Spinning Top Mom: I can’t do it all

(Last Updated On: May 9, 2017)

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It’s time to come clean. I can’t do it all. When I try, I feel like a spinning top, twirling out of control. I can’t do it all, and I quit trying.

Are you a Spinning Top Mom? Trying to “do it all”?

Over mugs of coffee, we’ll all nod in agreement, “of course, we can’t do it all.”

But secretly, I always think, ‘but I could be doing this better, why can’t I do what that mom does? I’m a total failure at this.’

Over mugs of coffee, we'll all nod in agreement, "of course, we can't do it all." But secretly, I always think, 'I'm a total failure at this.'

And, even though we know Pinterest is a liar, we’ll still use that measuring stick to beat ourselves over all the things we can’t do.

Even though we know Pinterest is a liar, we use that measuring stick to beat ourselves up. Click To Tweet

Depending on the day, I probably present a pretty together, homeschooling, Godly mom picture, but that picture crops out the gory details.

A load of laundry has been in the dryer for three days. It is 1 p.m. and I’ve only eaten two peach slices from my daughter’s plate, and we’re probably ordering pizza for dinner.

A load of laundry has been in the dryer for three days. We're probably ordering pizza. Spinning top mom: I can't do it all!

I’ve spent an hour trying to get her to finish coloring a shape worksheet.

Some days I multi-task well, but something always has to give. I cannot make a Pinterest worthy craft, write a deep blog about mothering and faith, provide three healthy meals, clean the house, exercise (and shower again), check the mail, water the plants, have quiet time with God, lesson plan, pay the bills, etc., etc. all in one day. Something has to give – everyday.

Maybe, it’s time to really get okay with that.

Tonight, we really did order pizza because I had two repairmen in the house all afternoon. We’re all sick with a cold. I’m trying to find the groove of homeschooling. I spent too much time explaining “I don’t want to!” is not a valid excuse. It was far from a perfect day.

But when I put my daughter to bed, I asked her what she learned today. She answered, “respect, perseverance, finishing what you start, and obedience, and coloring.”

Apparently, I managed to get the most important thing done today. I loved my daughter. I loved my husband. We ate pretend fruit salad and drank tea. I watched her play and held her hand. She whispered, “I love you” into my ear. I packed his lunch and made the coffee. I had a long overdue catch up with my sister.

Some mothers seem to juggle it all.

They jog, bake, craft everyday and manage to keep all their little people alive while they do it. But their strengths aren’t my strengths, and while their picture might look perfect, perhaps they’ve got gory details hidden in the background, too.

Picture perfect moms might have gory details cropped out of the background of their picture. Click To Tweet

This summer, I’ve dropped a lot from to my do list. Trying to do it all made me feel like the hours were racing away, putting so much pressure on me to juggle and spin the rest of the day into perfect memories, that I was making myself feel crazy.

I didn’t want to spend any more time being a ‘Spinning Top Mom.’ I wanted to be in the moment with the kids as much as possible.

My daughter is in kindergarten, and we’re homeschooling. I’m simultaneously doing too much and not enough as we try to figure this out for our family, but five is already three months gone, the last of her little kid years.

While she will always be my baby, she won’t always be a baby.

I don’t want her to turn six only to realize I missed the best moments trying too hard to do too much.

Ephesians 5:16 ESV “Making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”

I’ve got to use these days wisely. The house work needs to get done – some days, and some days it can wait. We have to triage, set priorities, and focus on what really matters for the season of life we’re in.

That mom I’m jealous of may be in a completely different place than I am, with a totally different journey. I’ve got to let those false comparisons and expectations go.

The mom I'm envying is in a different place on a different journey. Stop the false comparisons. Click To Tweet

Those are the days I remind myself, “Heaven, not Harvard.”

If I’m parenting and living for heaven, what do I need to do for today? pray, read the Bible, be present, honor God with my life; the rest will sort itself out.

As if to make my point, when I tucked her in tonight, she whispered, “You’re the best mom.” “What makes me the best?” I asked. Innocently, she replied, “You love me.” What a wise and perfect answer! I can’t be any other mom, and I don’t have to be.

I’m not a failure, I’m just a mom who is doing what matters for my family today, even if it isn’t the laundry. The spinning top mom stops here.

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21 Replies to “Spinning Top Mom: I can’t do it all”

  1. “Heaven not Harvard.” <== I LOVE this!! It is so easy to get caught up in trying to do it all. I learned a long time ago that I couldn't, however I still struggle to find the balance between doing too much and too little. Is there a perfect balance really?

    1. I think the trick is to find a balance for today. Let tomorrow take care of itself. Today my balance might be more coffee and reading while tomorrow might be more go, go, go. Just balance one day at a time.

    1. What is “it”? For me, my it has to be being Godly and loving first. Jogging, crafting, writing all comes after I get the first part if there is any room in my day or energy left in my tank. Sometimes, I slide into bed at the end of the day and just yell, “safe!”

  2. It was last year when I starting working on not comparing myself to others (Gal 6:4 was my guide). It was so easy to look around and think “that mom spends more time with her kids than I do” “she always has her hair all nice and neat” “wow, she cooks breakfast every day” “she does more than I do” “she fits in more in her day than I do”, and it was all driving me insane. Comparison is the thief of all joy. and so I stopped. And it was hard, and it took work and it took time and boy did it take meditation and prayer. But little by little I stopped comparing myself to others. I found a great to-do list that only allowed me 13 tasks per day, 10 regular and 3 “most important tasks”, and I used it for work and personal. I stopped trying to keep up with the Jones’, and you know what I found. Freedom.
    I discovered that when I wasn’t comparing myself to others, that I could do what I wanted. My priorities could be what I wanted them to be, not what I thought they should be so that I looked good to the other moms. I discovered I had so much more time in the day to accomplish tasks because I took the “busy” out of my life. When I stopped doing what I thought I “had” to do so that I measured up to others, I found out how much fun my life could be. How much fun I could have with my son, and how magically, no phone calls every came in when I sat down to meditate. 🙂

    So, I’m happy for you, and I hope that you continue forward in this path! Oh, and that you forgive yourself if you catch yourself becoming a spinning top mom again. It takes practice to stop the spinning top. 🙂
    And, I try not to do this – but it’s one of my favorite blog posts that details my revelations and you might find it interesting, from one mom to another! https://didthatjusthappenblog.wordpress.com/2014/12/12/ive-left-the-busy-life-behind/

    1. I so agree with everything you’ve said. I have been fighting this battle for awhile. I like the idea of having a to do list with limited entries! I may have to make one for myself. Thanks for sharing a link. I love to read related content from friends.

  3. Love this post. I am not in the season of having kids yet, but I am thankful for moms like you who don’t try to pretend that it is easy and perfect all the time. Life is messy. My favorite part was when you wrote about asking your daughter what she learned for the day. You are doing an INCREDIBLE job at your most important job. Thanks so much for sharing.

    1. Most days being a mom is frustrating, emotional, and hard punctuated by brief moments of ecstatic joy. It is how we handle the messy and imperfect parts that will make all the difference. Thanks for the encouragement.

  4. I know what you mean. My house is never as clean as I want it to be, we rarely eat as many veggies a day as recommended, and many days my kids just won’t nap. In the end, it’s okay. Each chapter of life has it’s challenges and though we rise to meet them, we cannot expect perfection.

    1. If my child eats one serving of vegetables and two fruits in a day I consider it a win. I will try to cram two servings into dinner sometimes, but hiding them in smoothies is going to be our next strategy.

  5. I love what you said, “you are doing what matters to your family.” Life is about building memories. Memories that will carry you through when our kids become adults and memories that will carry them through when we are gone to be with the Father. Great reminder~

  6. consider that if you focus on your failures and doing it all, you cannot focus on your strengths, what is a blessing and showing Christ to your family and friends.

    Do what you can with what you have. Do your best today and be happy with that. Tomorrow, do it again. Be light, be love and have fun spreading joy and making a difference for the Lord.

    hugs
    @spreadingJOY
    Marie

  7. I love the spinning top analogy. I often tell my kids “mommy can only do one thing at a time” when they all start asking for things. And it’s true on all levels. I have to set realistic goals each day and let the other things go.

    Marissa

  8. Keep in your mind what is important. Keep God first. Remember you are just one person and there are only 24 hours in a day and you can’t work in all in 24 of them. Do what you can, and the rest will take care of itself.

  9. Love this! Perfect for how I’m feeling this week. Especially as I start to really look at homeschooling, curriculums and the “can I really do this” doubts. Thank you for sharing this beautiful post!

    1. I hope to write a post about our homeschooling journey so far. You’ll probably laugh at my journal of lessons and objectives matched carefully with state standards.

  10. Great post! You are so right! We’ve all got those areas we edit out. Hope you have a fun homeschool year! Kindergarten with my oldest (who is now 5th grade) was a fun time, but I think I stressed out about it more than I should. 😉

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