Learn one mother's secret

How I Do It

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Categories Ask the Moms, Attitude, Balance, Co-parenting, Household and Family Management, How Do The Moms Do It, Lists, Mommy Issues, Organization, Other people, Parenting Twins, Perspective, Relationships, Unique needs

A couple of days ago, Mercedes asked us, “Seriously, how do you do it?” This is my answer.

(This is a revised version of a post I originally wrote when my now 6-year-olds were toddlers.)

I don’t think parents of multiples or military families or single parents or working moms are unique in needing to answer this question repeatedly. I suspect all parents get it, because seriously, parenting is a hard hard job. It’s physically, emotionally and creatively demanding, and, although its rewards are incomparable, there are days it’s a thankless slog.

So, how do I do it?

My 2-second answer to the question is, “I do the best I can.”

My 20-second answer is, “I prioritize, and I lower my standards. I figure out what really matters and what’s necessary. Then, I let everything else slide. The kids and my job need a level of attention that cannot be compromised. I have to care for myself enough so that I am mentally and physically healthy enough to manage those things. Everything else has to fit in around those top priorities.”

Here’s the long answer:

My priorities are clear. In order, they are:

  1. The kids’ immediate well-being
  2. The kids’ long-term well-being. Are they on a path to being healthy, happy, wholesome, productive adults?
  3. My job and my immediate co-workers and customers
  4. The kids’ relationships with their family members who don’t live with us, including their father, stepmother and stepsisters
  5. A healthy diet for the family
  6. My mental and physical health (including getting sleep)
  7. Friends and remaining family
  8. Community participation
  9. Housekeeping and home maintenance

I look at the balance of my life in two-week chunks. I might not get to cleaning, talking to relatives, exercise, or even reading with the girls, every single day. I may go a week without making a meaningful contribution to my community. Within each 14 day period, though, each of the areas I value should have had some attention, in proportion to their place on the priority list.

How do I fit this blog into my life? Well, blogging helps me work through the most challenging questions of the day, reminds me that the kids are the primary reason I even try to achieve balance, and keeps me connected with the amazingly supportive and smart community of parent bloggers. Priorities 1, 2, 6 and 8 addressed in one fell swoop. Again, the 14-day balance helps me stay on top of things. I don’t write nearly as regularly as I publish. Some days, I’ll have three things to talk about, and I’ll publish the extra drafts on days when there’s a gap and I don’t have the time, energy or creativity to come up with a timely post.

Here’s the big secret. I don’t do it all. On a given day, I either don’t sleep enough, don’t clean enough, feed the kids junk like mac and cheese and hot dogs, don’t shower, or don’t take any time to sit and breathe.

So, how do I do it? I don’t.

Sadia is a recently divorced mother of 6-year-old twin girls, M and J, having spent 8 years as an army wife. They live with three cats in the Austin, TX area, where J and M attend Spanish-English dual language public school and Sadia works at a large university in information technology.

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Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 10-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. They live in the Austin, TX suburbs, where Sadia works full time in information technology. She contributes to a number of parenting websites and magazines and also runs The Mommy Blogging Guide, where she answers mommy bloggers' technical questions.

25 thoughts on “How I Do It”

  1. I think having a concrete list like this is so helpful. And even more helpful is the tip to look at things in two week chunks. I find I get so overwhelmed if I try to look too far into the future! You are so right about balance! If I get dressed one day, maybe I don’t make lunch or if I shower then I can’t catch up on any blogs or reading.

  2. This is such a great post! I love your 20 second answer, but the whole philosophy of the post is fantastic. Looking at contributions as a whole, in 2 week chunks, is a really great way of doing things. I had my second baby when my eldest was 14 months old, and I still struggle with how much I had to lower my standards. I still don’t like how often the tv is on, and how I don’t have the time to be constantly doing craft activities, and all the other things I told myself I’d be doing on a daily basis. This is a refreshing way of helping people feel better about what they can achieve!
    This Mum’s Life recently posted Generic Baby Sleep Manual: A ReviewMy Profile

  3. This is a great post. I have 2.5 years between my 2 and there were times when my husband went back to work that I really didn’t have a clue how to get through each day! But somehow we did in 1 piece!
    I take my hat off to you managing so well with twins. We all find our own ways through don’t we…
    Vix x
    Vix another mum in london recently posted Babywearing – Carry them CloseMy Profile

    1. I’d love to hear your approach! I think that stay at home dads still have to contend with dismissive attitudes and it’s so important for fathers like you to remind us to examine our prejudices.

  4. Aaah I LOVE this post!!!! LOVE IT. Because actually, you’ve dispelled a bit of a myth and been honest.

    I think — and this is especially true of certain ‘social media’ platforms. There’s a trend to give the illusion that we live in a perfect Pinterest house, with Instagrammable food, kids, life in general. And it’s all smoke and mirrors isn’t it?

    Whilst we may manage to keep on top of it all *most* of the time, it’s nice to admit that we’re only human and it’s not always that way! Thanks for being a great co-host #TwinklyTuesday
    Caro | The Twinkle Diaries recently posted Home Etc #26My Profile

  5. I love your 14 day window – that’s a fabulous idea. I think I might have to start doing that immediately! Gosh what a lovely way to prioritise and make sure you do the things that count. Glad to see the cleaning at the bottom, where it should be! I can only aspire. Nicky #twinklytuesday
    Nicky Kentisbeer recently posted Poppies For Our ChildrenMy Profile

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