When my twins were babies, I loved dressing them in coordinating outfits. I’d stick bows in their hair and make cute ponytails that stood straight up on the tops of their heads. When I’d take them out in the double stroller, people would always stop to admire them.
I could never figure out why people asked, “Are they girls or boys?” I wanted to say, “Why in the world would I dress them in pink and put bows in their hair if they’re boys?” But of course, I was always polite.
Yes, there were admirers I wanted to escort over to the Pearle Vision Store. But then, on the flip side, there were plenty who saw the enormity of my situation—especially because I also had my two-year old son tagging along. They would say, “You’ve got your hands full, don’t you?”
And, when I look back to those days of managing twin babies and an active two year old, I get dizzy thinking about how much work it was! At one point, with three children under two years of age, changing diapers was a full time job.
Somehow through all the craziness, I survived. I even went on to have two more children. And now, whenever I go anywhere with my whole gang, invariably someone will say, “How do you handle five children?”
When they find out that not only do I have five kids, but that I homeschool AND am a full time writer with multiple books releasing, their incredulous tone rises in pitch as they stammer, “What? How can you possibly do all of that?”
So, how does one manage multiple responsibilities? (Without going crazy?)
It’s not easy. I’m the first to admit it. I won’t pretend my life is bliss.
But managing multiple responsibilities is NOT an impossibility. One of the lessons I’ve learned about juggling a lot of different demands is this: We have to ease our way in to more.
Here’s what I mean:
1. Start at the beginning.
I didn’t start with five kids all at once. I began with one. Over the first couple of years, I became comfortable learning how to be a mom to one child. When I became confident and efficient with him, only then did I think about adding another. I’d learned the ropes and was ready for more responsibility.
And I didn’t start with a big house full of possessions. When I was first married, we lived in an tiny apartment with mismatched used furniture. Eventually we accumulated more stuff and moved to a very small starter home. Only when we were more established did we think about buying a larger home that could accommodate our growing family.
My point is that in whatever we’re doing, we need to start at the beginning. It’s easy to look at those who have more, do more, or are further along than we are, and to think we need to be like them. In those situations, we need to remember that once upon a time, they too had to start at the beginning.
2. Move forward in small increments.
The first year I was married, I could hardly boil water without burning it. And yet, for my first Thanksgiving I attempted a huge dinner for my brother and a friend. Guess how it turned out?
You’re right. It was a disaster! I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. In the end, I had to saw half-frozen meat off the carcass and cook the slabs in the microwave. We ended up having a few scarce pieces of rubbery turkey with our lukewarm and gravy-less mashed potatoes.
Now after twenty years of marriage, thankfully, I can whip a large Thanksgiving meal together with no problem. But it’s taken years and years of growing in cooking skills to get to the point of being able to do that.
We can’t skip over all of the valuable steps that come in the learning process. We have to take each baby step in progression. And we shouldn’t expect to handle the work of a seasoned veteran if we’re not one.
3. Let the new responsibilities challenge us to grow.
Over the years, I’ve had to adjust with each new responsibility. I’ve had to make sacrifices, stop certain hobbies, or let go of activities to make room in my life for the additions.
There are times when we add more responsibility to our lives that we’ll have to let go of something else. We can’t keep adding and adding without taking other things away—or else we’ll get to the point where we’ve crammed too much in and are ready to break.
However, if we gradually add more, we can stretch ourselves a little bit with each new responsibility. Our hearts, minds, and bodies will slowly grow stronger and better able to cope with the weight and pressures of what we’re adding.
Summary: There you have it! Ease your way into more—one of my secrets for how I manage multiple responsibilities.
Okay, so anyone else want to admit to a flopped Thanksgiving dinner? 🙂 How do you juggle all of your responsibilities? What are your secrets? Do tell!
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