO have teh courage to say it every once in awhile, I am better off for it in this season of my life!
    Excellent post, we all need these reminders every day to pursue a God-honoring attitude!!! Thank you!
    Sarah M

  17. thank you, thank you….

    You write so beautifully and God used your words to say exactly what I needed to hear. I appreciate SO much that you took the time to write this. I am going to print it out and put it with my Bible so that I can re-read it.

    Thank you for the encouragement.

  18. Oh, what true words! There has never been and never will be a real “superwoman”. As an older woman (at least older than Stephanie!), I have experienced enough in life to know that this is true – perhaps it should have been included in Ecclesiastes or Proverbs 31! Just kidding. God probably intended the Titus 2 woman to communicate this as she mentored the younger woman. Any how, I think you summed it up well when you basically said “to do A, I have to give up B”. There are only 24 hours in any given day. The thing that has helped me most is to remember that I CAN get done today exactly what THE LORD WANTS me to do if I will listen and obey Him.

  19. I loved this post. It was wonderfully honest. I too am new to your blog and am trying desperately to make my own pattern for Godly womanhood/motherhood, balancing that with the constant needs of a special needs child. It’s tough. But your post reminded me of something that the Lord has been teaching me lately–I am not going to get it all done every day, and that’s OK. His grace takes care of the rest of it.

  20. Amen, Amen, Amen! I have only just begun following your blog, and i have to say that what you shared today was the best post ive ever read on any blog! I needed those words so much today… and everyday! It honestly brought tears to my eyes. Thank you.
    Amy

  21. Thanks for the reality check Stephanie! I agree with Paula, too. Usually I get down on myself when I’m already spreading myself too thin! I spoke with a dear friend yesterday and she put a few things in perspective… Set reasonable goals. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, pick a few “easy” goals, accomplish those, and pat yourself on the back. You’ll never accomplish it all. Is your husband happy with your performance in the home? If he is, rejoice! And go easier on yourself. Take half an hour every day before your husband gets home to recharge and refresh. Your priority is to serve him, so make sure you’re at your best to do it. Now I just need to take my own advice… :-)

  22. Wonderful post! I have been feeling discouraged lately as I see so many in blog-dom that seem to be managing their time so effectively, organized, blah, blah, blah…etc. I only have 2 children and I read about women with 5 or more children and they are eons past where I am or hoped to be. I struggle with organization and really want to be organized. I am just now back into decluttering and getting ready for homeschool. My DH and myself are both students and he works 2 jobs so I guess I should cut myself some slack. I just hate the feeling that when I go to bed every night, I feel I could have done more, been more.

    Thanks again for this post. I know the Word of God will direct me and speak the truth…I have been telling myself lies.

    Blessings!

  23. I am so glad you posted this! I have done several posts about the fact that blogs are not all accurate in what it displays. No one has the perfect life, perfect family and it discouraging to read about how wonderful everyone’s families are, how their husbands are always great, they never eat out or buy bad food. That is why I keep it real on my blog. I made some healthy baked goods last week. I told my readers this turned out and here is the recipe but these didn’t so I think I will work on it some more before I give you the recipes. We all make mistakes, we all have good and bad days and we all do not give to the Lord the way we want to each day. We are all a work in progress and if we keep this in mind then maybe we won’t try to overwhelm ourselves so much.

    I would say to your reader that emailed you to give herself a break. Keep doing the things that are working in your life and pick a few small things to work on that don’t always work so well in your family. If you are worried about the time and effort you are already giving to your family chances are you are already giving ten fold because most people who are not doing those things, who don’t make time are not concerned about what they aren’t doing. Pray on it and make peace with yourself.

  24. I just answered a similar email on my blog (which will post tomorrow, on Friday). You summed up a lot of the issues well.

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