I woke up an hour before the children, put on a pot of coffee and spent a precious moment with Jesus. I folded the laundry that I ran the night before, and had just enough time to put it away before I heard the pitter-patter of little feet. We had a grand ole’ morning complete with Pinterest-inspired activities and meaningful engagement. My children were smiling and laughing and singing my praises. They shared their toys and compromised over the next TV show selection as if they were royal princes. I found a moment to go for a run around the block while they played peacefully in our neighborhood park. Then I came home to upload a perfectly written blog post that seemed to go viral within minutes. I was killing it, my friends. Not wanting to disappoint the hubs, I prepped and cooked dinner so that it was warmly delivered to the table as he crossed the threshold into our spotlessly clean home. The kids went to bed without a fuss and the husband and I spent some meaningful and intimate time alone. This whole mothering things is a piece of cake, I thought.
And that’s when I woke up from my dream.
Last week I was catching up with a friend I hadn’t spoken to in awhile. We carried on about some trivial details and then, being the sweet friend that she is, she asked me about “my book”. I say “my book” because being asked about “my book” often feels like I’m being asked about a recent illness I was diagnosed with. What do I say here? “Oh the book, it’s getting better. I mean some days are better than others, but I think in the long run it’s going to be ok.” But instead, I muttered something even more awkward because it’s weird to talk about your rare illnesses.
Rather than nodding her head in awkward agreement, this sweet friend fired back with the most uncomfortable words to land on my ears, “I just don’t know how you do it all, McKinley – parenting, housework AND writing a book! You are amazing.” I looked back at her with my tired eyes and unwashed face that reeked of total confusion. “Do you even know me?” I asked her.
So before this myth can perpetuate itself any longer, let me clear up some misconceptions. Would you like to know how I manage to “do it all”? The answer is simple: I do all of it in different seasons.
Let me explain.
Last year, I read an article that highlighted a theory called the Entrepreneur’s Dilemma. The idea was simple, every person has the same amount of time to prioritize different areas of your life and you can successfully choose no more than three of those areas at any one time. While the Entrepreneur’s Dilemma only highlights 5 areas of daily life, McKinley’s Motherhood Dilemma has six. Here are the six priorities you can choose from, mama:
So there you have it, friend, six areas of any mama’s life. McKinley’s Motherhood Dilemma argues that you will only be able to manage THREE of those things well during any one season. Do you want to know how much freedom I have felt by owning this theory? THE MOST AMOUNT OF FREEDOM. There is freedom in letting go of perfection, AMIRIGHT?
The beauty of this theory is that every season, every week, every day, the priorities can change. But either way, you can loosen the grip knowing that there isn’t enough time to manage all six areas well.
Just to assure you that I am not a superhuman, here is how a few of my seasons have played out:
January 2015-April 2015:
May 2015-December 2015:
December 2015-July 2016:
July 2016-December 2016:
Maybe you’re a phenom, and can keep 4 or 5 of those tasks on lock every single day. Kudos and gold stars to you, my friend, please advise us on your time-management techniques. But for the rest of you who feel like you’re not doing enough or feel that other women are doing it all, while you’re trudging through the trenches - don’t believe the lie. No one is doing it all at once—they are just doing it all in different seasons.
That workout mom on Facebook who produces a new video every day in her spotlessly clean house? I bet she’s not spending as much time with her girlfriends and she’s not getting much sleep.
That friend who posts her Pinterest activities with her kiddos everyday? She probably isn’t working much outside of the home or volunteering or enjoying as much time with friends.
Or how about the mom who is planning all of your playgroups and organizing your MOPS meetings? Her house could probably use a good clean and she might be getting take out for dinner.
You want to know what I would say to each of those moms? Well-freakin-done, my friend! You are nailing it!
We can run our own race here, gentle readers, and we can cheer one another on without an ounce of judgment or resentment. You do you, and I’m gonna do me. But you know what neither of us is doing? Not one of us is doing it all. And that, my friends, is the sweet reminder I needed today and just maybe it’s the reminder you needed too.
I'd love to hear form you! What three things are you prioritizing these days?!
I am a lover of people, a child of God, and a laugher at jokes. I write words, cry tears and smile at strangers.