I DON’T Do It All

Joanna Fowler May 27, 2015 Family, Parenting, Self

I don't do it all collageI owe my readers an apology. I recently had a phone call with a new mom who was struggling. Then she asked me something that made me realize that I have been leaving a large unintentional piece of my puzzle out. She asked: “If I am struggling with only one baby this much, and needing so much help, how do you do it all with four kids?” My response, I don’t do it all.

I may have given this picture of my day consisting of me getting up, working out, parenting all day while running a business and getting a delicious hot meal on the dinner table all on my own. That is not the case.

I have help. Years ago when Holden was eighteen months old and I was very pregnant with Beau I came very close to having a massive breakdown. I was struggling with a child who hated life at the time and I was about to bring a newborn into the mix. I had Mike drive me to our hospital’s labour and delivery and drop me off there. Once inside, I sat with two of the most incredibly compassionate nurses I have ever met. They proceeded to tell me, (while I sat sobbing uncontrollably), their own parenting horror stories and gave me the best parenting advice I have ever received, “get help.”

After that I immediately hired a babysitter to come twice a week to be with Holden, while I went out with our new baby girl Beau. Then I soon moved him to a home daycare two afternoons a week, then three. Holden started to enjoy life more being around his peers, and I was managing better as a parent.

After three years of doing this and being home I realized that I wanted more of a work/stay-at-home-mom balance. I tried working part-time while my kids were first at home with a nanny and then switched to daycare. But that still wasn’t quite right for our family.

That’s when I switched to running my own mural painting and children’s space design company.  Yes, for those of you who just started following Nesting Story, that’s where Nesting Story began. I worked out of the house on weekends and hired a cleaning service to come every other week to come take cleaning off my plate.

When I found out I was pregnant with twins, I had to shut Nesting Story down temporarily. We scraped together every penny (and went into a little debt and accepted help from family) to continue with a cleaning service, and put Beau into nursery school while Holden went to  school.

Mike asked me what kind of help I would need when our twins were born, and despite him thinking we needed help at night with the twins, I knew that I’d rather have help during the day with the older kids. So we hired a nanny to come and be with the older kids during the day, (since the kids were home during the summer months). This made a huge difference.

Once September rolled around and Holden went back to school we put Beau into four full days of preschool and continued with a cleaning service every other week.

Today, after the success of Nesting Story and a couple other exciting projects I am working on and will tell you about soon, I have been able to hire a part time nanny to help with our twins about sixteen hours a week on top of the older kids being in school and having a cleaning service. She is incredible. She helps with the dishes and laundry so I can work during part of the day and be present with the family for the rest.

I also barely cook. I make very basic healthy meals. I pick up healthy meals sometimes as well. I haven’t mastered the dinner situation yet, but I have always told Mike that my goal in life is to hire a chef. Haha.

I know this post is long winded, and probably filled with too much detail, but I wanted to give you a glimpse into how I actually “do it all”. The answer: I don’t. I am okay with that too. I know that I am a much happier and patient mom because I have help. I don’t struggle with guilt because I know this is the best balance for our family.

I am not saying everyone needs to run out and get help. I am just a huge advocate for women’s mental health and I urge every mother to look for a way to find balance in your life. We get help from family from time to time. But for me, it is important to have a career and be able to pay for steady childcare for my kids.

It took a long time for me to let go of this idealistic picture of what I thought I always wanted as a mother and realize that my path was a little different. I urge you to lose the guilt, and really think about where your strengths and weaknesses lie. Don’t lose yourself in the shuffle. Carve your own parenting path.

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2 thoughts on “I DON’T Do It All”

  1. I love your honesty. My fiance and I want to have 4 kids, a beautiful home, to continue travelling as we do, and to continue to run our business successfully. People think we’re crazy because a) 4 kids b) thinking we can maintain our lifestyle and c) appearing to be naive about it.
    Frankly, I don’t think I’m romanticizing anything. I want our lives to grow and get more complex and I’m completely honest and realistic about how hard that would be. That’s when I tell people I will have hired help, nannies, cleaning service, etc – that these are all part of the Big Picture and the Vision for our lives. Cue judgement for considering to hire help and not do it yourself. It’s a twisted world we live in when we’re told we can’t have it all, and when you decide to do it anyway, to be criticized for how you make it happen.
    I think finding that balance and creating environments that support you is the definition of success. Making the best use of your valuable and limited time in life is what I consider a recipe for fulfilment 🙂

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