Monday, March 30, 2015

How DO You Do It?!

I get this question all the time. When people realize that I stay home with four kids, two cats and a dog, every single thing I cook is from scratch, I garden, make clothes, and homeschool, they're pretty much in awe. Typically the awe is amazement that I function, horror that I am such a glutton for punishment combined and depriving my children of a normal childhood on top of it all, or admiration that I can get it done. Here's the secret: I don't know how I do it, and usually I don't feel like I'm doing it very well no matter how I amaze people.
   I'm not tooting my own horn. At all. In fact, I'm admitting my constant failure. I make lists
#3 & #4 doing "schoolwork"
But how long will it last?
constantly and have grandiose plans of ideal function and productivity. Every day I will rise at 5am, take the dog out for a quick run around the yard to meet his needs and avoid accidents inside before the kids get up. Then I will go inside, snuggle with said dog and a cup of kombucha while I read the Bible and pray. After my soul is fed, I will exercise and shower, all before the kids get up at 6(their internal clocks are non-negotiable). When my children rise I will greet them with smiles and hugs, and they will spend an hour playing with each other and the puppy while I plan my day. Then I'll make a nutritive-rich breakfast and we'll all eat together, they'll get dressed and take the puppy out so they all get some exercise while I clean up. Once they're back inside we'll start schoolwork, I'll have structured activities to keep the toddler and puppy busy, and incorporate the kindergartner when she's finished her work as well. While they play I will knit and blog while keeping the big kids on-task, and we'll be done with schoolwork by the time I need to start preparing lunch, and they'll go back outside with the puppy to get their wiggles out and work up a real appetite.
If you guessed two minutes, you win a prize
We'll eat another well-prepared, thought-out lunch, clean up, and have quiet activity time until afternoon rest time. During nap time will be when I get to have a blissful hour of sewing time to myself, and I'll work diligently and create beautiful things. After rest time we'll run any errands on the agenda, work in the yard or garden, have a perfectly-created dinner, the kids will do chores then play nicely together after dinner while I do any cleaning or chores left on my list, then we'll have any necessary baths to wash off the dirt of a blissful day lived mostly outside, then reading time with the kids before they're tucked in perfectly on time, the pup goes in his kennel, and I get a little quiet knitting time to myself.
  HAHAHAHAHAHA! There's no way to make that appear like a louder laugh at what a joke the previous paragraph is. I mean, that's legitimately my ideal day. Every day. But it never happens. EVER. Here's reality:
Cooper, our blonde little Aussie
   I wake up whenever the puppy starts yipping to pee, which is usually around 4:45am. I take him outside and stumble around with the flashlight until he manages to find just the right clump of grass to piddle on. We go back inside, I let him go psycho on his toys and play "who can pounce harder" with the cats and hope their ruckus doesn't wake the kids, and I chug as big a jug of water as my stomach can stand because that may be the last time I remember to drink water in a day. After ten minutes I  have to get the dog back outside or he's going to poop in a hiding place somewhere that I'll find later. Back outside, walking around with the flashlight again, hoping he finds just the right clump of grass to doody on sooner than later. Back inside, if I'm lucky I watch TV(whatever's on at 5am) and knit, but the norm is to curl up on the couch with snuggly puppy, and fall back asleep while spooning him like hes my baby, until either he wriggles and gets up(which means I have to wake up because he's a diaperless toddler covered in fur) or the kids come down the stairs and wake me. Then I stumble around while they watch TV while I make some coffee and try to wake up enough to figure out a quick breakfast for them. We eat, I clean, the get dressed and take the dog outside. Well, at least THAT part is kind of on the plan! Eventually we start schoolwork, and the toddler is kept busy either by scribbling in their notebooks or watching Netflix, and the puppy chews on any socks left in his
The first five second of their school day is focused
reach. When my youngest girl finishes her schoolwork, she either joins the Netflix or- if I've REALLY got it together that day- entices her little brother into playing upstairs in the toy room. The two big kids work as long as I am on them to stay focused and constantly checking their progress, which means I accomplish nothing but running from desk to table to dog to play room to make sure no one is dead, no one is endangering their own life with their chosen activity, and eventually the kids get done with schoolwork. Lunch- again, something thrown together unless I was a real over-achiever and put something in the crock pot while I made breakfast. Lunch eaten, now get the dog outside quick before he pees or poops somewhere, and give me a moment of almost-quiet so my brain can figure out what I need to do today while I clean and assess the laundry situation. Errands get run, if I'm lucky, people lay in bed for an hour, if I'm lucky, and I will sit and knit while I watch TV to give my brain a break, or until I fall asleep sitting up and am awakened by the timer going off. Back outside to play and keep the puppy's bladder and bowels in check, pick up the yard if I have the energy, hope that the neighbor boys are in good moods when they get off the bus, otherwise my kids are getting chased with sticks and called 'Poop' over and over, and eventually we come inside so they can wash up and do chores while I make dinner. Eat, clean up, more chores if they're not already done. Play or watch TV, and I watch the clock tick-tock toward an acceptable time to yell, "Alright, everybody upstairs!" Pajamas, brush, floss, nightlights, prayers, kisses, lights off. Then I spend the next hour frantically trying to accomplish everything I didn't do in a day before my
Last night's pajamas(and today's
clothes) = dog-walking
clothes complete with jacket
Yes, I really fell asleep this way,
Flip flops and all.
husband wakes up, or I just say, "Screw it," and sit down to knit and watch TV because my brain just can't focus on productivity. I go to bed well after midnight every night because my husband works nights so the only time I get to spend with him during his work week is the hour he's awake before he leaves, and I'm lucky if I remember to take a quick shower before I collapse into bed more than twice a week.
   That's how I do it! Four, maybe five hours of sleep if I'm lucky, and I just keep going until the day runs out. What I get done gets done. What I don't doesn't. I do what I do because I have no choice- it must be done. I don't begrudge any of it, though. Not one bit. I'll have time to exercise some day. For now I just try to squeeze in kegals, squats, and lunges whenever I think of them, run up and down the stairs on my toes so I feel the burn in my calves, and make myself go as fast as the puppy will go when I take him out, to pretend that's my cardio. I've had people email me and ask for tips on how to 'do it all' like I do. I don't even know how to respond because I don't do it all. I do what has to be done, and the extras that get done are whatever's screaming the loudest when I have a moment. I am blessed beyond my wildest dreams to be able to be home with my kids, to be able to teach them, and to be able to spend with him whatever waking moments my husband has at home. I'm not complaining AT ALL, I'm not boasting in myself, I'm just being real. You're okay, too! WHatever you get done in a day, you did it! Amazing! This is real life. 


  1. Great blog! Some people waste life away waiting for their ship to come in and their dreams to come true instead of living and enjoying THEIR reality on THEIR ship.

  2. What's with the neighbor kids anyway? Not very neighborly or welcoming.

    1. They're little boys(7, 5, and 3) who are never supervised. LOL. I don't think their parents are used to people with kids living behind them. The little boys are really good about listening to ME when I reprimand them for something, It's just a pain when I have to sit there and stalk them while they play instead of just letting them play while I get something done with the kids in my general line of sight.