Of all the questions that readers email in, this is the one that gets me rambling every single time.
“How do you do it all?”
The short answer is that I don't. The long answer, honestly, is that I get other people to do stuff for me.
And I've learned to let a whole lot of things go.
I flew to Orlando last week and spoke on that panel I mentioned with our sponsor Similac. It was a nice, casual chat about how parents can seek out more support for themselves and how we juggle ALL the things. We had a super-engaged crowd that chimed in with tons of insights. They shared ways that they coped with a myriad of parenting issues from busy schedules to deployed spouses, financial struggles, grief, postpartum depression and more. Ideas and camaraderie were sprouting up all over the place and it was awesome.
What most of the room probably failed to notice was my sweet little dude in the back, soaking it all in while his mama spoke and his dada took pictures.
It wasn't lost on me that I was addressing work-life balance while actively engaging in work-life balance. Nate had taken a graveyard shift the night before while I was up with the kids most of the night. He came home, we did a couple speed-loads of laundry together, packed, dropped the big boys off with grandma and hopped on a red-eye with baby strapped in a carrier on my chest.
Mercifully, Nate's aunt lives five minutes away from the conference headquarters in Orlando so we stayed with her and were able to have a relative hold the baby while we both squeezed in some quick shut-eye before the session.
The picture above was actually taken when Aunt Inger flew out to California to meet Bam a couple months after he was born. To this day, it's one of my favorite pictures.
I was thinking about Inger and flipping through photos from last week when I noticed a familiar theme. Photo after photo after photo. I have SO many pictures of people holding my babies! During this conference. During the one before that. During my naps and my work and my laundry. Day in and day out. I have entire folders on my computer dedicated to the people who buoy my family up, quite literally, with their arms.
On cameras. On cell phones. On Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. Each of these photos represents a moment of connection. Each of these platforms represents a little slice of the community who eagerly steps in to be a helping hand. Not only do they help make Nate and I better parents, but they also help build our children into stronger, more flexible and confident human beings.
I used to guilt myself over these “breaks” until I realized what a gift it is to my children. Thanks to my community's support, they're getting a more level-headed and rested mother and father. They're getting diverse experiences. They're learning kinship and they're seeing what work looks like.
And for every picture of someone holding my baby, there's another one like this. There are ones where I'm actively engaged in ALL the snuggles and bottles and diaper-changes, and then ones where I'm talking to a trusted friend while wrangling a binky with one hand.
So when people ask how I “do it all,” my answer is “community.” In the form of friends, relatives, church members, teachers, colleagues, employees and neighbors. I find my community in the school pickup line, library, garden center, club meetings and chat forums. The common thread of parenthood makes it a community of its own.
And whenever I can, I do my very best to look up and around and be that supportive community for someone else.
One great resource that I often share with moms is Similac’s StrongMoms program, which offers up to $400 in rewards, as well as regular emails with tips and your baby’s growth and development! I find all sorts of information on their website, from feeding to milestones and answers to baby-related questions that randomly like to pop into my head at 3am.
Where do you look for understanding and support? Share the video and your answers with hashtag #SisterhoodUnite!
Similac partnered with influencers such as me to promote its Pro-Advance and Pro-Sensitive products. As part of this Program, I received compensation for my time. Similac believes that consumers and influencers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. Similac policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines and social media engagement recommendations.