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How do you keep it all together?

Categories: Hacking Life, Making Time, The Juggle, Uncategorized


Last night, my husband and I put the little kids to bed and then went to bed ourselves. It was practically unheard of, turning out the lights at 9:15 p.m. without one (or both) of us being sick or without one (or both) of using having to get up for work at something crazy, like 2:30 a.m. I actually started rationalizing the decision — “It’s not that different from going to bed at 3 and sleeping until noon! We both used to do that before we had kids, right?” — while he tried to nod his head without moving it off of his pillow.

Truth is, we were both just wiped out. And hitting the hay on the crazy-early side was all we could do to keep ourselves sane.

A lot of people ask me, “How do you do it all?” or “How do you keep it all together?” and are surprised when I answer that, sometimes, I just don’t. There are days when all of my plans get left in the dust as a herd of other things — lately, pointless but somehow still important — stampede over me, clamoring for my immediate attention. I get discouraged when the things I honestly want to do don’t get done because I’m either out of time or out of energy. I try to delegate, and discover that my priorities don’t mesh with other people’s, and it’s easier — or, at least, less frustrating — to do what I can myself and let the other things slide.

Now that I think about it, “keeping it all together” can apply to a lot of things: Your household, your kids’ activities and obligations, your career, your sanity.  So, working moms, how do you keep it all together? (Forgive me, Dads, but even though you work really hard, too, and want to be more of a hands-on parent, a lot of the “keeping it all together” — at home, at least — falls to the moms.)

Home- and office-supply provider ACCO Brands is searching for “Everyday Heroes,” asking people to share their “keeping it all together” stories for a chance to win $1,000 in home- and office-organization products. Which sounds great, but the real prize, I think, is the inspiration that comes from reading some of these stories: A Head-Start teacher who is keeping it together for his students, a working mom with a special-needs son who says her home office keeps her sane, volunteers who keep it all together to help other people live a better life.

I’m pretty organized in spite of my tendency to clutter. I think that, and my multitasking super powers, are how I keep it all together — most of the time.

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2 comments so far...

  • I think I keep it together by being able to let go of stuff that isn’t going to happen. Whether it’s work, social, or kid stuff. I generally prioritize kid stuff (understanding that I only get to spend about 25 hours per week with the kids and I’d hate for it to be any less). Work stuff - well, of course I want to do my best, but it will be there tomorrow if I don’t finish it today. Social stuff (outside of close family and work people) is on the brink of extinction, and most selfish pursuits have been in hibernation for years. But I’m OK with that. Truth be told, I hardly remember why I found some of that stuff so interesting.

    The other thing I do is take mega-vitamins. They keep me at an even keel so I can get through each day without collapsing. Believe me, with the amount of stuff I try to squeeze into some days, it would be easy to get exhausted (even if I weren’t old enough to be a granny).

    SKL  |  September 6th, 2010 at 3:15 pm

  • I simply accept that my house is not spotless, and I will never reach my ideal of perfection. Then I do what I can. When my daughter is away for an afternoon I’ll do a deep clean of one area (bathroom, kitchen, living room). I’ll sort the living room clutter or switch out clothing seasons while watching TV.
    And I’ll remind myself that my daughter is happy and well cared for and really, that is the whole point.

    Mich  |  September 7th, 2010 at 1:50 pm