Once upon a time, there was a woman named Erika. Erika had one child, writing novels was a hobby, and her husband definitely did not own his own company. In short, Erika was busy, but not too busy.
She was also overweight, so she decided to take a stand and do the whole weight loss thing right. Twice a week personal training sessions, fastidious calorie counting, and six workouts a week and five months later she was the skinniest she’d ever been. She kept that weight off for two whole months before breaking a bone in her foot and then getting knocked up again.
Now, Erika is a very busy mother of two. She’s right back to being overweight again, though now she has twice as many tiny humans to care for, a busy writing career that is very nearly thriving, and an entrepreneurial husband with his own busy work life. Don’t feel too sorry for her, though. Erika is chubby but she’s happy.
Though, sadly, way more woman than she’d like to be. Alas. And this concludes my tale of weight loss woe.
I’ve been thinking about juggling lately, and I’ve developed this theory about how parenthood gives us just enough room to do two things well. Like, there’s this whole spectrum of options out there, and when you have kids, you can pick two things to do well and that’s it. You can half ass a few things at a time, I suppose, but that’s never been something I’ve been good at and besides, it goes against Ron Swanson’s advice. I try to never go against Ron Swanson’s advice.
Here’s a list of things I came up with that you can choose from to do really, really well when you’re a stay at home parent:
- Keeping a clean, organized house. A place for everything, everything in its place. Kids well dressed and presentable, laundry always folded and put away, dishwasher emptied promptly, clear counters, clean floors, sparkling toilets, handy lists in strategic places, etc.
- Friends. Being a really involved, thoughtful, caring friend who intentionally makes room and time for important people. Throwing amazing parties for people, going out for regular coffee dates to keep in touch, dinners/drinks out on the town together, remembering birthdays and important anniversaries, etc. (Think Leslie Knope from Parks and Rec)
- Fitness. Getting in shape, staying in shape, setting and attaining fitness goals, running races, training for triathlons, doing boot camps, cooking and eating healthy, balanced meals, sticking to calorie goals, no junk food, etc.
- Hobby. Putting in the time and effort to hone your craft, perfect your technique, attend workshops, practice, showcase your work at local events, network with other people who like doing what you do, making a name for yourself, etc.
- Kids. Reading stacks of books every day, regular trips to the library, planning out fun activities and play dates, being involved in school activities, researching child development and amending parenting techniques to reflect what you learn, intentional conversations, socializing your kids with other kids in a similar developmental stage, etc.
I’m sure you can probably come up with more, but for me these are the big five. I constantly feel like I should be excelling at all five, and yet, I don’t think it’s possible without either burning out, developing a Ritalin addiction, or half-assing some of them.
Every time I feel like I should be doing more, better, I’m reminded of that scene from The Office where Angela and Phyllis are trying to plan the launch party and Phyllis holds up her fingers with Post-It Notes on them and tells Angela to pick two, because she can’t do them all. And then, when Angela is a huge jerk about it, Phyllis wads the whole lot of Post-Its up and throws it in Angela’s face. Just like this:
And so that’s where I’ve landed. I know I’m capable of being super skinny again. I loved it, and would be delighted to go back there again. I just know how much work and focus that takes, and it’s not possible right now. Not with my kids being the age they are and my writing career being where it is right now. And so, I’m chubby. I’m chubby, but my kids are thriving and my writing is improving and my husband likes hanging out with me. I have occasional coffee with my friends, I workout two-to-three times a week but still eat junk food when I’m stressed, and my house is occasionally a little messy.
I’m whole-assing my kids and my writing career, and everything else gets shoved in wherever there’s room. It’s not ideal, but it’s tenable. How about you? What are you whole-assing vs. half-assing?