How do you do it all?

Sometimes people ask me, “How do you do it all?” The short answer is “I don’t.” There are a lot of areas in my life that I ought to work on, and end up leaving undone or half-done. A funny but true story — once I was talking to one of my email friends who I met when we were pregnant and planning a homebirth the same time. This was probably several months after the births, and I said something in an email about needing to lose my baby weight (which I still need to do, btw — and my “baby” is three!), and the subject of the conversation was something about breastfeeding, and possible factors in breastfeeding problems. Anyway, I mentioned that my blonde-haired, blue-eyed, fair-skinned sister-in-law thought that perhaps one reason she had trouble breastfeeding was perhaps somehow due to her being blonde or fair-skinned, and perhaps that had something to do with it. Well, this email friend who had of course never seen me quickly responded with a mixture of disbelief and relief, because she assumed that I was a model of perfection — a tall, leggy blonde who lost the pregnancy weight easily. Ha! I laughed for a long time over that one! She was very relieved to find out that she wasn’t “the only one” who had trouble taking off baby weight. I’m not sure where she got the idea that I might be blonde, though. Nor the “tall” bit. I tell that story because sometimes people form impressions that are not necessarily entirely accurate of me when reading my writing. There is a lot I leave unsaid, so although I don’t lie, you’re only seeing one facet of me. It is my most presentable side, though! 🙂 So, when people ask, “How do you do it all,” it makes me a little uncomfortable, as if they think I do something extraordinary, and I don’t think I do. Or if I do, then it’s because there are other things I leave undone (for instance, I really don’t like washing dishes, and usually leave that until the last thing), and perhaps I ought to focus more on other things. But I enjoy this blog very much. Some people do scrapbooks; some build model airplanes; some go golfing — there are all sorts of pastimes and hobbies that one can choose to do. I blog.

One thing that I do differently from just about everyone else I know, is that we don’t have a TV in our home. This means that I’m not tempted to turn it on “for just a minute while I’m folding laundry” and then end up sitting there for an hour, involved in some TV show or other. Most everybody I know has regular shows that they watch — whether American Idol, Lost, 24, Are You Smarter than a Fifth-Grader, Biggest Loser, House, or any number of other shows. I don’t know how long the average person watches TV during any given week, but I’m sure it adds up. I’m also sure that I am probably at the computer longer than you watch TV — it’s my “time-waster,” my hobby. I probably spend way too much time on the computer, but it allows me to read a lot of interesting and sometimes downright fascinating things when I’m not doing something else.

Secondly, I don’t work outside the home, which means that generally, I am at home with access to a computer, so I can squeeze in an odd 5 minutes here or an hour there for anything from checking email to reading blogs and catching up on the news to writing blog posts. (Of course, sometimes that “five minutes” stretches into much longer periods of time, and [see the first paragraph about leaving stuff undone] I end up putting the kids off for a story [“just give me five more minutes, please?!”] or refilling water cups or going outside, because I get in the middle of reading or writing something. Again, something that doesn’t usually translate into my writing, although sometimes I can go back and read posts I’ve written and they feel… “clunky”… like I was distracted or something. And I probably was! I don’t know if others pick up on it, or if it’s just me. Obviously, it’s not something I shout from the rooftops: “Hey, I think this thing I wrote is sub-par! What do you think?”)

Third, Google Scholar. It really deserves its own point, because I use it so much! I can’t always find what I’m looking for, but I don’t know of a better way to limit an internet search to only scholarly articles. Sometimes it takes a little bit of finagling to get exactly what you’re looking for — “stillbirth” might also be labeled as “fetal demise,” “intrapartum death,” or “IUFD” (intrauterine fetal demise); likewise if you’re looking up information about miscarriages, you’ll need to look up “abortion” and “spontaneous abortion,” because of the more scholarly words many research articles use that are different from common or vernacular terms. If I had access to medical libraries and journals, Scholar might not be as important; but as it is, it can answer some questions for me in a matter of minutes. Unfortunately, so many of the studies are restricted to subscribers only (or you can purchase the article, or a 24-hour access to the article, “for the low, low price of $34.99!”), but the abstracts are almost always free. Unfortunately, you are then at the mercy of the accuracy of the researchers in their conclusions, and can’t look for flaws in the studies themselves… but it’s better than nothing. A couple of exceptions spring to mind, and these include the British Medical Journal, which has free access to all its articles (which is one reason that Dr. Johnson and Ms. Daviss published the CPM home-birth study in the BMJ), and the BJOG, which has free access to all its articles that are three years old or older — you have to sign up for access, but at least it’s free. And sometimes you’ll find a study in other publications that give you the full-text for free, which is always cool.

The remaining items are probably in no particular order of importance, but,
* I enjoy reading, and read fast.

* I type fast, too, albeit with far too many mistakes, which take longer to backtrack and correct.

* I think a lot. My “down-time” is usually filled with thinking about things I’ve read, and mentally composing posts (like this one). A lot of posts have been thought out and practically written in my mind, while I was doing laundry, washing dishes, watching the kids in our little blow-up pool, etc. Then, when I sit at the computer, I just type what I had previously thought out. So it goes pretty fast. (Sometimes, though, I have some pretty darn good posts that I forget before I get back to the computer. And that makes me mad.)

* I read a lot of blogs — Google Reader keeps me sane! 🙂 Since it checks the blogs for me, I can see at a glance if there are any new posts, and can choose which one(s) to read in the time I have. Or which ones I feel like reading.

* A lot of the posts don’t take much time to write. This one is one of the longer ones; obviously the ones that require research and looking up studies take much longer. But a lot of the posts take maybe 5-10 minutes to write, or even less — a link to a video, other blog post, or some article or study that was brought to my attention, courtesy of the many blogs I read. [I do try to give attribution when I blog about something I’ve read from another blog, but fail sometimes. Sometimes I’ll open articles in new tabs/windows for future reading, and then by the time I finally read it or blog about it, I’ve completely forgotten who originally linked to it.] As I read things I want to blog about, I’ll try to do a quick post right then (and schedule it for a future day), or perhaps just a draft to be completed when I have more time or mental energy to devote to it. Many times I’ll write on the weekends, and do very little blogging during the week. Or I might have some free time before my kids wake up in the mornings for some guilt-free time on the computer.

*I’m a World of Warcraft “widow,” which means that my husband doesn’t care how much time I’m spending on the computer, as long as he’s also playing. I’ve heard that WoW is the most addictive computer game — do any of you play? are any of you also “WoW widows”? If so, you understand! He’s probably one of the more moderate ones — he told me about somebody he came across on the game has something like 50 characters, or something crazy like that; so a few hours a day during his summer vacation isn’t too much. I mean, it’s not like he’s in his mother’s basement playing 20 hours a day.

*My kids play well together, so I don’t have to spend a large portion of my time entertaining them or refereeing fights. They are old enough that I don’t have to hover over them constantly; but young enough that I don’t have to homeschool them yet. [I am teaching them some stuff already, but I don’t have a schedule at all — just try to teach them what they’re ready and eager to learn.]  So, if the kids are happy and content playing by themselves, and the laundry is in the washer, and the mess isn’t too overwhelming, I find it easy to get on the computer for a few minutes with some frequency throughout the day.


3 Responses

  1. YOu are so right! The answer is, you don’t. I was young enough to remember women’s magazines in the 80’s that did portray that we were expected to have it all. What that really meant was doiing it all. Which of course is no bargain.

    My trajectory from women’s magazines told me I was suppose to attend 4 years of college. Obtain fiscal security by myself in a high paying job working 60 hours a week and have 2.5 children. WTF?

    I mean that is tough being a bald gay man with a weight issue. No wonder I turned to a life of crime?

  2. Oh yeah and the damn magazine never did tell you how you were suppose to achieve this sh1t.

  3. Kathy,
    I think we are twins separated at birth. 😉
    I did not know about Google Scholar, that is awesome. Also I am not a WoW widow, but my DH does work a lot at night.
    I have a TV, but only watch 1 hour a night with my DH while he works.
    I always enjoy your well thought out posts. I know who to go to if I need some research done.

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