Cerebral Palsy, Motherhood, , , ,

“How Do You Do It All?”

I think this is a common question that all Mothers get asked. How do they do it all? How do they juggle 1,2, or 3 jobs, while still being a mom and having a home life, social life, personal life…etc. We just do. If I were to answer this question, I would have to give a very simple answer. So what exactly is the simple answer? “I don’t know. I just do.” I am pretty sure I have my dad to thank for it. Thank you, Dad!

I have always been organized… almost to a fault. I enjoy structure and routine. This is rather fortunate because I’ve read somewhere that toddlers thrive in that kind of environment. Basically, I am a 5’1″ toddler with age lines and stretch marks.

This may be a little excessive, but you will almost always find 3 planners and 2 notebooks on my desk. In these planners, you will find how I set up my schedules and sort through my ideas. In one planner, I have EVERYTHING. In this particular planner, you will find everything such as Mark’s appointments, my appointments, social events, deadlines (for Make Your Mark), meetings, birthday parties, soccer practices, my niece’s tee-ball games, lesson plans, and even things such as “downtime” or when I need to start writing an article. When I say THIS is my lifeline, I mean I never leave the house without it.

In another planner, you will find my “homeschool” and “Montessori” organization. I have scheduled lesson plans, unit themes, and toy rotations planned out for months ahead. I also include my schedule for religious study time or topics of interest, and when deadlines for blog posts are going live.

The last of my three planners is the smallest of the three. This one is my weekly and goal check-off list. This planner holds all of my appointments, events, to-dos, and goals for the week ahead. I really appreciate this particular planner because it really condenses my giant planner down into one week at a time. If I am honest, there are times I look at my large planner and feel overwhelmed. This smaller, weekly planner really allows me to focus on immediate tasks at hand and set goals for myself to ultimately reach my dreams… like starting a blog… or maybe one day, publishing a book.

I think it’s safe to say, at the end of my life I will probably need a library to hold all of my notebooks. They are incredibly important to me for several reasons. My notebooks often contain thoughts or ideas that come to mind throughout the day. Sometimes you will find notes I’ve written during an appointment or a therapy session for Mark. Notes like these allow me to take the information home with me and have an in-depth description of what I need to do to help him. I also make notes of toys he seems to respond really well to or activities that he seems to be engaged in. I do these so I can implement at home, or buy them to help further his development.

I also spend countless hours just writing. I have mentioned that I am an avid writer and found that journaling is a great way to express myself. In fact, I seem to express myself better in writing than I do with words (shocker). Besides, with journaling, I can lay it all out on the table. I get to be vulnerable without fear of judgment or fear of getting pity. I can get angry, cry, and pour my heart out on these pages. I forgot to mention I also leave the occasional smudge mark too. Although now that I’ve thought about it… I basically do that on this blog nowadays too, except I have a great fear of judgment and fear of people feeling sorry for me.

Mark’s medical history is extensive and complex to say the very least. The back and forth with insurance and bills required me to keep all of my paperwork together. Not to mention the many appointments all have notes from physicians and every surgical procedure has a discharge summary. I had to find a way to stay on top of all of it.

To do that, I’ve organized our lives into binders. Each binder is a different color and a general theme. For instance, my purple binder is a bunch of home/ property/ boat/ vehicle information. My grey, green, blue, and red ones are a bunch of Mark’s medical notes, surgeries, and procedures. Of course, I have a binder for my health and one for insurance registration, receipts, and bills too. I am actually in the process of redoing the labels on the binder spines. We’ve recently added a few new specialists and a new monthly payment so naturally notes and statements are being added.

I get a lot of grief for using binders and hardback planners to stay organized. In this day and age, most people I know prefer to scan documents in the cloud. Most people prefer to use their phones or computers to maintain schedules. I am not against the use of technology. I just really enjoy keeping things on paper. I like to have things written down in front of me. I can make changes by erasing a canceled appointment. I can write down confirmation numbers for calls and insurance verification.

I can carry a planner into an appointment while Mark is watching a show on my phone after a difficult appointment (looking at you ENT) and have my next few follow-ups scheduled. Many times my planners also sometimes serve as notebooks. I add the occasional “Contact insurance for Auth”, “Schedule in 6 months”, or “Refill Baclofen” when leaving appointments too.

I’ve been asked many times “How do you do it?” and I guess the answer is I really don’t know. Like I said, I think I have my dad to thank for that. He would always say “Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.” I think it is safe to say it has really resonated with me. It might be a bit excessive and it’s definitely not for everyone. I don’t have all of the answers and I won’t pretend to. I have a great support system. I have amazing people in my life that help me stay on top of my tasks and help me with reminders. As for my organization, well this method is just how I seem to stay on top of everything. I like to think I’ve found great benefits from it and I hope maybe you will too. Or maybe it is just a form of high-functioning anxiety. I wouldn’t be surprised by that either.