First things first… surely this post’s title makes you think of the song “This is how we do it”… (after you get your groove on, come back…) We actually sang this song in my high school showchoir. Cringe.
Second, this post is not about me teaching/clarifying/promising the best way to do family. This is simply about (a) things I’m noticing among families, (b) the way that we do things around here, and (c) sincerely asking you to chime in about things that work (or maybe even don’t work) for you/your family.
Third, I have said and thought “how does she do it?” Comparing? Guilty. Asking God to give me peace in my own story and role? Doing that too.
Fourth, I realize that this post is long and could be like 8 posts. I want to just cover parts of “My Story, My Song” and see what you chime in on. We’ll go from there…
I was dropping the McBabies off at the ChildWatch (childcare included in the membership) at the YMCA a few days ago. We simply needed a break from each other and we all needed to run around and burn some energy up and off. I signed them up for a 30 minute time there thinking that I could book it down to the pool to swim some laps, shower as quickly as possible, and sprint back in a
refreshing half hour. A friend walked up as I was checking them in. She saw me filling out the sign-in – McBaby #1 – age 5, McBaby #2 – age 3, McBaby #3 – age 1 and she said “How do you do it?!? I only have ONE!” While part of me felt victory that someone in this world wonders how I could possibly juggle what I juggle, my answer was simple – and true: ”Just like you do.” My life felt busy with one kid, and then with two, and now with three. Heck, it felt busy before kids. She signed her child in for 2 hours (the allowed time). I erased my 30 min and decided to do 75. Enough time to shower and check a few emails… and walk, not run, down the hallways.
(McBaby #3 toddling around the Y.)
Exercise is an important part of “how I do it”. I have sucked at it lately too. Then again, maybe I should cut myself some grace. Keeping up with all of the kids, taking them to the pool/zoo/museum/up/down-the-stairs/in/out-of-car/housekeeping/working/traveling/cooking/etc. is a work out in and of itself! I make time for a “real workout” a couple or few times a week. It’s maybe a walk, swimming laps, or the elliptical. I was hardcore into TurboKick and HipHopHustle for awhile – up until I was about 6 months preggers with McBaby #3. I thought I’d get back into it once we got into the school year/school groove. So, a month or so ago, I got to the gym in time for a particular class. Miracle of all miracles. I was waiting in the parking lot to pull into a spot and someone backed into me. DOH! No real car issue thankfully and everyone was fine, it just made me late for class. I had a vision at that moment… me walking into class, the teacher calling me out on mic (as she infamously does to folks… I know it’s for good reason like people should be there on time to properly warm up… yada yada yada, but still…), and then me walking up to the front, ripping the lav mic off of her head and saying “Listen _____________ (something potentially not nice or pretty), let me tell you what kind of productions had to take place for me to get here today?” I decided that I’m not in a “group-class-let’s-be-charged” kinda season right now. Gotta go to the Lord on this perhaps… I want to come to the Y (which, again is an AWESOME place), put in my ear buds or hear the sound of underwater loud/silent nothingness and be alone. So, what about YOU?
When it comes to food, we do a ton of cooking. Part of that is because the more I’ve read (and watched and tasted), the more we’ve tried to keep a rule of non-processed food. Real food. We have Green Bean Delivery for most of our produce and dry goods and it’s awesome for us. The groceries are literally delivered to our door (based on our order a few days ahead of time) and it is SOOO convenient. Local, organic, seasonal food is their specialty. Getting it to my porch is their other specialty. When we crunch the numbers for what we buy at, say, Whole Foods or Earth Fare, it’s cheaper or comparable. We don’t eat a lot of meat, but when we do, we get it at those great stores though – or sometimes Kroger has a good organic selection. I know lots of friends that are a part of CSAs, co-ops, or other groups that allow them to get organic food in bulk and divide it up at good prices. It’s possible that it could save me a few bucks, but add in gas for pick-ups/monthly drives to farms and being in group emails to sort it all out, I’m all about alleviating the hassle. Tell them we sent you if you’re interested in trying it out! (I’m not getting paid for this endorsement, I just seriously love it that much!!!)
The other reason I love cooking a lot is because it’s how I connected with my family growing up – especially my grandparents. We put our hands in the same flour, we counted the number of people we’d be feeding and measured accordingly, we created “somethings” out of miscellaneous parts, we dug in and ate together around the table. It is science, it is math, it is art, it is relationship. I still love having people over and at my table. I have a lot to learn in this area. While you can open my cupboard/fridge and see organic everything, essential oils, bags of cashews, cranberries and homemade granola, almond and/or raw milk, tons of produce, placenta pills (yes, you read that correctly), and plenty of other crunchy-people stuff, I’ve not ventured out into kefir, naets, or homemade cheese, among many, many, many other things. You??? What works for you, what doesn’t?
When it comes to Spiritual things, I am really trying to work on reading God’s Word consistently. I truly believe that the discipline will be a catalyst for remembering that the Bible is the good news. Growing up with it, sometimes it seems I need reminding that while I’ve read and/or memorized much of it, it is not sterile, it is still good and while it is familiar, it is always fresh and new. I’m great at reading books about spiritual matters, books about spiritual people, and books even about the bible, but a friend recently bought me a devotional that is helping me actually read the Bible itself. I pray that God strengthens my desire for it. You???
School… Refer to my caveats above so this isn’t a hot button topic. We started out in public school with Soren – the ice cream social, the girl scout info, the bus, the whole bit. Awesome school, awesome teacher, awesome principal. 3 weeks later, my non-traditional schedule (traveling/playing on a lot of weekends), Soren’s love of all things artistic, her need for much more sleep/rest than the average 5-yr-old, and her present capabilities as a quick study made me know in my gut that something needed to change if we were going to have any family time and keep her stimulated in the right ways for her. God provided the resources, openings, and open-mindedness needed to allow us to try homeschooling this year. It has been an amazing fit. I love it. She loves it. We are involved with a co-op that makes for the perfect hybrid of what we feel school should look like. People ask me – had you considered homeschooling before? Well, kind of… I mean, I’d considered it and consistently come back to one of the following thoughts: (1) “How do they do it with other kids at home? I’d love to be a fly on the wall!” (2) “I’m just not an organized, disciplined person. Plus, I have a strong noise aversion. I wouldn’t want to be with my kids ALL the time.” (3) “We are a missional family. My kids need to be the Light in the world. How will they socialize properly?” (4) “Homeschool families are weird. The bun, the skirts… oh wait, that’s my daily outfit… the natural-birthing (oops, me again), strange eating (um… wait…), bible-thumping/right-wing/conservative (so, not really us… I sometimes vote Rep and sometimes Dem in the presidentials – can’t we all just get along?!?)… they’re just weird, right?” (We own that we are weird for a myriad of reasons… #weirdmyriad #almostrhyme) I thought all of these things down to the week before enrolling McBaby #1 in her 2-full-day co-op. She is home 3 full weekdays and we go to the zoo, the museum, Conner Prairie, the Y, art studios, train stations, family’s/friends’ homes, church, other towns and states, or just stay home and hang, among other places. And ALL of those questions/thoughts above have different answers than I thought they would. I don’t know if you eat your words as often as I do, but, blech, they taste like liver and onions. I hate being wrong when I’ve standing on a soapbox… on top of a pedestal… with a megaphone… through a speaker system. Year by year is the way we’ll roll. Right now, this is awesome. And we have time for extra things – music lessons, sports, etc. You???
My husband would cringe that I’m listing keeping house as a category. I’m listing this because it is not my strong suit. I’ll spare you any pics. The downstairs stays pretty picked up, pretty clean… especially considering the trail-leaving minions of destruction that live here. We stay up on the dishes, the bathrooms, it’s the clothes that are my issue!!! I’m one of those daily-laundry people. I don’t know how people do it on one day, I really don’t. We don’t have a basement or laundry room, just a nice laundry closet. Well, unless you count our bedroom as the dumping ground for clean clothes as our laundry room. Or the living room where I would dump loads of clean laundry on the couch. UP UNTIL 4 WEEKS AGO! You see, first, about 6 months ago, I watched an episode of “Modern Family” where Cam and Mitchell were excited about lining some of their kitchen drawers. I decided to try that and they are so pretty now that I keep these drawers organized. (It took organizing them my color instead of function for it to stick…)
So, McHusband decided to take a ginormous risk and try to help me with cleaning said bedroom. I was in this terrible new habit (and I mean new as in – since I was about 6 years old) of putting everything from my bedroom that I can (clothes, baskets, other crap) on my bed and thinking I’ll organize it that day and then dumping it all on the floor come evening so that I can sleep in the bed. Problem #1: no path to the bed on my side. Problem #2: the clean laundry gets mixed in with
the dirty laundry everything else. Problem #3: it’s stressful for both of us. What kind of haven is this? So, walking on eggshells, like the teeny-tiny-blue-robin’s-egg kind, McHusband remembered those drawers. He took a day off of school while I was working at a studio. Only McBaby #3 was home and, while she napped, he reorganized my entire wardrobe. You’ve heard of wardrobe malfunction? This was wardrobe dysfunction. He organized everything the way an “artsy” person would do it. He brought his “gift of system” to my “gift of ?” and created a masterpiece that has actually worked for almost a month. This has never happened in our entire marriage – we’re going on 13 years. Round of applause, please. In my defense, we have a shboatload of laundry, we use all cloth napkins, no papertowel, cloth diapers, and cloth toilet paper. Just kidding on that last one. Ew. We also use PureWash – an eco-friendly, non-detergent-using, non-hot-water-necessary, fresh-rain smelling laundering system. It’s nice and simple and, we believe, pays off in the long run for us and for Mother Earth (“parent earth” for the politically correct). Enough with my defense, he hung an over-the-door-hooky-thingy for belts, a hanger-with-bar-whatchamacallit for skirts, a pull-out-drawer-divider-doodah with bathing suits, an in-closet-canvas-thingamabob-with-compartments for all the “unders”, and a “inside-the-door-fabric-hangy-pocketish-organizer for shoes. Genius man. Brave man. My mother said for years “save it to wash the car in” about clothing, so I still have a hard time cleaning out my closet… even though I faithfully go to Mike’s Car Wash… hmm… I gotta go to the Lord on that. Purging hurts. You???
Church and Sabbath are hard for me, I must admit. McHusband is a teacher, so weekdays are filled up and we work a lot of Sundays/weekends, so we don’t have a naturally built-in, consistent day where we can put a Sabbath. Plus, our roles at our church are volunteer. My role is often about 20+ hours a month and it is both a joy and a sacrifice for our family. We pay a babysitter for rehearsal times. We bring the McBabies along on Sundays and it’s a looooong day for them to be there from sometime 7:30am-ish to 1ish. They skip naps and come home starving. We haven’t figured out how to do this area very well. We know that we have a village to help us – our family, our church community – and it’s not every weekend, so we have just settled on this good-enough workability. I honestly don’t know what Sabbath looks like as a family though. I would LOVE to hear your thoughts on this. With children, we still must cook, discipline, clean – all the people with Gramnesia say to forget the housework, they’re only little for a short season. Well, if they didn’t need to eat, wear clothes, or poop, I totally would. Think I’m doing this for fun? I feel like I fall into a forced Sabbath, meaning that we go, go, go until I just get sick and crash and God is telling me that now I’m stuck to do nothing and let go. So, tell me…Sabbath/church/you???
Sleep is of the essence for us and requires an insane amount of self-control and discipline. McHusband gets up at 5am and works out faithfully 6 days a week. He’s missed maybe once this year and that was because he was ill. I had to convince him to stay in bed. I am a night owl, but our schedule does not allow for this type of frivolity. Our household must be on an earlier schedule if we’re going to have any post-kids adult time to hang together. And this is REALLLLLLY important to us to have 2-of-us-time. The McBabies get up around 6am. This makes many of you cringe. Tonight, though, they were all in bed at about 5:45pm. And 2 if not all 3 take daily naps. Nice how that works out, eh? (A small reward for the pain of waking up so darn early.) They are wonderful night-sleepers and nappers. It’s worth it, but I HAVE to say “Sarah, stop before your second wind and let your body calm down” while something down deep in me wants to stay up until the wee hours and sew, write, watch funny movies, say hi to Letterman, etc. I can only get attached to 1 or 2 shows a year so that I’m not even tempted to watch TV. Without enough sleep, I am a mess of a person. I’d have to take even more meds to survive… and I want to thrive, not just survive anyways. Sometimes I go to bed at 8:30 just to stay thriving. What do you do to try to get enough sleep? Do you even get enough? What could you do to change that, if anything?
When it comes to womanhood – things like fashion, shopping, adorning myself – we talk through budget and only spend about $40/month at the most on our whole family’s clothing TOTAL. We try to repurpose things, mend/patch tears, make things, shop at more inexpensive places, but I lust after awesome clothes. I try to keep my Anthropologie-drooling in check. I have more than enough. I have more than enough. I have more than enough! I get a haircut about once a year. About every other year I’ll go to a salon, but, otherwise, I go to a beauty college or a strip mall place. I did a DIY ombre yesterday. It’s the first time I’ve tried color in over a decade, probably. Just not part of our budget – or really a big desire anyways. I had a pedicure 2 summers ago. I’d like to go again – that’s actually important, I think? I had a massage and chiropractic appt today though. Picking and choosing. What do you think are have-to’s to maintain your health? Want-to’s? Forget-about’s?
(Me #1: the done up version that appears semi-weekly. Me #2: every other day.)
Work… oh a constant juggling act. Like many of you, my work overlaps my spiritual gift (craftsmanship and creative communication, says the most recent test), I believe. It overlaps my call, my talents, my hobbies, and my loves. I’m passionate about what I do. At the same time, I’ve never followed “the next big thing” craze very well, “keeping the hype up” thing, getting my social media to the “numbers” I’ve been advised, or chasing a dangling carrot. I’ve sat down with record labels, booking agents, and management companies and I’ve walked away stressed more often than not. There is a business side to what I do. Period. There just is. There is money involved and taxes and other things business-y. Simultaneously, God has opened doors every step of the way, allowed me to have growing opportunities through the years, and given me time to sit around the table at events and laugh and cry with people over our stories and His hand in them. Somehow I feel that He’s blessed all of that and allow me to keep doing this when I say “no” to things to put my family first the best way I know how. And that makes things feel less business-y. Do I wonder if “people” think I’m successful? If I “made it”? If I was “close, but never realized the dream?” Yes, I do. I have peace most of the time – I think I have the best job in the world to be with my amazing family daily and still be able to do what I love in such great places and have amazing experiences. But, sometimes, insecurity rears it’s ugly head and I feel irrelevant, unknown, past my prime, and just not good enough. This, too, must be taken to the Lord. It’s His call, His work that is most important. You???
This is how I do it (right now, that is.) Thank you for reading and, hopefully, chiming in! One more thing… there’s a lot of this going on… xoxo Sarah