As a mother of five little ones I hear this often. I know most of the time that it's just a rhetorical expression of awe, and not really a genuine inquiry into my secrets.
But here you are reading my blog so I'm going to deal you the nitty gritty.
One thing that does help me get through my day the more I employ it is a sort of blend of prioritizing and self-forgiveness. By this I mean I decide based on my larger family life vision and my more immediate day's demands what today's primary goals are and what their secondary goals are.
Some times I list these out on a scrap of paper (most of my lists begin with something like FIGHT ENTROPY which is my personal irorny, but all things are possible through Christ who strengthens me!). Some times I don't get around to a list and sort of feel my way through the day, but the principle of the priorities is still at work whether I write them down or not.
One day's priorities might basically be- Personal Devotions, Dinner, Basic House Chores, Make Cards for Sick Person, Read and Color with kids, School Studies, Plant Cucumbers, Clean Fridge, Reorganize Girls Closet
Because these are in order of priority, it doesn't matter if I only get the first 2 or 3 done, because those will be the most important. As the child care permits me, I can work further down my priorities and accomplish more.
But grace comes into the picture when I really never complete any of my lists and the lesser things (which are still meaningful and important, but just not as pressing and often not life makers/ breakers) roll over to the next day until they are gotten around to, or until they are a higher priority because they must be done or because they haven't been done often enough in a while. But I don't have to feel obligated to do everything everyday, and I don't need to make an impossible list for myself even if one or two very large tasks make the list for the day, just in case that particular day provides me some real achievement opportunity (such as my sister Rachel coming over to help unexpectedly!).
I use somewhat of the same priority system to go food shopping with all the kids by myself. First, I release myself from the cooking for the day, by putting dinner in the crockpot or declaring a leftover night, and by making our shopping trip start out with lunch out. Then I structure my list by the most important items by store department that we absolutely can't leave without. If these 4 or 5 items are all i can get before we have trouble with the little guys, then we can check out and it has been a sucessful trip! If everyone is still good then we can get to the next most important items on the list and so on. At any stage if we have to check out and go, we have done well.
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Also, God is convicting me about my late night habits (again) I told him I'm loathe to go to bed earlier because I love my quiet time to myself in the evenings. But He doesn't want me to be anxious for anything and I feel convicted that if I would just trust Him and rest more He would make the waking hours more than enough for me. We talk a lot about trusting God to provide us with our daily bread in terms of our means, and time is as much a resource as anything else! So I'm going to practice not being anxious for it.
So how do you do it all?