When brainstorming for this post, I turned to the Facebook hive-mind for perspective and was somewhat surprised by the response. Originally I was going to write about how to act like you have it all together, kind of a “fake it ’til you make it,” “what do they have that you don’t have” kind of thing. But then a friend of mine made the comment that a mom who “has it all together” is a unicorn. That is to say, she doesn’t exist. She’s a lovely mythical sparkly creature. Other friends responded similarly, balking at the phrase itself, let alone the concept of trying to live up to what it encapsulates.
I don’t want to appear to have it all together for anyone else’s benefit. I want to FEEL like I am put together because I like the way my life runs when I do. So rather than dictate how to pretend to be some kind of high-handed unicorn ideal of a mom, I took my own ideas of what it means to have it together, along with the responses from my Facebook page, so we can all strive to be the best possible version of ourselves…and feel good while we do it!
1. Be dressed.
I’m not saying you have to look like you just walked off of the page of a J. Crew ad, but there is something to be said for the power of how you present yourself…even TO yourself. Put on a blouse and jeans instead of a t-shirt and yoga pants. Slip on a dress instead of sweatpants to run to the grocery store. You’ll feel more confident, which will make you carry yourself differently, which can change how the whole world looks. A lot of my friends felt like they were #winning just by getting out of their yoga pants and into something with a button.
2. Be generous.
Nothing makes you look like you have plenty of time on your hands than sharing it with other people. When we moved into a new house recently I was blown away and impressed by the thoughtfulness of the people who brought me treats and dishtowels and hand soap. They were small gestures, but with a big impact. Being kind reaps double rewards: you feel good, AND you make someone else feel good too! Win win!
3. Be on time.
My dance and theater training instilled a lot of great lessons in me, but one I am most grateful for is the idea that “15 minutes early is on time.” I know this is easier said than done for some of us, but it’s kind of impossible to feel calm, cool, and collected when you’re frantic, sweaty, and rushed.
When we were struggling to get ourselves together and out the door in the morning when my oldest daughter started public school, I shifted our schedule so that they got dressed and put shoes on first before coming downstairs for breakfast. That way I knew everyone was ready to walk out the door and they didn’t have me breathing down their necks while they lingered over breakfast (seriously, the time it takes my daughter to eat a freezer waffle defies all logic). They also know now that if they finish breakfast before we have to leave, they can play without getting in trouble.
I want to teach my kids the importance and benefits of being early or on time. It makes a good impression, usually results in less yelling when trying to get out the door, and may even give you time to swing through the Starbucks drive-thru.
4. Be invested in yourself.
This kind of tag-teams with the dressing for success idea. Get a manicure (I recommend splurging for gel as it lasts longer), go to the gym, spend time on a hobby or interest, read a good book. People always seem to think I have myself so together when I am in a show, if for no other reason than I am making the time to pour myself into something other than my kids, while still maintaining the SAHM gig. Investing time in yourself and the things that you love or find interesting can be refreshing, inspiring, and great motivation for managing your time effectively.
5. Be authentic.
You can’t have it together by trying to have what is not yours. Choose what is important to you and your family, what you already excel at and what brings you joy, and prioritize your life around those things. It’s so easy, especially in this era of Instagram and Snapchat and Facebook, to hold ourselves to impossible standards or to get stuck in the trap of comparing our full length film to someone else’s highlight reel. I am not a great cook, but I can throw a killer themed birthday party. Maybe the thought of making your kids annual celebration a Pinterest worthy event gives you hives, but you are a master at coordinating your family’s schedule and making it to yoga three times a week.