I recently received an email from a blog reader over in Scotland (can I visit you, please!!) asking how I do it all. She said, “I’d just like to know how you do it! You work, write, blog, you learn, you reach out, you pick wild herbs, bake, cook, homeschool, and much, much more. I simply cannot go to the toilet in peace, never mind sit down and do any research… and that’s with one child at school and a second in nursery school! (I have a 2-year-old with me all the time!) I’ve not read your posts properly for months – due to my wee ones and generally a lot of chores to do. Do your little ones happily give you space to work after schooling, or do you have someone to look after them? ”
Seeing how this isn’t the first time I’ve been asked this sort of thing, I figured it would be an excellent time to attempt to address this common question.
Now before I get around to telling you how I make things work for me, I want you to know two significant things.
- First, I don’t do it all. I have help. If I had to do it all, I would certainly not get as much done.
- And secondly, the way I do things doesn’t mean that’s the right way to do it. It just means that this is what works for me. At any point in the future, things could change. In fact, they probably will as life rarely stays the same.
So let me be a bit more transparent with you (which something I always try to do).
My Ideal Life
I, like most folks, have a lot going on in my life, and often, life is challenging to keep up with it all. I regularly feel like I’m missing the mark or failing in some way. A couple years ago, I came across the idea of creating a big picture of what I wanted my life to look like. I took that advice seriously and decided that I wanted the following things.
- I want a clean house that’s decorated nicely. I want our home to be a haven… a place that we want to spend time at with each other. I want to be able to open our home up to friends and family and have them feel welcome, too.
- I want to educate my children in a non-conventional manner ― exposing them to a lot of different subjects and ideas while they’re young and letting them hone in on what they want to learn more about as they get older.
- I want to live a healthy lifestyle, one complete with real foods, daily forms of exercise, proper sleep, minimal toxins, and using alternative therapies over modern ones as much as possible.
- I want to travel as much as possible with my whole family ― here in the United States and beyond in other countries. I want to experience different people and places, learn from them, and take a little piece of them back with me to the mountains of Tennessee.
- I want to invest in others in some way, shape, or form whether that’s meeting a financial need they have, spending time with them, sharing what I know or what I’ve learned in life, or simply praying for them and speaking blessings on them.
Once I had my ideal picture in mind, I had to plan out what I needed to do to make these things happen. I needed to make small, achievable goals that would get me where I wanted to be, and then I had to meet these goals, one after the other, which is the hard part. Sometimes I do well in meeting my goals, and other times I’m lazy and don’t. I’ve learned to go with the flow ― that my motivation will wax and wane, and if it’s not there one day to be gentle with myself as it will likely be back the next. I’ve also learned that if one thing doesn’t work, it’s time to re-evaluate and try something else.
Okay, so back to the daily grind of making this ideal lifestyle happen and doing “all the things.”
There are four things I’ve learned over the years that have helped me seem like I do “all the things.” Here they are.
1. It’s Okay To Say No
The first thing I’ve learned to do over the years is to be okay with saying no. I simply can’t do everything. There are so many opportunities that come our way on a weekly basis, if I said yes to all of them, I’d be living for others instead of living for myself or my family. Now, I know that may sound a bit selfish, and I don’t mean for it to be. It’s just that I’ve seen people do this to the point of wearing themselves down. I love that saying, “You can’t pour from an empty cup,” because it’s so true. If I want to be the best wife, mom, employer/employee, fill-in-the-blank, I can be, I have to have room to breathe, and that means I have to say no more than I say yes.
2. Simplify, Simplify, Simplify
The second thing I’ve learned is to simplify life as much as possible. I still struggle with this from time to time, but it’s getting easier the more I do it. When it comes to meal planning, exercise routines, homeschool work, the kid’s schedules, all of it. I don’t have to cook 5-course meals every night. Instead, I shoot for meals that are ready in 30 minutes or less. I don’t have to leave my house to go to the gym and put in a one-hour workout every day. Instead, I stay home and get in a 30-45 minute video workout as many days as possible. I don’t have to have my kids involved in every sport under the sun. Instead, I decide what to involve them in based on their preferences, our current schedule, and what will benefit them later in life. Simplify.
3. Delegate Those Responsibilities
The third thing I’ve learned to do over the years is to delegate tasks to other capable people. At home, my husband has certain responsibilities, and when he’s super busy, he sometimes hires someone to help him. Same goes for me. As much as I’d like to be superwoman and do everything myself. I’m not. I can’t be. So I look for people (or things) to help me in these areas I need help in. My kids also have responsibilities at home in the form of chores. They have daily chores and weekly chores which change according to the season and their abilities. Whatever they don’t get done during the week, they do on Saturdays. And yes, if you’re wondering, we do give them rewards for completing their chores, usually in the form of money or going out somewhere fun.
4. Create A Routine That Works For You
The last thing I’ve learned over the years is that routines are a must for us, but we must also be able to break them when needed. Routines simply work for us, and most days, they feel like my saving grace. They keep us on track by helping us make the best use of our time each day. However, there are times when our routine simply won’t work and we need to break away from it. Thankfully, it doesn’t happen often, but it is to be expected from time to time.
When making our routines, I think about my priorities each day. There’s teaching the boys, there’s my Herbal Academy work, there are meals to make, there are outside-the-home activities to go to, and there’s me-time (yes, that’s a priority for me). Once I have my priorities laid out, I plug them into my day. While our daily routine is ever evolving, it rarely changes too much.
Below is a walk-through of a typical day for us.
- I start my day with some me-time (coffee, breakfast, devotion, and journaling).
- Once the kids are up and have eaten breakfast, we start school. We do all our group work together first, and then we split up ― the older boys doing independent work (following a list) while I work one-on-one with the younger boys.
- Once the younger boys have finished, they go off to play together, and I do my workout.
- When that’s over, I make lunch and we eat.
- After lunch, the bigger boys continue their school work while the younger boys play, and I settle into my online work. That continues until dad gets home. At that point, all schoolwork and my works should be finished for the day.
- At this point, things vary depending on whether or not we have an activity to go to. Sometimes Dean takes the boys so I can stay home, sometimes I take the boys so he can stay home, and sometimes we all go. It depends.
- Dinner often happens somewhere in this space of time, mostly at home, but sometimes we go out to eat for a treat.
- At some point we end up back at home, the boys get ready for bed, and Dean and I have time just for the two of us. Once we put them to bed, they know they are to stay there (except to go to the bathroom or get a drink) because it’s mom-dad time. I can’t tell you how important this time has been to our relationship, especially the older the boys get and the more attention and time they need from us throughout the day. For my sanity’s sake, I need adult time and time to relax without my kids every day. Some moms aren’t that way. I am.
Okay, so the takeaway from all this is that we all have different goals in life. Once you know what you want your life to look like, you can prioritize your goals into a schedule that works for you, and this will help you accomplish more throughout the day. At least, that’s my experience, anyway.