28 Oct 2014

How I Do It All (Not)

People often ask me how I “do it all” – book writing and blogging and kids and marriage and full time work and community and conferences and figuring out new ways to make chicken.

Here’s the obvious truth: I don’t. And what I do manage — I don’t always do very well.

When I was writing the book while working full time I basically stopped doing ALL OTHER THINGS.

That included dishes and cooking and laundry and some days personal hygiene. We all just existed in a state of semi chaos for about 10 months. But it was OK because we’d agreed as a family before hand and we were in it together. All the way. That meant Pete made more time in his schedule to cover things at home and I stole every single spare hour I could for writing.

This worked because I LOVED WRITING THAT BOOK. And because it had an end date.

This season we’re currently in sees me dialing back in some areas so I feel less torn between commitments and more present in my family, my full time job with (in)courage, and my living room and the Legos that never seem to let up.



There’s no one size fits all when it comes to figuring out this motherhood gig.

And because I believe so very sincerely that God has given us dreams that don’t end in the labor and delivery ward, we just lean into the tension of finding out how to follow the Father God who calls us deeper and further into the Kingdom and we bring our kiddos with us.

Because that’s the beauty of calling a mother to Kingdom work – she brings her kids with her – and models for them what it looks like to hear the call and to FOLLOW IT. Toddlers and temper tantrums all in tow.

I think therein lies the key – is your family a part of this call you’re following? Are you all in it together? Even the crazy days. And believe me they will come! Because if you’re in it together you can do all kinds of wild and wonderful adventures and then emerge and embrace the quiet days again.

Until it changes again tomorrow. And then again the next day.

This roller coaster called life that is always best when ridden with the people who love you best and who you love doing life with.

We give each other our best and some days that looks like a clean home and a sane mother and some days that looks like take-out and book deadlines and unwashed hair. But I belong to them and they belong to me so we share all the things and figure out the best way that works for our best.

I work full time from home and all three of my kids are in school at least 3 days a week. On the 2 days Zoe is home we have a nanny who helps us. And because she is so good to me, she also helps with dishes and laundry and teaches my daughter how to bake bread. The fact that she also loves arts and crafts is the biggest bonus of all time because these are not things I particularly enjoy.

I also don’t coupon or meal plan. It’s shocking how regularly I am shocked to discover that my people will need to eat EVERY SINGLE DAY come 5:30pm.

That’s keeping it honest friends.

There are MANY things about balancing the need to work with the needs of a family that are challenging and I don’t know anyone who gets it right all the time. Whether they work or stay home or work from home or homeschool or whatever life looks like for each of us. I just keep showing up and trying and am so grateful for a good sense of humor and people who help get it done.

There’s no shame in asking for help. Or admitting you need it.




I have friends with husbands who are deployed and they say that having someone come over to help coordinate bedtime while they go out for a few hours to read a book and sip some coffee in quiet is essential to their survival. I believe them.

And the majority of my friends who are well known bloggers ALL have help. Whether that includes virtual assistants who manage their email or publicists or good friends who plan their PR or schedule their travel or simply the high school girl down the road who comes over to supervise cleaning and meal prep. Everyone has some kind of help.

So if you’re feeling overwhelmed because you can’t do it all, you’re not alone. 

No one can do it all. We’re not built that way.



My friend, neighbor and bestie, Lisa, took care of all three of my kids for several hours on Sunday afternoon because Pete had a work function and I wasn’t back yet from the Allume Blogging Conference. And while I was thrilled to be reunited with my tiny people, I was also exhausted. And set them up on the sofa with Netflix and Chinese takeout while I took a nap. 

I love how Money Saving Mom so disarmingly states on her about page that, “I’m not doing this alone.” And then shares the names of her entire team and their roles – proving that there is no secret formula to balancing it all – there’s just the honest admission that we can’t and that we need people to help us.

I don’t see what is gained by any of us pretending that somehow everything runs flawlessly behind the scenes.

Especially when behind-the-scenes at my house included an announcement at breakfast this morning that one of my three had a messy accident in the bathtub last night while I was out introducing the three-year-old to Frozen on Ice and no one could remember if it had been cleaned up yet or not.

That’s exactly the kind of news one looks forward to hearing while drinking one’s hot chocolate. Not.

But if my sharing can help at least one person let go of expecting so much from themselves then it’s totally worth it.

Some nights I write blog posts when the kids are finally in bed. And other nights I watch my new favorite show, Selfie – it’s “My Fair Lady” meets the social media generation. Let’s be honest here – most nights I watch TV rather than write blog posts. Because I’ve been running on empty for a long time and it’s time to fill back up again. This is the book I’m re-reading again for what has to be at least the twelth time. Stories are my love language and I need to fill up on them before I can write anything worth reading.

More and more I know what I can manage. But maybe more importantly I know what I can’t manage. 

And I think that’s the biggest win of all.


My book – Surprised by Motherhood – offers a candid look into our messy —order right here.
Or download the first three chapters for free over here.



{ Leave a Comment }
  1. 1

    Thank you for saying it’s ok to not really have it all together. I fall into that trap. I hear that I should…from myself and from others close to me. But I can’t…and I definitely don’t. It’s comforting to know that I’m not alone in this part of motherhood, as well. I think I’m going to call that middle-schooler down the road who actually loves to play with my kids…and get some work done myself. ;) Thank you, Lisa-Jo! Needed this today.

  2. 3

    “Because if you’re in it together you can do all kinds of wild and wonderful adventures and then emerge and embrace the quiet days again. ”

    Yes! May I embrace today and all the crazy that comes with it! And may I hug these littles extra tight knowing we are in it together.


  3. 4

    Thank you for your transparency. An answer to my prayers as I seek to balance working 3 days a week, caring for my husband, and loving 2 boys under 3.

  4. 5

    I know you get this all the time, but reaĺly….so timely. I needed to hear this today. Thank you. :)

  5. 6

    Lisa Jo Baker- I LOVE YOU! YOU ROCK! I love how you put into words real life as a Mama, who works, who struggles, who is REAL. Thank you!!!!!

  6. 7

    I appreciate this, Lisa-Jo, more than you know. I learned this last year when I guest posted on a blogger’s website, and when I asked the blogger about what size my image should be, the blogger couldn’t tell me because they didn’t do ANY of that themselves, they sourced it out to an assistant, and it hit me in that moment that NO ONE does this alone. We aren’t designed to be one-woman circus, balancing all the rings together perfectly. And yet we sometimes feel like such failures when we cannot manage that kind of charade. It is good to hear you share this, because the disillusionment persists, that somehow, there are these wonder-bloggers out there who DO IT ALL, and do it all perfectly. It’s nonsense, and I am so glad you popped that rose-colored balloon here today. LOVE you, girlfriend.

  7. 8
    Nancy Carlisle says:

    You are wonderful. I love your authenticity. I love your writing. It makes my day, every day I read it. Been wanting to let you know that for months. I gave your book to several family/friends who have young kids and to my friends who are now facing empty nests…but the mothering wisdom is timeless and how you connect it to our Creator is invaluable.
    I relate so much as I lost my dad when I was about your age. I was sure if I ever had 3 kids, it would be “my 3 sons”…but, in fact I have been blessed with 2 sons and then a daughter. I commute an hour to work and listened to your book. I love audible and was sad when you were done!
    Thank you for your sharing your gifts. I quote you often (but I do give you credit!) and know that there is indeed…”enough work in the kingdom for all”.

  8. 9

    Thank you for your honesty. I have a friend with nine kids who told me the work of a mom is to model Jesus – whose ministry involved bringing his disciples along for the ride. He invited them to follow, participate, and learn while he did the work God gave him to do. That takes some of the pressure off. Like it’s OK to pursue a purpose beyond playing LEGOs. Amen?

  9. 10
    Julie Reynolds says:

    OH LISA JO!! you have no idea how my heart needed this today! I’m not in those trenches that you and other young mothers are trudging in right now. Although , I remember those days so well, I was never so glad to see bedtime get here as during those days. Now my littles are grown and I have a grandson and I find myself “running on empty” too often. The couch and TV have become and escape from even the laundry. Thanks for reminding me that I’m not alone.

  10. 11

    Reading this was like sighing a good deep sigh! But I must admit, I need help finding help. There isn’t a middle schooler down the road, the college student I approached last month declined our offer because she wanted more money than we are prepared to offer (I’d have to go back to work to pay for her). Help! How do I find help??!!

  11. 12
    Constance says:

    Thank you. I needed this. I have for a while. I was going crazy with just my tiny 1 child, but we are in a season without community and I needed the reminder that not having people really is enough to sink the ship. If it goes on long enough. And enough to make rough sailing even if it doesn’t. Thanks.

  12. 13

    Holy Cow Girl! You hit this nail right on the head. It’s so easy to forget and beat ourselves up…”not enough again, ehh” Thanks for the encouraging word! You always do such a fabulous job expressing what we are feeling. Keep up the great work!

  13. 14

    Thanks so much for sharing your heart with other mamas. I’ve already read the first few chapters of your book since I left Allume, and it’s such a blessing already! :) And this post was an absolute blessing straight to my inbox. Thank you!!

  14. 16

    Thank you thank you thank you. Really appreciated hearing the hows and wheretos of how working from home looks for you and other bloggers. Struggling with figuring out that balance myself. Appreciated hearing this.

  15. 17

    Hey, honey. I never worked full time and I STILL couldn’t do it all! I tried that coupon thing a couple of times. Big fail. BIG. Sigh. Finally decided I’d buy what we actually ate, not the stuff with the discounts. Good choice! Life got a little simpler and a whole lot better.

  16. 18

    I completely agree!!! The only Moms I know who have it remotely together are the ones I work for!!! No Mom can do it all! Thank you for your honesty and the beauty of your writing. :)

  17. 19

    The book link took me to one of my favorite authors of all time. I do hope you’ve read Patricia McKillips other books as well. If not please do.

  18. 20

    Thank you for this post! As I sit here to take a moment and refill my soul before I dive back in to childcare and my book that isn’t writing itself, I can hear my twins tearing apart the playroom. Nice to know I’m not the only one who doesn’t have everything under control. Thanks for pulling back the curtain. You take all the time you need to refill. We’ll all understand, and we’ll all be here when you get back to cheer you on.

  19. 21

    “But if my sharing can help at least one person let go of expecting so much from themselves then it’s totally worth it.”

    Yes! Let me tell you Lisa-Jo that the minutes/hours you give away to other moms you’ve never even met ARE totally worth it! The quote above is exactly why I love reading your blogs so much! In your words of real I find myself, and feel a little less crazy doing this mom gig. You affirm me, and the fact that I am NOT superwoman. I am NOT perfect. I canNOT do this alone, and don’t have to pretend that I can. Thank you from the bottom of my exhausted but grateful heart. Your honesty makes me cry with relief. :)

  20. 22

    i love how honest you are – i have had a hard day today with realizing yet again i can’t keep all the plates juggled without one falling to the floor and breaking (and we literally broke yet another real plate tonight during dinner). i wonder all the time how other moms do life because having these 6 little people who i insanely love is very hard work. anyways, you were super encouraging to my night. thank you.

  21. 23

    Amen!! So refreshing to read this honesty. I’ve always wondered how “the other side” does it? Struggling with comparison. Too proud to ask for help. Then I realized how much better and richer life could be with help. And when I don’t have it, I’m a little more ready to cut myself some slack and allow my sweet one a few episodes of her beloved Elmo when I’m pulling my hair out. Digressing… thanks!


  1. […] How I Do It All (Not) | Lisa-Jo Baker. Such a great reminder that we don’t always look at the whole picture when we should.  […]

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