Over time I have lost count of how many times I have had someone say to me "I don't know how you do it all".
Until now, I have always just thought to myself, well I just do! But lately I have been thinking more about it and I realise it isn't something I just do, but a conscious choice that I have made in life and therefore there is a 'how' to it.
This isn't some smug post where I will tell you how easy it is. It ruddy isn't. But it is possible. Oh, and don't be thinking I have this perfect way of getting everything done all of the time because trust me, there are times where I get it wrong and bugger it up. For instance, this is my first blog post in ruddy ages. Why? Because I haven't given myself enough time to sit and type them. BOOM.
I have always been someone who likes to be organised. I am a bit of a mish mash at times because I also love to be spontaneous. My love of organisation comes from how that makes me feel. For me, if my home and work are organised and tidy, then my brain is organised and tidy and can function better. Acknowledgement of this fact has been step one for me on the path to 'doing it all'. I always felt safe at my Grandmother's house. It was always immaculate and clean, but homely. That is why I function well in a clean and tidy but homely house.
So what do people mean when they say "I don't know how you do it all"? I have a tendency to forget how much I do cram in to my weeks/life and therefore dismiss the phrase 'all'. But recently my thinking about this has led me to think about what that really means. All; well in my life that means being a foster carer, being secretary of the running club that my husband and I belong to, being an artist and working full time, running our home, living with my husband who has high functioning but also high scoring Aspergers, raising money and awareness for different charities, campaigning about mental health, supporting our friends and family however I can, taking care of our animals, go running, do activities as a family, play piano....the list is probably longer but let's just go with that.
Some of those things probably don't sound that exhausting or time consuming. For instance, I expect most people think being a foster carer should be pretty much like being a parent, but just with children that are not yours. But the reality is that those children often need a lot of support and reassurance which equals time. There will be contact sessions, medical appointments, educational appointments, review meetings, social worker visits and monthly and daily report writing to undertake. Contact sessions alone can take up 7 hours of my week at least with travelling and waiting.
People will probably be wondering why I have listed living with my husband. I know, we all have to live with them if we have them - or our partner. But living with a high scoring, high functioning autist is not always easy. I have to say that it is one of the parts of my life I haven't yet really talked about - mostly because people automatically think that all men are autists when you start to explain and then they miss the finer intricacies of what it means. It's a whole other blog post, so to put it in a short version let's just say for arguments sake that the sensory difficulties and emotional aspects can mean that things take longer than they should or are more wearing.
The rest of my activities are all pretty self explanatory really.
So how do I fit it all in? I decided to do a bit of research to help me with this bit of the blog. To me the 'things' started to become glaringly obvious as soon as I started to research what people use their time to do, so here it is - my list of how to 'DO IT ALL'
1. Planning is key. If you really want to achieve all the things you want then firstly you need to know what they are and have a loose plan of how you might achieve them. No business runs well without a business plan and although life can be pretty awesome unplanned, if you're really sure on the stuff you want to do, then planning will help. I'm not necessarily talking about writing a 50 page document on what you will do at each stage of life, but having a list of sorts is helpful. Lists are amazing! Even if you don't stick to it, it is a great reminder of the things you wanted at that point - and remember your wants and wishes change as you experience more of life so that list is TOTALLY flexible. Jacob and I plan the meals we will have each week. It takes us about 10 minutes with the cook books. You can save on cooking time by using fab books like Joe Wickes Lean in 15 which has lots of quick to make meals that are really healthy. I then have a shopping list which means that my grocery shopping time is halved when I go and whizz round for just the things I need.
2. You're never too old to do things. Many people give up on hopes or dreams because they feel they should have done it younger. One of my dreams will be achieved when I am older because I will have more time to dedicate to it. I don't see this as failing at it. Just doing it when it will be right to.
3. Prioritise. Not just your plans but yourself. Don't be afraid to take the time for you. When we neglect ourselves, we lose a sense of who we are and slowly but surely we can slip further and further away from ourselves. I did this for years. It sucked.
4. Ask me about the latest TV show that everyone has been watching. Go on. Chances are that I won't know what it is. Decide what is more important to you. Jacob and I will sit and make our lists and then look at things we have been doing that are less important and whether we need to evaluate which one should be more important. Often it's a case of cutting down television time and using that wisely. With the advent of catch up television and packages like Amazon, it is easy to watch things when you do have time. The average person spends 2.85 hours a day watching television. That's just under 20 hours in a week.
5. Love yourself. Now I am still learning how to love myself, but I have learned to care less about what other people think when they look at me. I grew up believing I was the ugly duckling and am still pretty coy about even liking how I look (I like my legs, they're pretty good legs for a bigger person but that's pretty much where the list ends). Do you realise that all the advertising out there tell us that we need x, y and z makeup products to make us beautiful? That our belief of what makes us beautiful is skewed by this advertising. We all believe it. Hell I have even bought a product before now thinking it would improve me somehow. But it's marketing and marketing is out there to make you believe these things so that companies will make money. Let me tell you this now. It is something wonderful about the autist husband I have. He tell me this a lot. You don't need makeup. You ARE beautiful without it. And by learning this you can save yourself on average 6.5 hours a week!!! That's almost a whole working day. I am someone who literally wears make up for special occasions. I look like a completely different person with it because people aren't used to it.
Don't get me wrong, I don't leave the house with a tangled birds nest and a face like a slapped arse. I do brush my hair and style it as such, but I don't beat myself up about making sure I look perfect, because I have come to realise that there are more important things. Right now I am not a millionaire with the resources to have someone make me look beautiful and manage all the other things, so it's one of the things I let go. You know I love a bright and wonderful hair colour, but life is such at the moment that it isn't up there on my list of things I can do, so it waits until it is.
6. Exercise. What the hell Bon! Yup. Do it. Honestly. Exercise will stop you feeling like you don't have the energy to do it all. Seriously. I'm not kidding. Even if it is just a brisk half hour walk in the morning, do it. It sets the tone for the day and gives you the boost you need. Lots of lovely endorphins swooshing around your system and giving you the positivity to tackle it all.
7. Treat yourself. So, apparently the average woman spends around £70,000 on making herself look pretty in her lifetime. That is around £1400 per year. I would estimate that due to my lack of applying makeup mine is more like £400 per year if I am lucky. So I save around £1000. Now I get teased by some friends for having a cleaner and using a gardener during the summer. But people who have cleaners and gardeners aren't necessarily posh or rich as social stereotypes would suggest. It just allows me to have the time to do the 'things'. I still do household chores but I save approximately 4.5 hours of my time per week by investing some of what I save in a cleaner. You can achieve a lot in 4.5 hours. The time is worth more than the money it costs and that is an important part of the balance.
8. Scare yourself every day. People assume that I am some outgoing, crazy individual who loves life large and would do anything. People couldn't be more wrong. I am crazy. We all know that. But I am not outgoing in the least bit. I do love life. But, I am an introvert. Yup. No lie. A total introvert. I am an introvert who just so happens to be passionate about some stuff in life and so forces herself to come out of her shell and do her thing and then allows herself to hibernate again. It scares me constantly, but once I do the 'things' I realise how much I get from it and so I force myself to do stuff more. I need downtime and quiet time so I can hideaway and recover, but it is so worth scaring yourself to achieve your dreams.
9. Limit your social media interaction. I was a bugger for this. then, 3 years ago I made the decision to cut back. I decided that I would share far less and interact more in the 'real world'. It's not just about the time it takes, but also what it can do to us mentally. People often only share what they think others want to see of their life rather than the reality and this can lead to a very negative impact. A couple of friends have come off social media entirely and I have to say if it wasn't for business and connecting with some ladies from the fertility treatment years then I probably would too. I used to spend so long documenting life - and don't get me wrong, some of my journey it was important to do that, but now I find myself enjoying meeting up with people more because I have more to say! God knows how much time you can save with this one but I bet it is loads!
10. Don't beat yourself up. If you 'fall off the wagon' so to speak and have a week where you achieve bugger all, see it as an opportunity to recharge and then get back on it. It's not the end of the world, it's just a chance to reevaluate and move forward. Every day is a school day!
There is no right or wrong way of doing this. My tips are just things that I have found have helped me to get the most out of this life.