This is one of the most common questions I get from readers and writers alike.
What made me decide to actually answer the question here was when a friend (we'll call her Blondie) happened to let drop the fact that neighbors were asking her how I did it all, trying to get the scoop on me.
See, Blondie has known me most of my life. As in, I attended her fifth birthday party, we went to Girls Camp together, and we have pictures of one another and stories that we could use to black mail the other from high school and college. (Scary, huh? Good thing we really like each other.)
It so happened that about two years ago she moved into a house right around the corner from me, and ever since, her daughter and my youngest daughter are now best buds. So the ladies in our neighborhood went to Blondie asking her to unravel the mystery that is supposedly me. "How does she do it all?"
I laughed and laughed and laughed.
If I were being completely ridiculous, I would smile and make up something about how I've managed to be so organized and sleep only three hours a night.
Here's the truth: I DON'T do it all. Not even close.
My house isn't like Martha Stewart's. It's clean enough for me, but probably not for a lot of people. I enlist my kids to do a lot of the work. I figure it's good for them. I don't remember the last toilet I cleaned. That's their job. Sure, they don't always do it as well as I would, but I cleaned toilets when I was nine. It was good for me at the time.
I don't have a lot of hobbies. I used to scrapbook a lot. I don't anymore. Every so often I'll pull out a few supplies on a Sunday (because that's when I don't write) and slap a few pictures onto some cardstock so my kids will actually have a record that they existed, but their scrapbooks are woefully out of date now.
In the last year, I've gotten my hair done twice. Once was in August, once in March. The LDS Booksellers Convention is in August. The LDStorymakers Writing Conference is in March. You do the math.
As mentioned in my tag blog earlier this week, I rarely get dressed until lunch time. Show up at my door in the morning, and I look like a wreck. Doesn't mean that I haven't been UP before that, likely sorting laundry, cleaning up the kitchen, or whatever. I've been busy. But I'm still in my PJ's (as I am right now. Karen Neuburger light blue ones . . .).
It's not uncommon for me to go to bed with the kitchen looking like a disaster. I'm totally okay with not getting all the dishes put away before bed. I'll be cleaning up breakfast in a few hours anyway. Why not add some of the dinner mess to it too? At night I'm tired. I don't want to do more cleaning. I don't mind cleaning in the morning. Yet a lot of people would freak out to know what my kitchen looks like at midnight.
Once I had a neighbor watch me sweeping. He flipped out. "WHAT happened?!"
I stopped and looked around, thinking a child's hair was on fire. I finally realized that he was looking at the mess on the floor. To be honest, I think the guy is a bit OCD and isn't used to normal messes. (Or maybe I'm delusional and don't realize that my messes are a class beyond "normal.") I looked down at what the broom had collected.
"The kids ate Doritos," I told him. He was the father of small children. Surely he knew that when you give a bag of chips to little kids, they don't stay ON the table.
But I guess most people tend to sweep up immediately, and I often . . . don't.
Not that I'm a slob. I don't think. I do take care of the house, to a point. But I have my priorities. I once had a friend whose mission in life was to have a clean house. She woke up at 6:00 am to keep her home that way. That's pretty much all she did, from scrubbing the kids' toothpaste spit to vacuuming Cheerios from under the couches to cleaning grout with a brush.
Not worth it, says I.
For starters, I want a life. And I think kids need to learn to work, too.
So there's a balance. I let the kids work. I let a few things slip through the cracks. And I find a place for my writing in the mix, because it keeps me sane.
I learned once that if I don't write on a semi-regular basis, that, paradoxically, I actually have less time for everyone. The house is messier, I'm a wreck, the kids are worse behaved, my church work suffers. I struggle to find time for my husband. Go figure.
So I have to find a little time for writing if I'm to keep everything else in place. It really does help. (At least, when I'm not on deadline. Those are the times when everything else goes crazy and we start running out of food and underwear.)
Balance. That's how I do what I do. But I DON'T "do it all," whatever that means.
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