Oh, look! Another parenting article about having it all! Here is the part where I tell you that you can’t have it all — it’s just impossible. Or, I tell you you can have it all — in these ten easy steps. I might even sell you something at the end.
The thing about having it all is that it looks different to everyone. You can have friends, family, work and sleep. You just can’t have them all in a perfect state at all times.
And even if you do, some other mom (probably your own) will stroll along and deem that while you have it all, your kitchen is kind of a mess and aren’t you worried about eating that pizza?
So, therein lies the rub: We just have to stop the cycle of comparison, of measuring and of trying to decide what “all” and “enough” really look like in action.
If you’re anything like me, this ebbs and flows anyway. Some weeks, I am perfectly happy to let the laundry pile up in the name of getting ahead on email. Or to serve up pizza so we can have some more family time. Then, some weeks I am losing my mind over bagel crumbs on the counter and a missing sock.
These three steps help me forget the myth of “having it all.”
Prepare for what is going to happen
I use a paper planner and an email calendar and I meal plan. But that is not what I really mean by prepare. What I mean is, I mentally tell myself that when I decide to let my daughter sign up for soccer, it means that dinner on Monday nights will be a disaster.
Or I tell myself that when I choose to have family night, it may mean my work piles up. If I go to the gym, the laundry may not get folded. There is something about mentally preparing myself for the “consequence” of each choice that really helps. At the same time, I try to acknowledge the benefits–my kid loves soccer and my family needs quality time. The gym makes me a nicer person, if I am honest.
Stop thinking about it so much
This is a real work in progress. When I picked up some extra work this summer, I really worried that my daughter would feel slighted. What she really felt was excited for more pool time with her dad and so my worry was for naught.
Because the reality is, most of the pressure to “have it all” comes from within. If we just make the best choices with what we have, with the aim of a family that is happy and healthy, it usually works out just fine. And the dishes get done eventually.
I try to be more like my husband
Crazy, huh? But really–have you ever seen an article about dads having it all? Men have this really blessed ability to compartmentalize. When he is at work, he is working. When he is on his bike, he is enjoying the scenery. When he is playing with our daughter, he’s trying not to get kicked in the junk.
Being present in the moment helps makes the sacrifices worthwhile. If I push myself to enjoy every moment of Girls’ Night instead of feeling guilty, then it actually serves its purpose of making me feel relaxed and more connected to friends. If I allow myself to dig deep into my work, then I reap the benefits and feelings of success that help offset the daycare grind. There is no use in forcing ourselves in a guilt spiral.
Photo Credit: Jamie Killian