I was recently interviewed by the SortaAwesome podcast about making time for your passion. The host, Megan, asked me how I make everything happen in a day, and I gave her a philosophical answer rather than a practical one. Because the truth is, nobody can or should duplicate my days or my life. It’s far more important that you understand the “why,” rather than how one single person does it. And yet, I can’t help but offer a few specific practicalities and more navel-gazing, just because…

I view my life and my roles in terms of “hats.” Unless you are Kate Middleton, hats are borderline “too much” on a good day. But wearing more than one at a time? Utterly ridiculous.

In the same way, I can’t do more than one thing well at a time. I can multi-task, sure, but it doesn’t mean I should. Because so many of my everyday jobs require full-time attention, I can’t make hard and fast rules about exactly how many hours a day I will wear which hat. And every day of our week is slightly different with co-ops, learning therapy, and general chaos. Instead, I give myself permission to move in and out of hats throughout the day, while still recognizing that I can only reasonably wear one hat at a time.

For instance – I wear my “homeschool teacher” hat from 9 to 12 in the morning. That’s when we buckle down and git’er done. We power through the math lessons, memorize Shakespeare, grade all the book work, and fall down the YouTube rabbit trails about past US presidents. I ignore my phone, ignore my to-do list (most of the time – what I’m saying is I TRY), and give my full attention to teaching.

When lunchtime arrives, not everyone is done with school. But my time of hard-core school focus is over. My kids carry on with their independent work and, while I’m available to answer quick questions, my role quickly moves into “homework supervisor,” not necessarily Teacher and Instructor. This means I can quit worrying about whether or not I understand the math lesson of the day and can switch my focus to some of my other jobs.

*Files mortar board up on the shelf until the next day.*

(On co-op days, picture me in a page boy cap, chauffeuring my little charges and demanding bigger tips.)

After lunch, I dole out some mom instructions and then we all buckle down to our independent work. I have independent work, too. This looks different depending on which project I’m currently embroiled in. Sometimes I don my online teacher hat (which looks a lot like a fairy godmother hat with a magic wand) and plow through some Brave Writer work or plan my co-op classes.

Other times, I’ve got my Regency bonnet tied under my chin and I’m flying through edits on my historical fiction.

Rest assured, I only write blog posts in a smoking jacket and fedora, so I don’t look ridiculous at all while typing this.

At the end of the afternoon, I’m in full-on chef and mom mode, pulling together dinner, supervising the last of the homework, admiring Lego creations, switching over laundry, hunting down that suspicious smell in the pantry, and pulling all the people and threads together from our day to join together over dinner and conversation.

Once the dinner time crush is over, sometimes I pull out another hat and get more work done, and other times I’m content to cram all the hats into the far reaches of my closet and rest my weary brain with a book or some Netflix.

Now here’s the important part: Mothering isn’t a hat. Neither is wife-ing. (It’s my blog, I can make it a word if I want to.) My people? They are my heart, the beat of my drum, thudding away all day long, all night. The interruptions are ever present, they thump-thump with alarming regularity. And that is as it should be. Hats fade in and out of style, but my people and my relationship with them are the most important. If any one hat gets too weighty, too onerous to wear, then we have to trim it or retire it. End of discussion.

I don’t get to unzip the Mom role or shimmy out of the Wife title. I wear them like a second skin. So when the interruptions come, which they will, I try to remember the difference between that which can be removed -a hat of questionable fashion- and that which makes up my whole. And then, with some prayer and some Jesus help, I choose to say yes, to take a deep breath and find the missing shoe, to kiss the scrape, and break up the fight. I do the Relationship first and always.

The rest is just headgear, y’all.