It’s the same every time, “I don’t know how you do it.”
I hear this phrase pretty much every time I leave the house. Possibly even more so by people who know more details of my life. They just seem baffled by my ability to be a mother and deal with the harder parts of a husband who worked nights for a year. “How do you do it?”
Here is just a peek into how I manage.
First Please Stop Saying/Asking
PLEASE! Please! Stop saying this to me or asking. Most days I, honestly, don’t know. I make it through the same way all moms and wives do. One day, one hour, one minute at a time.
1. It’s Super Annoying
Really! It’s annoying! I know people say it because they can’t understand or grasp my life but it goes both ways. Their lives often baffle me just as much. It makes me feel so awkward because they seem to think I have some kind of secret I’m just not sharing.
Here’s the secret: there is NO secret.
There I said it. Now you don’t need to ask.
You may not find the question/statement annoying like I do but you have to admit we tend to get it a lot, don’t we. If kids are spaced out 2 or more years apart or you have more than 2 people just cannot seem to fathom how to be a parent. How do I do it? I fake it till I make it.
2. It’s Not a Compliment
Maybe it’s just my irritation at hearing it all the time, but I don’t see this as a compliment. I know some people intend for it to be such but I hate the idea that anyone else thinks I have myself 100% put together.
I don’t. Some days I just survive until bedtime. Some days I swear I’m rocking it only find out one of my sons peed in the garage, other spit chewed up apple pieces everywhere, and my daughter is covered in some unknown white substance (turned out to be chalk dust).
I hate feeling like someone is looking up to me and thinking that I’m such a great mom when I feel like such a failure a lot of days. I don’t want people to think that my life is perfect. Instead, I want to be real about what mom life is like. I want people to know that my house gets messy and the kids spill all over and sometimes half my day is just wiping poopy butts.
And 3. I Have No Idea How I Do It!
Seriously! I don’t know. I just make it through the same way every mom and wife does. We all have our own unique challenges we have to face. We all have struggles that must be overcome.
Not only are we all different but so are our children. What works for my kids won’t necessarily work for yours. What works for me won’t always work for you.
It’s not about copying someone else and hoping it fits your family. It’s about taking all the ideas you love and using trial and error until you get just the right combination for your family.
How Do I Do It?
With all that being said I do have some tips and tricks I use to help me survive my toughest mom days.
I live for routine and so do my kids at this point. Studies have also shown us that kids tend to thrive on routine. Knowing what will happen and in what order gives them a sense of understanding. They tend to be calmer for transitions as well.
We have a morning routine, an afternoon routine, and a bedtime routine. I tend to look forward to the start of the afternoon and bedtime routines because it means I get a tad bit of a break as they sleep.
I love seeing each new step of independence my kids take. They can do a lot on their own now even though I still have to help with a lot.
My boys can get dressed on their own. They can practically bathe themselves, get their own snacks, fill their water bottles, and even help unload parts of the dishwasher without me. They help set the table, pick up toys, and play outside in our backyard on their own.
I need them to have those bits of independence so that I am not being tugged in 15 different directions all the time.
Now it has taken us a while to get to this point. Last year, when they were 2, 1, and a newborn, they were a lot less independent and my whole day was devoted to their needs ALL THE TIME. That was ok because they were so little. However, I didn’t want that to be my life forever. I wanted them to learn to be independent and we have been diligent on teaching that.
We have high expectations for our kids. Those expectations are sometimes met and sometimes not but they are in place no matter what. There are consequences to those expectations not being met. Sometimes the consequences are just having to come inside or not being allowed to play with a specific toy. It just depends on what the expectation is.
People are often surprised that my children do fairly well meeting our expectations of obedience in general. That is not to say that they don’t disobey or get into trouble or have fits or any other normal child behavior. However, because the expectations are in place and we are clear about them and the consequences they are often meet or exceed those expectations.
For example, we have the expectation that our children remain in bed once they are tucked in for the night. That is not to say they never get up (plus they have a few exceptions that allow for them to get up). But overall we do not have a “problem” with our kids getting up at night. We go through phases where they might have more trouble than other times but in general, they do well.
Alternatives to “How do you do it?”
Raise your hand if you have ever wished someone would just say “You’re doing great!” instead of wondering aloud how you manage. 🙋♀️ this girl right here!! Maybe some more positive messaging would help us feel like our job is as important as everyone claims it is.
1. You are so Blessed
This is my favorite, to be honest. It’s also my favorite to the alternate “you have your hands full!” I love when people acknowledge the way I feel most days. I am blessed as a mom but sometimes people fail to see it (heck sometimes I fail to see it) when I have kids grabbing things off shelves and baby girl attempting to climb out of the shopping cart no matter how tight that buckle is.
Next time you see a mom with her hands full spread the love and acknowledge that she is blessed.
2. You’re a Great Mom
If I could have someone tell me this once a day that would be amazing! We do not hear this enough as moms. I have started a new thing where at least once a week I try to reach out to a mom I know and tell her she is a great mom.
Almost every single time, they tell me that it was such a blessing to hear and that they needed to hear it that day. I think we need to hear this every day so it’s always a great fall back whenever a person is interacting with a mom.
3. You’re Doing Amazing
This is the other thing we don’t hear often enough. That we are doing a good job. Not just that we are a great mom. But that we are doing a good job at it too. I feel like they are two different concepts.
One is an identity and title, the other is our performance of a job. I like hearing that I am both a great mom and that I am doing a good job.
This is another perfect thing to say to another mom or to encourage others to say instead of “I don’t know how you do it.”
How do I do it? One Day at a Time
The truth of the matter is that there is no great secret to being a mom. There is just trial and error until we finally feel like we have it figured out. Then inevitably everything changes again and we are back to square 1.
So give yourself some slack, leaves those dishes in the sink, and drink your coffee hot the first time!