Karen Johnson knows how it feels to be burning the candle at both ends. (It is, after all, how she gets through most days.) The busy mom of three, who works as a freelance writer/editor by day while also running The 21st Century SAHM, is always drowning in to-do lists, and feeling like a big fat failure when many of those tasks go unchecked. But in a now-viral Facebook post, the Wisconsin mom says she recently started to reframe what “doing it all” really looks like for her … and believe it or not, the simple shift in mindset has been kind of life-changing.
Johnson originally wrote the post more than two weeks ago
In it, she holds up a head of fresh broccoli, and gives the camera a bright-eyed smile.
“Story time!” Johnson wrote on August 30. “Why am I holding up a giant head of broccoli? Glad you asked.”
The mom of three goes on to warn her followers that what they’re about to read is definitely not a “Look how amazing I am” kinda post. Instead, it’s a real, honest-to-goodness mom confession that just might make them all feel better about their own lives, too. (And take it from us — this one’s definitely worth a read.)
She begins by giving herself a major pat on the back
And honetly, she deserved it. Johnson had just wrapped up a highly productive day that ended with her (almost) checking everything off her to-do list, and was feeling pretty good about it.
“Today, I was efficient AF,” wrote Johnson, before listing off the various tasks she managed to perform throughout the day.
In addition to registering her son for tennis, she also rented her daughter a clarinet for band try-outs, dropped her other son’s Epi-Pen paperwork at the pediatrician’s office, shopped for dinner items at the grocery store, bought allergy meds for her son, had a painter swing by her house to give an estimate on a project, picked up her son’s friend so he could have a play date … and paid all the household bills.
… Impressed yet? Just wait — there’s more.
After that, she returned home to prep dinner
That’s right — even after an insanely busy day, Johnson managed to meal prep, grocery shop for her family, and then actually follow through with it. (You now, instead of just GrubHubbing dinner ’cause she was too tired to cook.)
On top of it all, Johnson also managed to pull off a full work day for her job, which included writing an in-depth article, creating a presentation, and doing approximately “900 other things my job requires of me daily” — all while emailing/Slacking/and communicating with coworkers about day-to-day operations.
“I also drank six glasses of water AND ate a salad for lunch!” she added. “A SALAD people. Like, I killed it today. Seriously. EFFICIENT AF.”
If you’re rolling your eyes right now, let us stop you right there
Johnson’s post wasn’t meant toot her own horn (though honestly, she has every right to). Instead, she wrote it to prove to moms everywhere exactly how she managed to pull the whole thing off.
And — spoiler alert — it wasn’t because she’s some kind of supermom who operates on a different plane that the rest of us could only dream of.
According to Johnson, she manages to “do it all” by … well, not doing it all
“My kids were on screens all the damn day,” she confessed. “I barely saw them. They fed themselves breakfast and lunch (food foraging was the only time they emerged from the basement) and I’m pretty sure they ate ice cream for breakfast and Oreos for lunch. I don’t even know. There were definitely zero fruits consumed.”
There’s also another big piece of the puzzle she hadn’t shared …
“The house is trashed,” Johnson admits. “We just got back from a 2-week vacation Saturday night and still haven’t finished unpacking. Sh-t is everywhere. Like EV. ER. Y. WHERE. No one can find underwear or socks. Or that’s all they can find and they’re basically naked. There’s no in between.”
“That’s how I managed such an ‘efficient’ day,” she concluded.
So there you have it — the “secret” to momming
And while we’re on the subject, here’s another one for ya …
“Anyone who tells you that you can do it all — that you can parent the way you’ve been guilted into believing you need to parent, and maintain a career you very much deserve and likely need to support your family, and do all the 843 errands moms always need to do like rent fricking clarinets and buy Zyrtec for your allergy-ridden child who ran out last night, and cook healthy meals for your family, and exercise and eat salads and drink water (self care!) and keep your house clean and actually know where your kids are and what they’re doing — anyone who says you can do all of that is lying.”
“Do you hear me? LYING.”
“Something HAS to give. In fact, many things have to give. There is no other way.”
The debate around “doing it all” has been around for decades
(Of course, for some reason it’s always aimed at women — because when did anyone ask or even expect a dad to “do it all”?)
The point is, it’s an impossible standard to meet and maintain; in motherhood especially, but also just in life. At the end of the day, bending over backwards to do all the things and do them perfectly helps no one — least of all our kids. Instead, it just leaves them with a physically and emotionally exhausted, cranky AF, and mentally tapped-out mom.
So forget that to-do list, mamas
Okay, don’t actually forget it — some of those things are actually super important. But do yourself a favor and re-draft it. And the next time you’re overwhelmed (AKA five minutes from now), take a cue from Johnson and stick to what really needs to get done. The rest can go by the wayside.
Are your kids able to wipe their own butts and help themselves to a snack from the fridge? Let them. Will it matter if the laundry continues to pile up for a few more days, so long as everyone has a pair of clean underwear on? Then look the other way.