On doing it all

The other day, I posted a photo on my Instagram. Alongside it, I talked about filling my own cup, in taking time to myself, and doing things that make me feel good. Running, or yoga, early nights, long, hot baths.

Somebody replied asking me ‘How do I do it all?”.

The short answer is I don’t.

Nobody does it all. Instagram only shows us a snapshot of someone’s life, and it’s all too easy for us to look and think about how amazing their life it is. How much that person is doing, how much better than ourselves.

Of course, behind the scenes there is much that we don’t see. But no, I don’t ‘do it all’.

What even is ‘doing it all’?

I am a single Mama of 5. Two in College now, 2 who are electively home educated and always have been, and a toddler. I am self-employed, and have a household to run. I’m also learning to drive and taking some online university courses this year.

That’s a lot of tasks for one person. Asides from the big kids dad, I have no help. The kids live with my 24/7 and visit him each week depending on his/their schedules, sometimes overnight, sometimes not. My eldest never goes, the youngest he’ll occasionally take out {he’s not his father, and Oren is too little {and too attached to my boobs} to leave me for long. So I very, very rarely have any entirely child free time.

Doing it all means finding balance, it means letting things slide, it means lowering standards. My house is never spotless, it’s clean-ish and tidy-ish, and that’s good enough for me. Housework is done minimally.

I fit in work around the kids, often working at nap time or when they’re all in bed. I squeeze a run in a few mornings, early before my eldest goes to college so she can watch the toddler. I run because it clears my head, makes me feel good, and sets me up for a good day. Days I don’t run, I hop on my yoga mat – usually with a toddler crawling all over me or joining in.

I rarely have an evening to myself, if I do it is usually spent working or studying. I don’t have much of a social life, outside of the kids and home ed groups. Thankfully, my friends are the kids friends’ parents – so playdates for them mean a catch up with friends for me.

My life is hectic. The day I posted that photo? I ended up stressed and in tears in the afternoon because I was trying to do too much. I forget I am one person, that I am doing so many jobs and all with a toddler alongside me.

I don’t do it all. My to-do list is a mile long, of things that have been waiting forever to get done. I just fitted locks onto some cupboards in my office – that have been waiting 5 years to be done. 5 years.

I’ve accepted that I am just doing the best I can. That means somedays nothing gets done – except I’ve been with the kids and loved them. They are more important than a clean, tidy house or a ticked off to-do list.

Some days it’s beans on toast for dinner, because I am too tired to cook a proper meal.

The kids all kick in and help with household chores because I literally cannot do it all alone.

I’ve outsourced much of our homeschooling this year, online classes, and bought curriculums so I don’t have to do the thinking and planning.

I don’t ever want people looking at my Instagram and thinking I am some kind of superwoman because I am a single mum of 5, who home educates and is self-employed. I do it because I have to. There is no one else to pick up my slack.

Most of my friends who have a similar-sized family don’t work AND have partners. I have to remind myself not to compare because my situation is not like theirs. I’m doing a damn fine job all on my own – it is hard, but the rewards are amazing.

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