By Holly Richardson

holly richardson author pic

Right now, there are dirty dishes in the sink, the table needs to be washed off and the pile of clean clothes at the end of my bed is creating a tripping hazard. My family is eating leftovers, what my husband cooks or cereal. 

I am capable of cleaning and cooking but I am choosing not to right now because I am focused on a writing project (my dissertation) that is keeping my behind in a chair 12-18 hours a day. 

I’ve learned for myself that you can do all the things, but not all the things all the time.

I’ve learned for myself that you can do all the things, but not all the things all the time.

Most of my kids are grown, so the dynamics at home are different than with a house full of littles, but even when I did have a house full of littles, I sometimes went deep into one project that left everything else undone. Like sewing pajama pants at Christmas time. I stopped after the Christmas I hit 35 pairs but before then, you could pretty much guarantee I would pull a couple of all-nighters to finish them up. 

If you feel like you run, run, run all day, fall into bed exhausted just to do it all over again the next day – oh, and it’s never enough – welcome to the club. And, I am here to tell you there is a better way. 

I’ve actually thought for years that balance was a myth, an impossibility to achieve. What does that even mean, anyway? That we somehow juggle all our roles with ease? Not possible. Every day is a day we can focus on “what matters most.” Maybe it’s the neighbor who needs a listening ear. Maybe it’s our child with a skinned knee. Maybe it’s a work or school deadline. 


We can ask ourselves: Will this matter in 5 years? Can I set boundaries for myself? I know that being a mom feels like we can’t, but we can. We can say no to things that sap our energy (our kids included, on occasion) and yes to things that replenish us. My wish for you is to have your children grown and love the you you’ve grown into, not wonder where you have gone. 

Motherhood is hard and messy, but it’s also pretty awesome. Being a mom is a role I relish – but it’s not my only one. Right now, the role I am focusing on is “student.” In a couple of weeks, that role will recede and perhaps the one I will pick up with gusto is home renovator. 

I remember hearing some advice that as we juggle, we need to know which balls will bounce and which will shatter. (A quick Google search attributes that quote to about a dozen people….) 


Even sitting in a chair all day for the next two weeks, I have still made time to take our 7-yr old to the dollar store and read books with her. I’ve made my teenager breakfast (she can have cereal for dinner). 

And now – back to the writing the longest paper of my life. 


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