How I Do It All — Or Not {Video Blog}

How do you do it all?

This is the question that many of you asked when I asked for questions you’d love for me to answer in a video blog.

In this video, I answer that question by sharing how I don’t do it all and I don’t do it all myself. I also give you an insider peek into how I currently plan my day and how it has freed me up from feeling overwhelmed every day.

Links mentioned in this video or related to what I shared:

Google Calendar

My Amazing Team

How to Create a Realistic To-Do List

My Top 3 Tips for Getting Stuff Done

If you have a question you’d love for me to answer in a video blog next week (or in the weeks to come), leave it as a comment on this post and I’ll pick one of your questions to answer next week!

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Comments

  1. says

    I would love to know how you make homeschooling work with your busy schedule? Do you homeschool all year or a more traditional calendar? Do you ever do a bit of school with them on Saturdays? Do you homeschool during the day or more at night? Does your husband ever help with the homeschooling? Have you picked curriculum that allows for you to be a bit more hands off than other curriculum might? Have you adapted curriculum to suit your family life better?

    • says

      We don’t have exactly the same hours that public/private schools do, but ours are similar. We start a little later in the morning, since I let my kids sleep in until 7:30-8:30 (yes, I have great sleepers here and I’m all about it since I think it’s important for kids to be getting a good night’s rest!). Then, it’s breakfast/baths/chores. Once they are done with that, they work on their independent work for 30 minutes to 1.5 hours — depending upon how much they have to do that day. Then, we meet together for our together school time — which takes anywhere from 1-2 hours, again, depending upon how much work is assigned on the schedule that day. Then, I meet with each child for one-on-one school time (we have a read aloud we’re doing, plus some extra stuff we go over/work on) — which usually lasts for 20-45 minutes per child. Once that’s done, if they have all their independent work done, they can read, listen to audiobooks, or work on arts and crafts projects.

      Jesse often does projects or educational things with the children in the evenings, or will sometimes finish up their work or help them with their math, if they’ve especially been struggling with something. He’s fantastic and has a completely different approach to teaching which provides such great variety for our kids.

      We school almost year-round, though we have a more relaxed schedule in the summer. The kids enjoy almost all aspects of homeschooling and they thrive with routine, so that’s why we’ve found a year-round calendar to work well for us.

      Homeschooling is a big commitment, but I love the opportunity it gives me for quality one-on-one time with my children every day. In addition, it simplifies our lives because it allows us to stay home a lot more (we try to have at least 2-3 days each week that we stay home all day as we’ve found this keeps things much calmer).

      • Jena says

        Do you follow one homeschool method? Where do you get your curriculum materials from and how do you juggle three homeschoolers at once?

  2. says

    As a new business owner, this is so encouraging and helpful. I can’t do it all, and it’s helpful to know that no one else can either! I do have a tool I use, it’s called the Planner Pad. I travel back and forth to work, and have my office in my home, so having one book to take with me everywhere has been life-saving. It has a page per week as well as a monthly page, with space for Weekly to dos, daily to dos, as well as a daily schedule (time blocks). It’s so helpful to me. It sounds like I do things similarly to you, Crystal, but I thought if there were people like me who like to have things down on paper, this is a great product. It’s not terribly cheap, but for my situation, it was the best $40 I ever spent.

  3. says

    Do you find that you say No a lot to requests. Since I started working from home I seem to get a lot of requests for service. All are good causes, Vacation Bible School, ministry needs, and mothers groups….but I have a hard time fitting service into my calendar how do you do it?

    • says

      Yes, I’m a big believer in saying no. When you say “Yes” to one thing, you must also say “No” to something else. So I carefully examine my commitments to make sure that I’m saying “Yes” to the best and “No” to what isn’t a priority right now.

      Committing to stay home all day at least 2-3 days per week (as much as is possible) really helps so that I don’t over-commit and wear us all down in the process. I try to keep most extra commitments to Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and that helps to make sure I’m not overloading my plate. Though, believe me, there are certainly still times when I do.

      One thing that has helped tremendously is to try to never commit to something right away. Instead, I say I’ll get back with someone as this gives me time to look at my calendar and make sure it’s something I can feasibly commit to.

    • says

      Jessica,

      I can totally understand where you are coming from. Although I work full time outside the home (would love to make a living from home!), I can still relate with this. I have to regularly review my goals, plans, and to-do lists to make sure I leave room for GOD’s plans for my life…not just mine. In fact, I just wrote a post about this last week. Sometimes even “Godly” things (ministry, VBS, volunteer opportunities, etc) aren’t necessarily what God wants us to be doing at any given point in our lives. Like Crystal said, don’t say YES right away. Take some time to pray about it and see if it’s what God wants you to do. Then you can have peace about all these committments, whether you say yes or no.

    • Marie says

      I have definitely had to learn to say no the last two years, after having my third child. I used to ALWAYS say yes to helping make something for our church’s woman’s brunch once a month. With a husband who was traveling, a baby and twins it just wasn’t feasible. I was trying and drowning and not understanding why I couldn’t do the things I used to do. I would help if meals needed made for someone or help in the nursery’s etc.
      I realize now that when I was saying YES before I was in a totally different season of life. My husband didn’t travel, I didn’t have a newborn and my twins weren’t as young.
      Currently, we have daddy home now and my baby is two and the twins are six. And I am just beginning to be able to say yes again. But I pick and choose. Last month I chose to go to the lady’s brunch but knew it would be too overwhelming to try and make something too. I felt a little guilty and was talking with my Pastor’s wife who just hugged me and said you have 3 little ones!! Guilt was erased and I enjoyed the time with the lady’s. It’s important to know God knows our hearts and where we’re at in life. Don’t let others or yourself put expectations that don’t need to be there.

  4. says

    Thank you for this. I’ll have to check out Google calendar! I’m just curious how many hours you spend per day on things? How many hours for homeschooling, how many for home maintenance, how many for the blog? What do those blocks of time look like? Thanks!

      • says

        You can see a basic rundown of our homeschooling day above.

        Each day is different and the time blocks are different, but we stick to a pretty similar routine:

        I get up and read my Bible and blog, then exercise and shower.
        The kids get up and it’s breakfast/baths/chores.
        The kids do their independent work and then we do our together work and read alouds. Lunch is usually in there somewhere depending upon how long everything takes. :)
        I blog in the afternoons after school is done (the kids play, read, listen to audiobooks, etc. while I blog.)
        Movie time is at 5 p.m. — and it’s a very looked forward to part of the day for the kids. :)
        Then it’s dinner and family time. Evenings vary but they are usually pretty relaxed and unscheduled.

            • says

              I know this isn’t a short movie but I wanted to let you know that our family watched The Lost Medallion last night and it was really, really good. Alex Kendrick (from Courages, etc) was in it. It’s only for sale at Walmart and Sam’s ($14) but it was worth every cent. I rarely buy movies (like only at Christmas and only from the $5 bin at Walmart) so it says alot that I asked my husband to get it when he was picking up auto oil. All that to say, I think your children will like it – there was one “intense” part where my 4 year old daughter said, “Cover my eyes. He’s gonna wake up.” I guess she can’t just shut them.

  5. says

    Thank you for being such an inspiration. You help me so much with saving money and finding freebies that my family will use. God Bless.

    Check out my blog at:
    dreamingofperfect.weebly.com

  6. says

    It is so good to hear you verbalize what I had already gleaned from your blog. :)

    When you are in business for yourself looking at those that are going ahead of you, we need to hear this over and over. :)

    You are amazing. Thank you for sharing your heart and including the blog in yoru top 4 things!

    :)
    Lisa

  7. says

    Scheduling the whole day out on an hourly basis is sooooo helpful! It’s not practical for me right now since I have a 5 month old who’s not on a routine, but I was so productive when I used to do that.

    As for a future video blog, I would love to hear more about your menu planning. Do you have a rotation of family favorites or do you regularly try new recipes? Do you have a system for trying new recipes? My problem is that I find all sorts of new recipes online, in magazines and in books but haven’t come across a good way of organizing them and using them on a regular basis.

  8. CJ says

    Ok Crystal, now I want to know what you don’t do. You said that we probably do 100 things that hou don’t do, so what can we start to eliminate?

    • says

      Obviously, I’m not Crystal but I think that those things would be different for each person/family and that might be why she didn’t list all the things she doesn’t do. For instance, I know Crystal doesn’t garden and yet for our family it is vitally important. I think the point was to not compare and not to think “Well, if Crystal doesn’t do it then I shouldn’t do it.” But to think about what you’re doing and is it really important for your family and if not, then work on eliminating it.

  9. CJ says

    Oh, and do you have any tips for those of us who don’t have a team to help out? Building a business at home is tough without help and I feel like I’m always dropping the ball somewhere.

  10. K says

    How did you go about about soliciting/selecting the help that you needed once you realized that you did need to delegate certain tasks? (To ensure that you had capable and trustworthy team members.)

    I know that you’ve mentioned that you have family members who help. Did they already happen to have the skills necessary to help you with your business?

    By the way, I’m encouraged by your priorities. Faith, family, health, blog/business, etc. – or I think it went something like that. :)

    You are very humble, which is also very encouraging.

    I really see God in all of this. Must be that you have a submitted heart – to Him. [I need to do more of that. :) ]

    You’re definitely a Proverbs 31 woman. :)

    Blessings!

  11. says

    Crystal, I love you so and appreciate you for being so transparent. I get this question a lot too. I always answer by saying, “I don’t do it all and if you saw the inside of my house, you would know it.” :P

  12. Emily says

    I would love to know if your children fight with one another at all, and if so, how you handle the fighting and strategies you use to get them to get along and enjoy each other.

    • says

      It’s funny that I found this post because I was wondering the same thing while unloading the dishwasher at lunchtime! I’m trying to build up a business on Etsy right now but have a 4 1/2 year old and a 2 year old. I’m trying to find a balance of work time and caring for and playing with my kids. I’d like to know more about your kid’s schedule each day. Do you kids let you get your work done? Mine seem to demand much of my attention. :)

      • Laura says

        Yes, I would like to know this too! I want to work on my own business, but my 2 1/2 and 14 month old seem to demand so much time. I try to make boundaries with them, but still, if it isn’t one thing it’s another! How did you work on building your business when your kids were small and you didn’t have a team?

      • says

        I’d suggest setting priorities like Crystal and then getting into a routine so that you have a certain amount of time to focus on your blog/business. When I blog, I tend to get up before my kids or work on it during quiet/nap time. This helps me to not only focus on my blog and make sure I’m staying pretty balanced. I’ve just had to learn that at least right now, I’m not going to get it all done, so I have learned to prioritize!

  13. says

    Thanks so much for your honesty here! It’s helpful for all of us, no matter what we do, to be reminded that we can’t do it all and don’t need to feel like we must.

    Just a note on the Google calendar. My husband and I use it just for our personal schedules. We each have a gmail account, and can share our calendars with each other. That way, I can look in one place and know both of our schedules at once! It has helped us so much with communicating about schedules and avoiding overcommitment or arguments. So, a hearty endorsement!

  14. Anna says

    Love the video! :)

    I’m wondering whether you have any suggestions for balancing work (whether it be blog work, housework, etc) and family (kids and marriage). I often feel like either I’m spending lots of time with the kids while the house is a mess or I’m trying to get the house clean while the kids are wanting me. I am trying to start waking up earlier, and hopefully that will help, but any thoughts you might have on what the balance should look like or finding a good balance would be great. :)

    • Anna says

      Oh, and just wondering, do you use Google calendar just to post appointments or specific things you have to do at home or with the kids too? I’d love to hear any suggestions you have for using it. I’ve tried getting into it a few times to help with getting organized. At the moment I just use it for appointments or things I plan to take the kids to. :)

    • says

      For the housework versus kids dilemma I’d say get the kids involved in helping you. It does take a little longer while you’re teaching them, but it’s amazing what they can actually do themselves when taught and then given the chance.

      By the way, my kids are 6, 4, 3, and 21 months, so I’m not just talking about older kids. In fact, our three older kids have been rotating breakfast duties for the past few weeks and it’s almost to the point that I can completely do something else (while still being nearby during the actually stove portion). Here’s our 3-year-old making scrambled eggs. Now we’re working on them making smoothies independently.

  15. says

    Love the video Q&A! I wish there were a magic “do it all” pill!

    My question is: how did you balance starting your business (in the beginning before you could hire help) with your other responsibilities? How did you resist the temptation to work way too much on your business? How did you know that it was best to keep going and working long hours on your business even before you had earned a profit and had no real guarantees? Would there have been a point that you would have quit if it hadn’t become profitable?

  16. Laura says

    I wish your audio would have been up higher. I would have loved to have heard what you were saying. Could barely hear and had my volume all the way up! :(

  17. Crissy says

    I would love advice on when you have your plan but you can’t work it. For instance you plan to get up early and do some wor or exercise or take shower but your children wake up at 5am ready to start their day and your husband is leaving for work soon. Or just when life happens. Thanks so much!

    • says

      That usually happens in some way shape or form every day. :) And that’s why margin time is so important.

      What helps me is to plan for the unplanned and then it doesn’t throw me off or frustrate me like it would if I were expecting everything to go perfectly according to plan.

      I try to go into my day expecting the unexpected and ready and willing to move things around when the unplanned happens. This often means that my time blocks will get bumped down by an hour or two — and that’s okay so long as I’ve planned some margin time into my day.

      If I pack my day so full that there’s no wiggle room, it’s inevitable I’m going to run through the day feeling flustered and frustrated. And believe me, I’ve learned this the hard way. :(

  18. says

    For some reason, Google Calendar didn’t work like my brain worked, but I really like the iCalendar app on my iPad. I never thought I’d dump the paper planner, but that app has made it possible!

  19. says

    I really enjoyed this, Thank you so much!

    I have a two and a half year old who is a real fireball. His older brother is at school in full day kindergarten, so there is a LOT of interruption when I’m trying to get things done. Can you (or your resourceful readers) share any ideas you have as far as this goes? I love the idea of blocking out the time, working the plan, but it feels like that is just building a block tower for him to knock down.

    • Marie says

      Your fireball can together with mine! (ha-ha) I have two in full day kindergarten and I thought I would have so much time and get so much done!!! My 2 1/2 year old is more work then my twins put together were at this age! I’m pulling my hair out.
      I have tried dumping the to-do list and just focus time with her, thinking maybe she just needed more mommy time. NO! I try giving her activities to do like coloring or something like that but she is quick to find the floor, her body or her clothes. She has no interest in her toys.
      I have found she likes having other kids around so I have been trying to do a playdate more often.
      I’ve asked friends to and none of their ideas have worked and then they came to my house and saw her in action!!! I think they thought I was over exaggerating.
      I just think it’s a season right now, one that’s hard and I don’t like but am praying it gets better.
      One word of encouragement that I wrote down and posted on my desk is
      “Children are a blessing NOT an interruption” This has helped me so much!! Makes me pause in my moments of frustration to see what’s really important.

  20. KaryanStratton says

    You mentioned that you try to spend one-on-one time with each of your children every day. How do you maje that happen? What do the others do while it isn’t their turn? What suggestions do you have for making that time meaningful?

  21. angela rogers says

    Hi Crystal… thank you for sharing your thoughts today.. I appreciated the recommendation for Google Calender. I need to get away from a paper planner. I’m such a list person and love scheduling bc it works but after the last baby I need a kick in the pants to get back to it all! I have been using a massive planner bc it combines my homeschooling planner and daily planner in one. We do more of a year around school setting and I likes to see where we will be in 6 months or so. I also have older kids which gives us several grades and subjects to balance etc. .. and so not sure if you have dealt with this or not.. I forget how old your children are… anyway that would be my question. Using google calender for your daily planner.. then what do you use to plan out your schooling? Do you combine it somehow with google calender?

  22. says

    When did you stop using a paper planner? I must have missed that. I thought you tried doing it online and then it didn’t work, so you went back to paper.

    • says

      I did indeed — and you have a good memory! :)

      I landed on this hybrid method a few months ago. It slowly happened as I started falling in love more and more with Google calendar and found I was using a paper planner less and less.

      The difference this time is that I’m doing all updates to my calendar on my laptop versus trying to mess with a productivity app on my phone.

      Now, I just use Google calendar on my laptop and then daily paper and it’s been perfect for me for right now — especially since I only have to have one sheet to hang onto each day and can set up Google calendar to email me multiple reminders, if need be, for things I might forget. :)

      I especially love that Jesse and I can sync our calendars, plus I have calendars synced with different team members, too.

  23. says

    Hi Crystal! I have been wanting to ask you this question, so thanks for the opportunity!

    In one of your eBooks, you mentioned spending time with extended family on the weekends and sharing lots of laughter. I am a tad envious of that because, like many other families, we do not live near extended family. My question is, what sorts of things do you guys do together to connect? Does it happen naturally or do you plan certain things? Are there certain games, activities, etc that prompt the connection? I feel like my kids are missing out on the aspect of community. I want to make it a priority but since we live as missionaries, it is so, so hard. I’m really at a loss of where to start. I sense that you do this really well, so I would love to hear your thoughts that might get me brainstorming for my own situation.

  24. Erin says

    This video was so encouraging! I had to turn the wi-fi off on my phone (since we have YouTube blocked on our home wireless network) but I’m so glad I did! I love what you do with the daily to-do list, time blocks, working your plan everyday. While my daily plan is flexible I think maybe its too flexible and not specific enough. I’m going to try the daily to do list! Thank you!

  25. Michelle says

    One question I have is with respect to early to bed, early to rise …

    I have been following this and it’s working but my one issue is my husband’s schedule is very “opposite” mine and I feel like we don’t have enough “couple time”.

    Does Jesse follow your schedule or do you somehow find a common ground?

  26. valleygirl says

    Why not just do your to do list on google to using the task list? You can prioritize and check off when done and see it right there alongside your calendar. If you put a date it will automatically enter into your calendar. Seems like that might free you up even more. I love google as well…when I remember to use it. ;)

    • says

      I try to keep my computer off during the middle of the day so I can focus on homeschooling/my kids, so a completely paperless system just didn’t work for me. However, for people who are more techie than me, I’ve heard it can work beautifully. :)

      • valleygirl says

        That makes sense! Didn’t know if you had a smart phone. I think you can link it all there too (I am guessing, I don’t have one yet, I guess I am still in the dark ages, haha).

  27. says

    This isn’t something for a video blog (unless you want it to be :)) but I was wondering about how you set up your time blocks. Was that written in a previous post that I missed? I was with you with the to do lists but then when you said you set it up in time blocks my mind got confused and I wondered how you do that. Do you have the same time blocks every day? Do you use your prioritized to do list and fill in the time blocks? Sorry my brain is not working tonight, i can’t even figure out what I am trying to ask. I guess what I am wanting is a step by step of how you turn your list into time blocks. And is it possible to do it the night before? My son gets up soon after I do (and I am pregnant and exhausted so I am not willing to get up early at this point) so if I tried to do the time blocks in the morning it would probably take a lot longer. I am also still working on making the to do list the night before (just started this a couple weeks ago) so I know that I will fail some days and that is ok as long as I pick myself up and try again the next day.

    • says

      Basically just “Time Blocks” that I’ll work on this from this time to this time. Instead of just having a to-do list or even a prioritized to-do list. I try to do the most important things in the morning, so then if I run out of steam in the afternoon, at least I’ve gotten the most important things done.

      If you’re at a season of life where you’re exhausted and maybe just more in survival mode, you could shoot for just three time blocks in the morning to accomplish three important projects (and you can allot extra time and keep the projects simple).

      This works really well for me, but it might work better for you to stick with just a to-do list. Do what works for you! :)

  28. says

    Hi Crystal,
    First off, thanks for all you do…I find all of your posts to be so refreshing!
    Here is my million dollar question: I work outside the home full time (8:30-5:30 Mon-Fri), am a mom, my son plays travel basketball so we are gone quite often on the weekends, a newbie-blogger (I am a “couponer” and my blog focuses on raising awareness of local non-profits in need with the goal of connecting people like myself to fulfill those needs)…I would love to get tips from you or anyone in your community with similar lifestyles on how to fit it all in. I view being a stay at home mom as a full-time job too so I am sure there are many transferable tips.
    Thank you!
    Catina :-)

  29. Ashlee says

    First of all, thanks for all you do! I’ve been reading this blog for over 3 years now and it’s amazing I’m still finding great tips and inspiration here.

    I’d love to see a video about your freezer cooking- how you plan for it, where you get recipes, how you prep, time commitments, how you store the items, etc.
    Thanks!

  30. Aimee says

    Really enjoyed your podcast, Crystal! It’s so easy to think that other moms are doing it all when you’re not in their home every day seeing the dirty dishes, etc.

    One thing I would love to hear about from you is how you manage the evolution of your business while also managing the ever evolving needs of your family. To give more context, several of the Christian mom bloggers I’ve followed for years have had tremendous success and growth, particularly in the last two years. I’ve noticed a trend that they started as fairly traditional SAHMs but now are frequently asked to travel away from home to speak at various engagements or to meet with business partners, etc. I’m curious if this has been an intentional move (i.e., you and your husband talked about it and decided he would step back a bit from his job to be at home when you’re away, etc.) or if it’s been more organic. Also, do you feel it’s working better now than it would have a few years ago because your children are older?

    I stepped back from a very demanding job for a slightly less demanding job that affords me a lot of flexibility because I wanted to have more time at home with my family. My kids are still quite young but I’m already seeing that their needs change so quickly through these years so it isn’t as much of an issue if I need to work for an hour or two in the evenings than it would have been when they were one. Would love to hear more about how you’ve made this work and any advice you have.

    Sorry for the long comment! :-)

    • says

      For us, while I never set out to be a speaker, it’s something that we feel God is leading me to do and He’s been opening doors, blessing things, and continuing to make it clear to us that this is the path He would have us to take — even if it’s far different than what I would have envisioned for myself.

      However, we’re seeking to be very intentional in what opportunities I accept (I’ve turned down a lot of opportunities this past year because they just weren’t a good fit or didn’t work well with our family’s schedule) and to be very intentional in how we plan and approach the future. We’re making the decisions together and are very much on the same page with how God is leading. I have very open hands about it all and want what God wants most of all — even when sometimes it’s completely different than what I would choose. He knows best and He is so faithful!

      Jesse has a very thriving law practice, so instead of him scaling back, God has been bringing people along to join our team and help us out so that my speaking is a blessing to our family instead of a burden. We’re constantly re-evaluating things and tweaking things so that we can keep it this way. That said, Jesse is so willing to take over in the evenings and on weekends when I’m gone. He does fun and special Daddy dates with them and I love all the fun memories they are making together!

      {By the way, I’m definitely at a much easier seasons of life now that my children are older, potty-trained, sleeping through the night, and much more independent. It almost seems like things are too easy… but it’s true that all that early work and effort does pay off!}

      • Aimee says

        Thanks so much for responding, Crystal! You and Jesse have clearly done a wonderful job of prayerfully considering opportunities and finding ways to make it work. It never ceases to amaze me how God has such unique plans for each of us and makes those paths straight by providing exactly what we need. (and often surprises us with those plans :-))

  31. says

    This is so refreshing to hear Crystal! I have been following your blog for a while now, and wondered, how does she do it all? I was specifically wondering about this question as I have recently launched a blog. I am currently exploring the concept of taking a Sabbath and making sure that my relationship with God and my family are the top priority. You can also read more of my thoughts about taking a Sabbath at http://www.claritywithcharity.com

    • says

      One of the best decisions I ever made as a blogger was to take Sundays off. While I love blogging, I look forward our quiet media-free Sundays every single week. It’s my day to recharge, refresh, and renew as a family.

      • Charity says

        Thanks for responding! I love hearing that you “unplug” on Sundays and take a Sabbath! So refreshing to hear a successful and God honoring women taking time for that!

  32. Cris says

    I am always curious of what comments to posts to do you chose to read (or respond) because there are just too many! Maybe you are a speed reader and can weed out thru them quickly… Do you have a system to where you get alerted of comments on certain posts you consider more important to answer to? You do an amazing job!!

    • says

      I usually read every single comment and try to respond to as many as possible. I can’t always get to all of them if life is really full that day, but it’s my goal to respond to as many as I possibly can. I love and appreciate you all and want you to know that this site wouldn’t be anything without you reading and interacting here!

      Thank so much for your kind encouragement!

  33. Becky says

    Thanks for this! I would really love to hear about your homeschool days and juggling the different ages. Is there a certain time you start your day?

  34. bethany says

    Do you play with your kids? I have a 4 year old and now a newborn and most of my day is just playing with him (usually while I am nursing the baby). Maybe this is because he was an only child for so long. When your kids were younger did you do this more? I enjoy it, but I have to put limits on it so I can do a load of laundry each day and prepare meals. He is able to play independently.