During "flu week" at our house I was able to catch Maria Shriver's "Doing It All" series for women on the Today Show. I'm sure the premise of the series was well-meaning but I believe that the title itself perpetuates long-standing, unrealistic expectations for women.
I can't speak for anyone else but I know that I CAN'T do it all. As hard as I may try, I will never be able to do everything. Believe me, I've tried and every time I end up with the same results--failure and disappointment. My "Doing It All" looks different that everyone else's but it is unrealistic nonetheless. I keep setting expectations for myself that are not humanly possible. Even if they're physically possible, they don't help me maintain my emotional and physical health.
My craziness has snowballed over the years to where I sit now. As the snowball got bigger, the to-do list got longer and I started to shed activities that I had once enjoyed. If you look at just a piece at a time, it looks simple but put all the pieces together and it's chaos. I mean who doesn't agree to buy another business, in another state, the day after you find out you're pregnant with your third child? I knew that it would mean Brandon would be away for days at a time and my workload would increase dramatically. Then just one week to the day after that baby was born, I was back to work, with him in tow. Within 2 months, I was up to 50+ hours a week working. My work hours have varied, topping 60 at one particularly difficult point, and I can't seem to make the changes that would keep them consistently lower than 40. I'm supposed to work part-time?! That hasn't happened in years.
All the while, I have struggled to maintain the other parts of our lives. The house has to be cleaned consistently, completely. The laundry needs done because we're not nudists. Obviously, we need to eat, so I keep cooking. The kids go here and there. Homework gets done. And somewhere in between we try to be involved in projects at church. It has led to years of short nights and short tempers.
I'm finally to the point where I can acknowledge that I can't do it all. I might even stop trying to do it all. There was a time when I cleaned the whole house every Monday to start my week off right. I'm figuring out that I really like my house to be cleaned but we aren't going to die if it goes longer than a week. Those nights when I really don't feel like cooking, cereal works just as well and the kids think it's a treat.
I can remember saying that 2011 was going to be better than 2010, but everything was the same. The problem is that I wasn't ok with not doing it all. Instead of looking for the elusive "better" in 2014 I've changed my way of thinking. Now I'm looking for just one word--Healthy. Healthy in all ways--more sleep, reduced work hours, less stress, and realistic expectations. Creating time to do what I really want to do--exercise, learning more Spanish, not being grouchy with my kids, having more fun.
I know that there will still be times of stress and disappointment but I need to take back my life for myself and my family. We need a better balance. Please pray that I can follow through.