Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Q&A: How Do You Do It?

I get questions like this often.
"So, can you tell me how you do it? :) how you manage to be a mother/raise children, grow more than a quick, average garden, read more books than many mothers manage to get around to, make all sorts of delicious recipes, and who knows how many other pursuits you have...home decorating? Sewing, canning, cleaning..."- Karissa
In the past I wrote about How to Do It All - the answer to my frustrations to not getting everything done that I wish.

I really don't do everything, even if it looks like it. Blogging can give a distorted picture of life. Like every other mom, I have to put food on the table. I just snap a picture of it (my children say that I take far too many pictures of food). And occasionally I pull out one of those photos and type up the recipe to share with all of you blog friends. But I hate to think that I might contribute to your discouragement because of blogging.

Every mom is busy. I don't think I do anything more than most moms, I just write about it, and somehow that makes it appear like more. Like everyone else, including you, I wake up in the morning and do one thing, and then one more, and on through the day. I don't get nearly everything done that I wish. My to-do list is never all checked off. But with one thing at a time, something gets done. At the end of the day I read a few pages and somehow those few pages turn into books by the end of the year.

One thing at a time. Or as Elisabeth Elliot used to say "Do the next thing."

Of course there is many other facets. We all have seasons of life. We all have times when even the bare necessities of life are hard to accomplish, when even putting a meal on the table looks like an impossibility.

Also our background and training make a huge impact on our present lives.

I grew up in a large farming family. As the oldest daughter I had the experience of cooking vast amounts of food, doing huge piles of laundry, and canning bushels of tomatoes. I learned many shortcuts and today I can fly through a pile of ironing, zip through sewing a dress, and cook a meal while holding a baby.

Maybe you had to start from scratch at learning homemaking skills. Give yourself a break and don't fall into the comparison trap. And waiting behind that is the Perfectionist Trap.

I heard an older mom say that she was a good plodder. She was a talented woman with a many children who accomplished a huge amount. But she didn't have any secrets, she only said that she as a good plodder. Every morning she woke up, put one foot in front of another, and moved through her day. With years of faithfully, day after day, showing up, doing one thing at a time, the results are amazing.

Plodding might not sound exciting. But I have seen its effectiveness. 

Next I'll share what I do NOT do. And my secret sanity saver.

So how do you do it? Have any secrets to share with us? Do you think blogging gives a false view of life? How can we guard from comparing ourselves with others? (If I'm going to answer your questions - then I'll ask you some as well.)

28 comments :

  1. I do it by plodding...but I also do NOT do many things. I have piles, laundry un-done (my family is trained to tell me they are "almost out" of something), I use mainly only simple, basic meals like stews, casseroles, etc., I rarely bake (mainly just special occasions), my oldest child does a lot of independent homeschooling, I try to get the kids to be trained and then they help with chores as they are old enough, and I try to pack as much cleaning as I can into one day and then the rest of the week I just do the basic things like dishes and sweeping and tidying and wiping the bathroom counter etc. My house is very lived-in.

    I think that blogging does give an unrealistic view of things so I try to remember that (not many moms blog about the moment they locked themselves in the bathroom and cried, or stood on the front porch taking deep breaths, or that something went moldy in the laundry hamper, or they burned a pot because they forgot to put water in and turned it on to "boil"...all things I have done (some more than once!). I do think its good to read about other moms though, especially in today's age when there are not many homemakers around (at least where I live).

    I also think it DOES have a lot to do with training as a child (I was not trained in this at all) and health of the individual or family members (eg. does the mother struggle with depression or does a child have a disability etc)?

    I also think it has to do with how much help or encouragement is offered from other women (or the husband etc) in the mother's life. For example some people live close to family, sisters, sister-in-laws, mother-in-laws, have women at church that are homemakers and have time to come over, etc. and some of us have very limited amounts of that, if any.

    Sometimes though I have to stop reading mothering-style blogs for a while, and that is okay too. I do find your blog overall very encouraging and I enjoy reading it. :)

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    1. I heartily agree with what you shared. Thanks so much!
      Gina

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  2. I am excited to read what NOT to do :) The only way I can do it is if my husband brings my laptop to work with him. Sadly, I would be logging on every 15 minutes to look up a new recipe, figure out how something is done, ect... 6 hours later I am very short with my children, nothing is done (not even the recipe I looked up!) and my husband is about to walk in the door.

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    1. I wish I could say that I'm not tempted with misuse of the computer - but that wouldn't be true. It is constantly a challenge and I fail often.
      Thanks for your honesty.
      Gina

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  3. I tend to be a pendulum that swings back and forth on the productivity line. One day, I'll get up early and write a list of things to do that day (part 1 of "The Key" to a good day) and read my scriptures (part 2 of "The Key"). When I do those things, the day flies by and I seem to get things done. Then there are other days that knocks it out of whack (baby up all night so I sleep in, didn't make a list, or felt I had too much to do to read). Those days come and I get NOTHING done. It's back and forth, but I keep trying and keep moving.
    I, too, have to take a break from blogs at times. One, to keep my expectations in check and two, to spend that time getting things done instead of reading about getting things done. :)
    I enjoy your blog and admire the way that you humbly go about serving your family and the Lord. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can be that pendulum too. And I try to be okay with the fact there that will be days that I get off track. But that doesn't mean I can't try again tomorrow!
      Blessings,
      Gina

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  4. Oh my gosh this is a wonderful post and so needed for so many! I think blogging DOES give a distorted view of life and only a glimpse of what a life is all about. That picture of the wonderful meal set before a family doesn't show the mountain of dishes erupting out of the sink. The ironing you just zipped through is only part of what is hanging on the back of the chairs. When the garden is in full bloom, the laundry may not be completely done. I try to remember that a blog post is only a snapshot of what that person's life really contains and that every person's priorities are different. I also try to remember that your circumstances are different than mine. I am starting fresh and new at all this, while being a single mom, in a later stage in life and working a full time job. I CAN'T do all that you do, but I can do PART of what you do. So thank you very much for showing me little bits and pieces of the wonderful life so I can improve mine in some small way! :) Hugs!

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    1. Thanks so much for understanding what I was trying to say! I often say that I can only do one or two things well. If I make a special meal - it probably means I didn't finish laundry. If I cleaned up the house good - I didn't have time to read to my children.

      In other words, I'm not Super Woman - and probably no one else is either! Let's encourage each other!
      Gina

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  5. Ah yes. What a good post. Today I needed to remember to keep plodding. Thanks.

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  6. I came back to read the comments (mine was the first one). I agree with what you say later on down the comments, Gina...its true we can only do one or two things well and that the other things aren't done. Its funny though since that one or two things that got done are probably the ones you (or other bloggers) chose to photograph or read about. No one really needs to know how to leave a pile of laundry for another day or how to not do the dishes before going to bed or leave the floor washing for another week etc. since we already know how to do that :).

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    1. So true! If you saw the toys on my living room floor right now, you wouldn't think I'm a homemaker worth copying.
      Gina

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  7. I think blogging can distort reality. And that is probably why I read some blogs and don't read others!
    This is a very real blessing to me to do each day what God wants me to do, to the best of my ability (yes, failing, also!) and then look at others with the
    things that they do and don't do with the same security in Christ.
    1 Cor. 10:12 is such an encouragement to me... "...but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise."!!!
    I think it's great what you do here. I am often encouraged. And I'm blessed to know you a little bit in real life, and can see that you are a normal person!
    I guess that's what I always figure, when things might look picture perfect on a blog, or other places, I know there is a real person behind it.... someone who has good days and bad, successes and failures! Same as me!

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  8. Thanks so much Gina. I have enjoyed reading your blog and have learned so very much. I work full time as a nurse and my wonderful husband and I have two teenage daughters. Meals, cleaning, laundry, church, work, paying bills - and the list goes on - is all very time consuming and I have lived long enough (49 years) to realize that being productive and accomplishing tasks at home can be interrupted by forces that our outside of my control....let's say the flu, school activities, etc. I am so thankful that God gives grace and that a joyful heart in the midst of a messy house is a beautiful gift. My goal is to serve my family with a neat and tidy home, however when forces outside of my control intervene....it is good to smile and laugh!!! This has taken me time to learn. I do try and focus on daily chores that are really ingrained habits. I do not leave your blog feeling that you are perfect but rather am encouraged by your honesty and wisdom. May God bless you as your serve your husband and children. Appreciatively!!!

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  9. I love it!

    Plodding on each day...
    Plodding every day...
    We shall come rejoicing,
    Plodding all the way!!

    Thanks for your humility and transparency, Gina. And thanks for
    sharing the it's okay, some days are like that, concept of plodding!

    Keep on ploddin' (in the vein of back-in-the-day "truckin') *wink*

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  10. I like this post :) Reminds me of the tortoise an the hare. Plodding will eventually get you somewhere :) Sometimes I do think blogs can make you feel like you are not as ambitious, creative, etc. as the next person, but on the other hand, I don't think it's always the best thing to talk about all the negative parts of your day either. Blessings to you as you fulfill your duties as a wife and mother!

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  11. Another great topic! I agree with other posters, that upbringing and current lifestyle have an awful lot to do with our housekeeping and home making skills..or the lack there of!
    I;m a Grandma and have only just begun leaning to garden, sew, can and make bread,
    I work a full time job in town, and at my age of 61, I'm utterly and completely exhausted at the end of the long work day. Most of my new endeavors are attempted on the weekends.
    I have learned to make 2 or more loaves of bread on the weekend, which lasts about 2 weeks...and... I LOVE bringing loaves of homemade bread-from-scratch to my co-workers!!
    So though my life and my home are very different from Ms.Gina's, I love Home Joys.and adapt the things I learn to fit my own world.
    I do love that Home Joys is written from a Godly, Joyful perspective, and is well balanced I feel. I recall tales of children with the flu, a washing machine that quit, a toddler having a melt down, and other reminders that making a beautiful loaf of bread is one precious victory in the midst of spilled milk and a clogged sink!
    As Lori in TX might say, lets keep on ploddin' and bloggin' ladies! Even my co-workers are benefiting!

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    1. Thanks Grandma Ruth. I love to hear the wisdom of the elders!
      Gina

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  12. I am a Plodder, too, I think. I agree with you that things done sound like more when written about on a blog. People keep saying they are amazed at how much Hubs and I get done, especially at our ages, but it just sounds that way. When we have a project going on, we may only work on it for a few hours. But we try to be diligent with it and do a few hours every day. It adds up and keeps us from getting overwhelmed and stallling out.

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  13. I enjoyed this post! My thoughts took a different spin with it. Your question "Does blogging give a false view of life?" stood out to me. I believe we should think seriously about this. I believe blogging makes it easy for us to portray ourselves as the person we want others to think we are. Especially if they never see our everyday Christian walk! Do my family, friends, and church family see a different person than my blogging friends see? What is wrong when I feel safer and more comfortable with people who don't see me than the people who I rub shoulders with everyday? I'm not pegging you, Gina. Not at all. Your post helped me sort out my thoughts. :) Consistency is something that brings my to my knees over and over again, and I need to remind myself to try to BE like Christ with my hands and feet and not just SOUND like Him through my fingertips.

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    1. You are asking some great questions. Thank you. I believe we will be held accountable for the way we use social media. May we guard all our words - written or spoken.
      Gina

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  14. Wow, Gina, this is something close to my heart and I love your answer to this question. Yes, blogging can give a distorted picture of life, and I must admit there have been many times where I have seen something on the internet and wondered how on earth people do all that they seem to do. Being a recovered perfectionist, I intentionally strive for balance in how I present myself to others. If all else fails, we can all start posting pictures of our dirty floors and laundry pile. ;)
    Thank you for sharing this, and saying what you said.

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  15. Very interesting article and comments. I am a quilter and other quilters have asked how I get so much done. My answer is to do a little almost every day. Even some days when I don't feel enthused about something I'm working on, I go down to my sewing room and just do a little. Even ironing and putting away fabric makes me feel like I accomplished something. I also try not to fall into the habit of watching too much television; it just makes me crabby in the end. Your children's childhood years will fly by--don't worry about picking up the toys on the floor, get down on the floor and enjoy playing with them!! :)

    Lorraine

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  16. I think blogging definitely can give a false view of life. Chances are no one actually shows all the areas of life. I remember a friend telling me I must have excellent time management skills after she read a post I had written about a sewing project. I had to tell her that on the days when I focused on sewing, there were dirty dishes in my sink and unfolded laundry sitting on my couch, or some such equivalent of unfinished housekeeping. Or if I am baking a lot of good things, then chances are I haven't been doing any sewing. When it's time to garden, baking and sewing don't happen much, etc. If one thing gets done, then another is left undone. I don't blog often, but I keep thinking that it would be good to post pictures of the undone messes around me whenever I post something that is finished and looks good. But since I don't have a smart phone, and I have little patience to upload photos from my camera, I don't end up posting many pictures at all! :) (I haven't read all the other comments, but I'm sure some one else has said similar things - none of us can do it all and find time to blog about it!) That said, I really enjoy your blog. I grew up in a Mennonite family and still consider myself a Mennonite, but there are no Mennonite churches - similar to our conference - very close to where my husband and I live, so connection with other Mennonites is all the more cherished.

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  17. P.S.
    Most of us who grew up watching television, know that if we want our children to focus and get something done, the TV has to be turned off. I turned off the TV permanently when my own children were in grade school. There is no television in my home, but my Grandaughter is exposed to TV wherever she goes. She and I, just today, created a study schedule for her, asking other Grandparents and care takers such as Aunties, to please arrange a quiet study time away from television during study time. Glad to say my girl was quite onboard with this project. My point is that even as adults, we generally accomplish so much more when there is no television to distract and lull us into complacency. I speak from experience! Those of us who have turned TV off, as far as I can tell, are unanimously shocked at what we DO see on TV, (in the waiting room mostly) and find even internet ads and commercials distracting at best, and vulgar at worst. Try weaning off of TV and I think you will see that people are generally more productive without it.

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    1. We don't have TV either - but I find that the internet/cell/etc can be just as much of a distraction. It takes discipline to turn off distractions and focus on the task I'm called to do. It is easy to procrastinate - especially a disliked task - when there are many distractions.
      Gina

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  18. Interesting post and a very good question. I don't know that blogging is a realistic view of our lives but I'm not sure most of us put it out there as such. As I look back on my life (I'm 59, youngest is 26, middle is 28, oldest is 32) I remember days when my husband would come home from work and ask innocently "what did you guys do today?" and I would rack my brain and say "I don't know, but I was busy all day!" I suspect we all have those days. I wonder if the act of blogging makes us more aware of what we are doing and maybe thinking about a post helps us to keep track of our activities. Not sure, just a thought. I have a refrigerator magnet that says "we can't both look good it's me or the house"! That magnet is right next to the one that says "please Lord keep your arm around my shoulders and your hand over my mouth!" I enjoy reading your blog and the comments of the other ladies, this was a very good question.

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  19. Dear Gina, you are truly an amazing work of the Lord and an inspiration to so many of us. I do not have 'prayer time' per say. I pray constantly, throughout the day--an ongoing conversation with the Lord--praise, repentance, GRATITUDE, and supplication--for others and myself. This helps me get through the busy day.

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    1. I'm afraid if you lived with me - you would not think me so amazing. But you are right that anything good is a work of the Lord!
      Gina

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I'm still learning how to be a joyful homemaker and I'd love to hear from you!

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