on having it all

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I got an email this week that made me cry. And not because it was super sweet (which it was). It made me cry because my friend Delia was asking how I manage ‘have it all’ (balance the duties of keeping house, parenting, blogging/crafting, being a friend and making time for me) and I am failing so miserably at all of those things lately.

In fact, I got the email right after I finished telling Adam, “I feel like I am failing at EVERYTHING. I can’t seem to juggle our house(s), our kids, our friends and the blog. Whenever I take time to get one right, the others fall to pieces. And right now, I feel like they are all falling to pieces.” Ironic timing, Delia’s email.

I am sorry if I ever give the impression that everything is always rosy here in kojo-land.

Friends, it is not.

Right now-

-We have two houses. One is mostly-packed and the other is a tornado of remodeling. Neither is particularly orderly nor welcoming.

-I wear yoga pants and a t-shirt every day, with my hair in a pony tail and no makeup on my face. If you see me and I am wearing a dress (or even jeans!)/makeup/my hair is down, know that you are the exception not the rule.

-I don’t cook. Unless it is a freezer crockpot meal that I made a month ago (thank goodness for those).

-Burke is in rough shape right now, behavior-wise. That kid needs stability and routine and this two-houses, bedtime-at-different-places, constant-shuttling (and working) is rough on him. And his attitude and fits are rough on me. It’s just rough all around.

-I haven’t used my sewing machine in weeks (since the Halloween costumes, actually). I have some projects swirling around in my head (one that needs to be started STAT so that I can finish it up before Trish’s baby shower in a couple weeks), but unless you count sanding or painting wood floors as creativity, I am in the middle of a hand-made hiatus.

-My grandfather passed away last week and I find myself crying at random times. Yesterday, I cried for over an hour at the thought of selling his house. I know that grieving is a natural, normal thing, but the roller coaster of tears makes me feel even more unstable.

Now, here’s the deal. It is c.r.a.z.y.t.o.w.n. around here right now, much more chaotic than usual. However, in my real everyday life, without two houses or remodeling craziness, when I get a normal amount of sleep, when there isn’t anything going on with my family, and without extenuating circumstances, I still do not have it all together.

If the blog is full of great new projects every day, my house is probably a mess. If I am rocking at mama-hood, my time to check in with friends seems to dwindle. And if my house is spic and span, my kids are either in one of those great play-well-together stages, or watching too much Word World. Even ‘balance’ just means having most areas (family, friends, house, blog) humming along at around 80%.

Don’t get me wrong- I love my life and wouldn’t trade it for the world (most days). It’s just that Having It All is unattainable for now and perhaps unattainable for always. And that’s ok with me.

ps- If you have any tips for making life feel stable for kids when it isn’t, I’m all ears. Actually, if you have get-it-together tips in general, I’m game. And if you don’t have it together either, high five- at least we’re in this together.

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  1. Awww…bless your heart. I, too, fall into that rut now and then. What I’ve found in my 43 yrs is to appreciate the accomplishments, no matter how small; don’t focus on the negatives. Know you are loved and that your children are loved. You are setting a good example for them, believe it or not. Make the best of the moments, laugh a lot more at the things that frustrate you…it will lift your spirits and put you right back into your happy place. Whether the house gets cleaned, projects get done, dinner was served on time, or kids get all the attention they crave…life does go on. That’s a great example to set for your children…the ability to face reality, life is not perfect, set goals and try to achieve them. Challenges make us strong, not whether you fail or succeed at them. You are a great person, wonderful mother, caring friend, and above all…a real woman.

    1. Andie, thanks so much for this comment, the encouragement and the the words of wisdom.
      And you are right about facing challenges. I never really thought about that way, but Burke and Piper are sure to run into rough patches and I’d love to help equip to ride those out and handle them with grace.
      Thanks again…

  2. Dear Kistin!
    What a nice post, thank you for being honest. I feel the exact same way, if somethig gets more focus, the other parts in my life suffer!

    If you’re in need of some guest posting during your remodelling time, let me know!

    1. Thanks Tone! So glad to hear that I’m not the only one. And I’ll be in touch about guest posting. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. I always say you can have it all, but not all at the same time. Balance is rough. I know I struggle with it all the time. You sound like you could use a hug, so imagine I’m giving you one. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Thanks so much for this post. It’s easy to see someone’s blog and believe they “have it all” so it’s refreshing to read about reality! It is all about balance and acceptance. I also think knowing that you cannot get it perfect makes a person better at all they do, especially motherhood!

    1. Thanks Jessica!
      You’re so right- the best moms I know are fully aware that they aren’t doing everything perfect! I bet that applies to the other areas as well. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Hugs, Kirstin! We all know what you’re going through. I have been struggling a lot lately with balancing time for chores and cooking, time for the kids, and the creative time that I crave for myself. Oh yeah, and I work full-time! Yet from the outside, I’m sure it looks like I have it together, when really, I don’t, and I feel confused and guilty on a daily basis. All you can do is try to let it go because the stress can’t possibly help. It’s okay if things slow down on the blog while you have lots of unusual thing going on in your life. For me, what balance really means is a fluctuation in what I’m spending time on. For one week, it may be all about my kids, another week is work, and another week is a creative project like a quilt. And, finally, a very big hug for the loss of your grandfather. Mine passed away almost 6 years ago, and I can still cry just at the thought.

    1. Heather, thanks so much for this comment. It is comforting somehow to hear that other people do the crazy-juggling as well. I love your exhortation to let go- it’s so hard for me! I would love to just figure out the magic formula where I CAN do it all well instead. ๐Ÿ™‚
      And thanks so much for your sweet words about my grandpa- sorry about yours too (as we grieve Adam’s dad, who passed away more than 2 years ago, we keep learning that sometimes grief increases with time!). ๐Ÿ™

  6. Lifting you up to Jesus right now! I struggle with the battle of perfection all the time. I wish you could see my kitchen and the stack of dishes in the sink that I’m avoiding. However, if you look at my blog you’d see some pretty awesome mama jeggings and wouldn’t know that my house is getting ready for a garage sale, decluttering for our next child to come to us through adoption, etc. I think the point is to be okay with where God has us right now and trust that he’s working all of this together to bring us to him!

    Love and prayers,

    1. Vanessa, wouldn’t it be great if we could just get it all right all the time? Haha.
      Thank you for your prayers, friend. Seriously, they’re so appreciated.
      And I totally relate to behind-the-scenes chaos when things are awesome on the blog. It’s why I’ve sworn off sewing competitions- my house gets wrecked and my kids watch too much TV during those.
      Thanks for being such an encouragement to me this morning.
      ps- We want to adopt too! Maybe in the next couple years? ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. I can totally relate to this. My problem is, I love having my blog reserved as my “pretty place.” Much of what I do during the day as a mother/housewife is immediately undone … you do the breakfast dishes, and then comes lunch. There is always more laundry to do. They kids are constantly making messes. But the blog is a place where I can create something that has some permanence – even if the dress I sew gets stained on the first wearing, I’ll always have a pristine picture on the blog. Or if my kids are making me crazy, I can look at one of their cute faces in a blog post and remember how easy it is to love them. There is a reason I never post photos of my home – it is always a mess!

    Anyway, maybe I need to keep it real more often, too. I would hate for someone to feel bad because they don’t “have it all together.” Really, no one does, least of all, me!

    1. Jill, I love this comment. And, actually, usually my blog is that spot as well (the nice-est version of my life).
      I love your sentiment about how most of life right now is immediately undone- when Burke was littler and Piper was not here yet, I read that there is beauty in the routine of redoing what gets undone. While that’s true- making order is beautiful- it is also a constant, sometimes draining state to be sure.
      And thanks for the encouragement that no one has it all together… I always wonder if there is some magic formula that I’m missing. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Thanks so much for sharing this! I really appreciate your honesty ๐Ÿ™‚ It helps the rest of us not feel so guilty and it makes me feel like I can totally relate. I don’t have any wonderful answers for ya’ but know that “this too shall pass”. Hang in there! Here’s a (((HUG))) for ya!

    1. Thanks so much for this comment Leigh Anne. Glad you can relate! ๐Ÿ™‚ And you’re right- the everything.is.crazy season will come to an end soon (and I’ll be back to my normal, still not having everything together- haha!). ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Thank you for your transparency, Kirstin. This is a daily battle for me. The kids are down for their naps right now and what I really should be doing is cleaning my disgusting master bathroom, but all I want to do is sit on the couch, eat my lunch in peace, browse the internet or watch TV. Then when they wake up, the house will still be a wreck and I’ll have to choose between playing with them and having a clean house. It’s so hard and it’s really nice to know that I am not alone in this. Thanks for being vulnerable and sharing real life with us – I like it! Love and hugs to you and yours.

    1. Nicole, I have the same struggle during naptime every day! And usually the less productive option wins (lately, I nap with the kids to make up for the 4 hours of sleep we’re getting at night- UGH!).
      Anyhow, thanks for chiming in to let me know that I’m not alone in this battle, friend!

  10. Thanks for this post, Kirsten. Sending lots of love & encouragement to you today. When my to-do list seems never ending, and my yet-to-dos are outnumbering the items crossed off, I try to remind myself to stop & just count my gifts — those little, often subtle joys that you can see in the midst of the mess.

    1. Natalie, what a great reminder. I have two subtle joys napping right now and countless others. Including the new house, actually- the stem of much of my stress is also SUCH a blessing, full of things I didn’t even hope for in our next house.
      Thanks for this comment and the encouragement, friend.

  11. Oh, great post girl. And I’d echo other commenters that my blog is my creative space, the one place in my life where I have total control over how it looks and what it is. I try to give glimpses of the “real” from time to time too, but the reality is that between working 4 days a week, spending time with my kids and husband, sewing, blogging, keeping up on blogs, yadda yadda yadda, my house is usually not clean, I haven’t worked out (or gotten a haircut) in months, and I don’t get nearly enough sleep. But I love what I do, and I know you do too! That’s what makes it all worth it; the reward of creating and building relationships with other gals that love the same things. Hm…this is turning into a blog post of my own now! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. Haha- thanks for the encouragement friend.
      You reminded me that I haven’t worked out since we got the house- hahahaha! ๐Ÿ™‚ Another thing to add to the list, right?
      And you are so right, I LOVE this stuff, love blogging, love you guys, love being a stay at home mama. Just trying to do it all and failing currently. ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Just had to give you a high-five! I have people asking me the same and I am just so tired of telling them that I don’t have it all together that now I just smile and say thank you. I think we all need more such posts from in the blogosphere so we all know that nobody has it “all together”. We all just try our best in our own unique circumstances and sometimes we are just so tired of juggling that we let things fall. Hope you get to your 80% point soon and things become less chaotic for you.

    1. Anshu, love the high five!
      And I love your comment- gosh, I hope the 80% point is coming again soon too. ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Just wanted to send some love your way, Kirstin. We are all in this together. I cut back on blogging thinking that it would make things easier in the other areas of my life, but it still isn’t enough. It’s so hard, but you’re not alone.

    1. Gwen, thanks so much for this sweet comment. Honestly, it is such a reassurance just to hear that this is something you (and so many others) grapple with as well! Doesn’t it seem like too much, sometimes, to try to figure out how to make life happen?
      Thanks for the love, friend.

  14. Good timing on this post for me….my husband and I have been recently talking about me quitting my job to be a stay at home mom. It’s not that the daycare costs are all that horrific for us that it would make financial sense for me to stay home rather than working. But for me it is about finding that balance – or the closest thing to balance as I can get anyways. To juggle four young children, a husband, a house, friends and family and a job and somewhere in there find time for myself is more than I am capable of doing right now. My kids need me at home more than they need designer stuff they never use anyways. So yes, it may mean that we are going to be eating more hot dogs and spaghetti to make ends meet, but isn’t that what balance is really about? Isn’t balance really a give and take? So yes, “having it all” in someone else’s definition may be the clean house, the gourmet meals, the amazing crafts and projects, the perfectly well behaved kids and the gorgeous, done-up mom. But that isn’t reality. We all have to find our own “having it all” definition. And the great thing about this crazy thing called life is that definition can change and be fluid to meet the needs of our family and ourselves at that time. I appreciate the honesty in your post as I struggle with the “am I going to be good enough” monster that keeps popping up every time we work through the checklist for me to stay at home. I am encouraged that while it may not be the perfect definition of “having it all”, the truth is, no matter what I have going on, I am blessed, I am loved and I already have it all. Now to go finish that severely neglected laundry! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Kellie, what a great comment, with so many great reminders of truth.
      I’m so excited that you’re going to be staying home- especially since you guys have decided that that’s what your little guys need. And you are so right about redefining ‘having it all’- in so many senses I DO have it all. ๐Ÿ™‚
      Thanks for all of your kind words!

  15. Sending lots of love and support your way. I think that all of us get to the point that our mom-life, work-life, online-life, and other committments seem overwhelming. Thanks for the blog post “pulling back the curtain”, so to speak. I love the posts about real life, because it makes me feel as though I’m not alone in my wondering of how I will get it all done.

    Keep the faith, spend time with those adorable kiddos (try to have them help as much as possible), and take the time you need to feel balanced.

    1. Jennifer, thanks so much for this comment and your encouragement. I love it that you feel the same way sometimes- it makes this feel less hard even though I’m in the exact same spot! ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Having it all is a fallacy. Rather than worrying about the details, focus on the most important questions…are you happy? When we were building our home, things were way out of proportion. We had similar behavior issues, and it’s just a hard time. My best advice, try to find some ways to provide stability for Burke. If at all possible, let him help. My little kids spent a lot of time watching movies when we built our home, but there were times when we could include them. Also, try to have meals at the same time…doesn’t matter if it comes from a crockpot. ๐Ÿ™‚ Most of all, I’m so sorry for the passing of your papa. It’s been three years since my papa passed away, and there is still a raw part of my soul that hurts. It’s ok…that is how it should be when one we love so much isn’t close. There have been important times when I have known that he was close by, like when I graduated with my AuD. You can get it all done, just be patient with yourself. <3

    1. Chris, I love these tips! It helps my heart to know that you guys ran into some of the same stuff- I love the idea of letting him help, and also the tip for having meals at the same time every day. What great advice!
      And thanks so much for your kind words about our grandpa (made me cry a little). Isn’t it rough to do those ‘big’ things without the people you love? I would’ve done ANYTHING to have Adam’s dad (who passed away two years ago) at his dental school graduation- it just feels like they should see that stuff, you know???
      Thanks again for the encouragement, friend.

  17. Just wanted to let you know that you are not alone! I recently (as in–last week) abandoned a 31 days post series and wrote a post that has since, changed my everyday life. I decided to take a blog hiatus until Dec. 15th. The amount of work I’ve gotten done since and the amount of cuddles and giggles is astounding. My blog design business is vital to my family’s budget so I can’t be gone forever but 2 months was do-able. So I did. No new projects until Dec. 15th. No blog posts. Scary and yet freeing.
    If you’d like to read the post you can find it here, Flourishing, Not Floundering

    1. Kristi, I love it that you know what your family needs and know when to take a break. Kudos friend!
      I resonated with so many things you said in your post- I HATE putting my kids off while I finish up work. And I have the exact same fears you do about walking away/taking a break when it took me so long to get here! Love it that you’re doing what you know is right for your family even with those fears. ๐Ÿ™‚
      Thanks for the encouragement, friend!

  18. I think the three most important things for you to do for the children right now is
    1. stick to a timeschedule – breakfast at 8, dinner at 6, bed time at 9, whatever… I know it’s difficult, but it makes it so much easier for them. And remember that even if you personally have to be somewhere else, the babysitter or whomever is watching the kids can still stick to your schedule!
    2. give them proper food every day! (The freezer is a life-saver.) And give them the same breakfast every day – don’t have bagels for breakfast just because your tired, unless you have bagels every day and so on.
    3. try to seem calm and happy when you’re with the kids. Sometimes this is difficult, but screaming at your husband, crying over your grandfather or being grouchy because you’re tired makes them sad/angry… Which makes it worse for you.

    And remember to breathe!

    And last, a tip for you: Take an hour or two every week when you do something for yourself – take a long bath, go out for dinner, buy a huge latte at Starbucks… ๐Ÿ™‚ Remember that you’re a woman as well as everything else! You’ll feel so much better, and believe me – I know the feeling of not being enough.

    1. Ellen, I love these tips so much. I feel like they are totally do-able, but also have the potential to make a huge difference. I love the same-schedule every day idea (and the huge latte at Starbucks idea- haha). ๐Ÿ™‚ Seriously, thank you!

  19. I just remembered something else: I don’t know how old Burke is, but if you’re painting something he might be able to help. As long as you cover the floor well, give him a brush or paint roller and an empty room… He could be happy for a long time, alone or with others painting in the same room!

    1. We still have a TON of painting to do on the main level- totally trying this! ๐Ÿ™‚ I might even let Burke help me repaint his dresser (that’s on the docket for nap time tomorrow- but he doesn’t nap, so maybe he’ll help me). ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for the idea.

  20. Perfect timing to read this (a week late :). It is HARD to be a mother of toddlers in this “Modern world”. Feel like all Mommies are trying to be supermom/superwife/superhousekeeper/supercook etc… & then some try to judge eachother and how others parent or etc. and it is hard! Thanks for taking the time to be honest. It is nice for all of us to know that we are not alone. Having the Holidays aprroaching does not help with the chaos that we are all feeling, but hopefully we can all stop and pause and remember the reason for the season.

    1. Oh my goodness- the holidays are rapidly approaching aren’t they. UGH. ๐Ÿ™‚
      And thanks for this. I would love it if I could figure out how to be all of those super-things. Seriously. Love it. But it isn’t working for me yet.
      Thanks for the encouragement, friend!

  21. Oh! So sorry to hear about your Grandpa. It is so hard to lose someone we love. I am embarrassed to say 2 1/2 years after losing my beloved grandmother who helped raise me, I still cry when I try to talk about her. It makes me mad because I want to remember her and be able to talk about her. Hopefully you are able to be fortunate for what he offered to your life and not feel constant sadness.

    1. Nici, so sorry to hear about your grandma! Adam’s dad died two years ago and I still cry OFTEN that he isn’t around. I think it gets harder in some ways, actually.
      And thanks for your sweet words about my grandpa.

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