“How do you do it all?”
Has that question been asked of you before?
Truth Bomb: You can’t do it all.
Most of the people that seem to do it all with grace are actually embracing planned neglect.
Say what? Isn’t neglect a dirty word with a negative connotation? Aren’t we supposed to be Superwoman?
If you’re overwhelmed with life, with homeschool, with work, with the housework, and with the schedule, then it’s time to embrace a different way. Say no to some things so you can say yes to the best things.
In John C. Maxwell’s book, Leadership 101, he retells the story of a concert violinist.
She was asked the secret to her success. She replied, “Planned neglect.” Then she explained, “When I was in music school, there were many things that demanded my time. When I went to my room after breakfast, I made my bed, straightened the room, dusted the floor, and did whatever else came to my attention. Then I hurried to my violin practice. I found I wasn’t progressing as I thought I should, so I reversed things. Until my practice period was completed, I deliberately neglected everything else. That program of planned neglect, I believe, accounts for my success. (Maxwell, 1993, pp. 28-29)
What might planned neglect look like for you? Here are the three steps in your journey from overwhelm to calm.
1. Know Your Why
If you’re doing all the things because you think you’re supposed to or because your best friend seems to be, then you’ve missed the point. What are the priorities and values that are important to your family?
What is your season of life? With kids? With homeschool? With health issues? With work?
You cannot compare your season to someone in another season.
This can be extremely hard for the mom with a house full of littles. I remember feeling like I was drowning in those days. I had four boys in five years and it was nuts! But I am out of that season. The challenges are still there, but they’re different. Know your particular limits and special opportunities in each season.
2. When you say YES to one thing, you’re saying NO to another
When you say YES to a team sport for each of your four children, you might be saying NO to family dinners most of the week. If this is okay with you and pushing you toward your goals for your family, then do it. If family dinner is the priority, then the sports need reconsidered.
When you say YES to binging on Netflix at night, then you might be saying NO to exercising or reading or that hobby you say you never have time to work on.
3. Good > better > best
This doesn’t mean that what you say NO to is bad.
Everyone needs a good Netflix binge, especially after one of “those days.” And it might be fine for each of your kids to participate in a team sport this year.
But maybe you need to say NO to the good so that you can have the time and focus for the best options.
This might look like:
- not volunteering right now because your family needs you home
- frozen dinners instead of made from scratch
- housecleaning – minimum acceptable cleanliness, at least for a season
- clothes that are clean, even if they aren’t folded or put away
- minimalist homeschool in some subjects instead of all. the. projects and bells and whistles
- limit outside commitments to get some of the breathing room back in the family’s schedule
“How do you do it all?”
When a friend asks me this question, what she doesn’t see is the dust in the house. Or the four-year-old’s laundry that is just shoved in the drawer. That I made chicken burgers for dinner last night instead of spending time cooking a meal. That I haven’t watched a single episode of the latest shows.
So, dear homeschooling mom, you can’t do it all. Don’t even try. You will burn out if you don’t start to embrace planned neglect.
Get clear on your big priorities, your why. Decide what you will say yes to, and graciously say no to the rest. Choose the best things, not merely the good things.
And this is how you find calm again after a season of overwhelm.