Is It Even Possible To Do It All?

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As I sit down to watch a movie on a Saturday night with my washing just dropped off cleaned, dried and the ironing done, I thought back on the question most commonly asked of me when people find out I don’t actually run this website full time. When people find out I am actually working as a manager at a university and work long hours in a demanding job, over an hour away from home.

The question I am most commonly asked is this: How do you do it?


I don’t!

I don’t clean my own house. I only do one load of washing a week. Sometimes I eat cereal for dinner and sometimes I lie on the sofa and mainline Friends instead of doing anything useful with my time.

Some Saturdays I sleep in far later than I should and some Sundays I spend the whole day desperately trying to get on top of the tidying, organising and blogging I need to do for the week in the knowledge that as soon as I sit down at my desk 7:40am Monday morning, I am unlikely to get anything done that isn’t part of my day job for the rest of that week.

For some reason many people seem to be ashamed of admitting that.

We are a generation of feminists raised by feminists who still expect ourselves to be all things to all people. Who still expect ourselves to be able to do it all on our own.

I feel like we’re the first generation who are as isolated as we are. Who spend more time online than talking to our neighbours. Who don’t have a network of other women to lean on when we can’t do it alone.

It doesn’t seem to be a coincidence that rates of mental illness are rising in line with the epidemic of overwork. We’re one of the worst nations in the world for overwork, working longer and longer hours and expecting nothing extra for it.

We look at our mothers who were able to cook, clean, run a house, be good mothers and hold a part time or full time job and we remember them being at our school carnivals* or picking us up from school.

How many of us actually have the luxury to be able to do that? How many of us are, instead, scrambling to get through the door in time for dinner and desperately trying to get dinner on the table.

So why is there still a stigma about outsourcing parts of our lives?

There shouldn’t be. If you work long hours in a hard job, I hereby give you permission to hire a cleaner, to have your washing done by someone else when it gets on top of you, to pay someone to do the things you just don’t have time to do. I give you permission to buy a $2000 kitchen appliance if it makes getting healthy food on the table a little easier. I give you permission to ignore the corner of the house that’s messy or dirty until you have the mental space to deal with it.

You don’t have to be perfect. Your house doesn’t have to be perfect. And you don’t have to have it all done all the time.

It’s time to give yourself permission to fail.

I promise you – nobody cares. And if they do? Tell them to piss off.

Do you do it all? Do you outsource? Would you have a cleaner? 

  • shelie

    I’m actually so stuck in “too busy” mode right now that simply thinking about finding a good local cleaning service and arranging for them to come deal with our house is too much. But in a month (if I can just hold on that long) I will have one day a fortnight without a baby and not at work – THEN we will see what I can manage to fit in. And maybe it will include arranging a cleaner so I can focus on other things on the To Do list.

    • Tamsin Howse

      I just asked in the local Facebook Buy Swap Sell for recommendations. Meant they did the hard yards for me!
      But I totally hear you. It’s hard!

      • shelie

        Good tip. I’ll probably end up asking in the local mums fb group. Thankfully hubby just took a day off work and did a deep clean before we had a cat-sitter stay last week, so this month we just need to try and maintain the basics and then I can attack it all properly in Oct. “October, october, I luv ya, October, you’re only (almost) a month awaaaaaaaaay”

  • A Blog Called Henry

    I have finally (after two businesses started and sold and two kids over the last 10 years) accepted that I can’t do it all. Only problem is, after so many years of breaking myself trying to do it all, I’ve found that others have come to expect it…so now it’s about retraining them! The thing I still struggle with is the guilt. Today is my work day and I’ve had a great run and done everything I really had to do…so rather than just embracing the fact that things are good and it’s OK to do a little internet exploring for a while, I am stressing about all the other things I ‘should’ be doing. When I was earning more money I had a cleaner but it was one of the first things to go once my income changed (and I miss it terribly!!!!) But, letting go of the job I had and the craziness that came with it means that, despite a messy house, I am happier than I’ve been in a long, long time.

    • Tamsin Howse

      I had a colleague say to me once “don’t underestimate how expensive stress is” and he was 100% right – I am literally paying for how stressful my job is by having to hire someone to clean my house.

      • A Blog Called Henry

        That is so true! There’s a lot to be said for a simple life – but it’s hard to get off the treadmill once you’re on it.

  • Gina Soldano-Herrle

    I try to do it all and it really is impossible. I don’t outsource anything at the moment. But, sometimes I just say “to hell with it” and watch Netflix for several hours while ignoring the building pile of dishes or the quickly lengthening to-do list. I feel like there is an expectation for us to be able to do it all and it makes me nuts. Although, I don’t know if I’d have a cleaner. I can be a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to how I want things cleaned.

    • Tamsin Howse

      Haha, yeah I have a couple of friends like that. I don’t really care as long as it’s one less thing to worry about.
      Got to admit, I do what you do too. Sometimes life is just too hard to do any of it!

  • NormalNess

    The only way I “do it all” is that my husband does a lot of things for me.