Nell Asks, Part 2: How Do You Do It All?

October 19, 2007

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If you’re new to the conversation, you can see how Nell started it here, how I responded to her “why I homeschool” question, and her next query is:  

You homeschool, have four young children, AND you own a successful business at home. I’m strongly considering homeschooling my boys now, only have two right now but plan to have more, and I own a business, too. What advice do you have for me on how to handle it all without totally losing my mind. (lol) How in the world do you do it all?

First of all Nell, that was really interesting… hearing about how for your Mom, homeschooling was a way to give you stability and continuity in your possibly unstable environment. That is probably the most unusual reason I’ve heard for homeschooling, but it makes absolute sense to me.

In answer to your question, I don’t do it all, and what I do, I do imperfectly. :) What I mean by I don’t do it all is that I’ve had to make choices based on my biggest priorities and goals in life, the “big rocks”, and the little rocks have to fit in after that, and the sand goes into the bucket last, if there’s any room left.

Once I sat down, years ago when I was feeling stressed (I think it was after Ilana my third was born) and wrote a kind of mission statement for my parenting. I decided that there were a couple of things that I absolutely wanted my children to remember about their childhood. And that if there wasn’t enough time or energy for everything, that if these important things were taken care of, I would feel that I had done a good job that day and not beat myself up.

That gives structure to my life and it only takes a moment for me to quietly remind my brain of what my “big rocks” are. Have you ever seen or heard someone use that illustration? If you take a bucket and start filling it up with small rocks and sand and then try to add bigger rocks, it will overflow. But if you put the big rocks in first and then the smaller, you still end up with room for sand and even water. It’s a great metaphor for priorities.

If you’re considering homeschooling your boys, you’ll do great. I know that you already have a handle on what education means, and you have a good schedule for your business too. For someone just starting out with their business it would be hard because it takes awhile to figure out what works and how best to spend your time, but you’ve already learned that and you’ve certainly gotten the outsourcing thing down!

What’s more, I have a “big rocks” list for my housework and for homeschooling and for business. It’s kind of a “If nothing else gets done today, what would I want to accomplish and still feel happy and productive?”

So my big rocks list for my house would be: Making sure the areas that impact health (kitchen, bathroom) are clean, and have a healthy dinner on the table each night. So if the dusting goes a month inbetween getting tackled, no big deal.

My big rocks list for homeschool is reading and math. Readers tend to be good spellers, have larger vocabularies and a better grasp of English, so reading is very important, and math should be done daily in my opinion. But if we don’t get to do a Science project, no big deal. My 6 year old wants to learn how to make solar panels and trust me, I’ll have him on that project soon enough… but right now I can’t get to it.

Big rocks for business are blogging daily, infoproduct marketing and content creation. You’ve probably noticed that I don’t always get a new show on the site every week. :)

There are also a lot of things I don’t even attempt to do even though they might be fun or have certain advantages. For instance, at this time the kids aren’t involved in any extracurricular activities. Last year Ilana took ballet, but I was way more into it than she was LOL! Other than that, I don’t really have time for those right now, and the kids aren’t suffering for it. If we go out it’s to meet some friends at the park to play, or for a homeschooler’s field trip. When they’re older and I have more energy (read: everyone is sleeping through the night), that’s something we’ll do.

I’ve also had to be ok with my business growing more slowly than some of my counterparts who got started around the time that I did. That’s been hard at times. I’ve felt the occasional twinge of envy (yikes – did I just admit that?) when I see how some work at home Moms have meteoric success and achieve in months what it’s taken me 4 years to accomplish. But I just remind myself that I’m in a different place (we all have our own struggles!) and that I’ve made choices that limit my time, so it’s just that – a choice. It’s ok to go slow. :) I’ve gotten better at not comparing myself to other work at home Moms in the last year.

So I hope my analogy made sense to you Nell. I think you’ll do great, especially since your business is already rockin’ and rollin’ and whatever time you spend on it makes it grow.

So here’s another question for you – What do you see your business and home life looking like in ten years?

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7 Responses to “Nell Asks, Part 2: How Do You Do It All?”

  1. Alyssa on October 19th, 2007 1:07 pm

    hi there Carrie,
    THis was encouraging to me. I’m a new WAHM still and I find it very difficult to “do it all”. I have wondered for quite some time how ladies like you and Nell “do it all” and I’m glad you have shared that you “don’t.” I feel better! We’re all in this together right??

  2. Tiffany on October 20th, 2007 12:10 pm

    That was a great article about not comparing yourself Carrie. I had never seen that one before.

  3. Sharon@New Urban Mom on October 24th, 2007 12:24 pm

    Carrie – I just read this cross blogging post today and I have to say you are the mom I tried to be when my two were toddlers. The only difference is you are much more organized and determined to succeed – and so you are! I wish I’d had a friend like you then! I like the small rocks and large rocks approach – makes everything seem so much more doable. I ended up panicking about finances and returned to full-time work when our kids were 4 and 2.

    That was 12 years ago and while my kids are our joy and benefitted by having grandparents home with them after school (we bought a house 2 blocks away from them), I still miss not having some of those memories that you are carefully nurturing and enjoying now with your four.

    Thank you for this public/private blog – I love it!


  4. Casual Friday Everyday » Some more cross blog conversation with Carrie. on October 29th, 2007 1:08 pm

    [...] Carrie answered my last question and left a question for me..which I’ll answer in this post below. If you don’t know what’s going on here, Carrie and I have been in a Cross Blog Conversation. You can read all the previous letters by clicking here. Make sure you visit Carrie’s blog to read her answer to my question in this post.  Carrie, [...]

  5. CBC: The Juggler wants to know: “How do you juggle?” | Natural Moms Talk Radio on November 8th, 2007 5:56 pm

    [...] Alyssa I’m going to cheat here! Nell asked me the same question for our cross blog conversation last week, so instead of saying the same things, I’ll point you to this post: How do you do it all? [...]

  6. Raising 4 kids on mainly Passive Income | Mom2Mom Lounge on October 17th, 2008 9:27 am
  7. Marya on March 11th, 2009 9:26 am

    Those are good words of wisdom. I could easily slip into comparing myself to someone else who doesn’t have four kids and why aren’t things moving faster.

    I also focus on the 3Rs and try not to get too uptight when social studies and science don’t happen. It does get tougher when you have a teen who wants to go here and there.

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