Susan Seay, author, speaker and homeschooling mom, carves out some time to visit with Kathi. Kathi asks, “How do you do it all as a professional communicator, a mom to seven kids, a wife, while being active in your family’s business?” And friends, Susan’s advice is rich with wisdom and practicality.
In today’s episode, you will learn two ways Susan has figured out how to actually get the stuff done that needs to get done:
- Have a DON’t do list.
- Identify Your Inner Control Freak and Learn to Let Things Go.
Links and Mentions:
To share your thoughts:
To help out the show:
- Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.
- Subscribe on iTunes or subscribe to our list now and never miss an episode or blog.
Transcript of this Episode
Read along with the podcast!
Communicator Academy Podcast #183
How to Do It All
Kathi – Well hey there, friends. Welcome to Communicator Academy, where our heart is to equip and encourage men and women to become the communicators God has created them to be. This is Kathi Lipp. I am the owner of Writing at The Red House and all things Clutter Free. I am super-thrilled. We’ve known each other for a while, out in the atmosphere, but we finally got to hang out at the coolest place in the world, which is a homeschooling conference. I mean, there is nothing cooler than that.
Susan – I think you could come up with a whole lot of cooler places than that, but we did our best.
Kathi – You know what? At this very cool homeschooling conference, not only did they have a homeschooling conference, but at the same hotel, right next to the stadium, was a Jimmy Buffet concert. When you think homeschoolers, you think Jimmy Buffet.
Susan – That is fabulous.
Kathi – I have Susan Seay here, and she is an author, a speaker. She is even a homeschooling mom, for nineteen years. Can I just say, if there were medals? If I had medals? You know what? I’ll give you a gold star. Remember those cheesy gold stars?
Susan – Oh, I’m here for it. I am.
Kathi – It’s so funny. I don’t know if you’ve met her. Cheri Gregory?
Susan – Nuh uh.
Kathi – Okay, so, she and I have been coauthors on several things, and English teacher, leaning towards perfectionist. She’s really dealt with her issues. She would be fine with me saying that, by the way. I knew. I can get her to do anything, if I have a gold star available. All I have to do is have a pack of gold stars, and she just needs to know she’s the best in the class. I could get her to commit larceny for me. I would not be a problem.
Susan – She’s all, “But was I the best, ‘though?”
Kathi – Exactly. “Was I the best at stealing?” Exactly. So, homeschooling mom for nineteen years. I mean, I know people who have done it for a while, but the reason you’ve done it for nineteen years is because you have seven children.
Susan – That’s exactly it.
Kathi – Here’s what I love about you. We were just talking about this. So many Christian communicators (and let’s just say women. Can we say that most Christian communicators that are running in our circles are women?) treat this as a hobby, not as a vocation. I know that’s not you. I know that you are down for business. You have got seven kids. I was going to say, “Some of them are not living at home.” But that is not true. Some of them are grown adults and they’re still living at home because they’re smart.
Susan – I’m doing the straddle. I’ve got ages 23-10 and it’s an interesting life. My parents actually live across the street, so we’ve got the aging parents in the dynamic as well. My son, who is 23, lives with them, so we call that the retirement home/dorm.
Kathi – You know, they are setting those up across the country, where they have dorms, where they have people who are in retirement homes, because they say that living together makes everybody healthier.
Susan – It really has been pretty amazing. I’m just glad to know we’re part of a trend. That’s what it is.
Kathi – You are leading the trend, my friend. Okay, so, you are homeschooling. How many are you homeschooling currently?
Susan – I am homeschooling four.
Kathi – Okay, so that’s all the kids I’ve ever had is four. Since you’ve had three kids, you’ve never had a man-on-man defense. It has always been double teamed.
Susan – Oh, for sure.
Kathi – You’ve got triple team plus one. Okay, here’s the reason I wanted to have you on. I’m sure this is the number one question you get is, “How do you do it all?”
Susan – Oh my, gosh.
Kathi – I already know one of the answers. You don’t. Right?
Susan – Easily. There’s just no way to do it all. It’s not possible.
Kathi – But, how do you stay a professional (this is my question) and a mom, especially to so many kids, and a wife, and I know that you are active in your husband’s business, or it’s your business. It’s not his business, it’s you guys doing it together.
Susan – Together, yep. It doesn’t make sense on a clock, I’m going to tell you right now.
Kathi – Okay, that makes me feel better.
Susan – We’ve got the same 24 hours. That doesn’t make sense, because I don’t do it all. I think when someone hears any of those titles, like, “You and your husband have your own business.” They see that as being a full time occupation, if you just focus there. Then, “You homeschool your kids?” That could be a fulltime plus job, right there, if you just focus there. So, how in the world does one person combine all of that into their lives, and continue to pursue them? I just say, “Here’s the simple thing. I don’t do all the things you might think of within each one of those.” It’s just not possible to do it and remain sane.
Kathi – Okay, so I love that you say it doesn’t make sense on paper. One of the things I try to do is focus, focus, focus, but I believe, honestly, what I am doing in my life, God has called me to. You can’t out-focus God. You can’t say, “You know what, God? I know you’ve called me to these four things, but I just need to focus, so I’m just going to do the three.” ‘Cause that’s called disobedience, and that’s not the camp I want to be sitting in. So, here’s my question. “Okay, so if you don’t do it all, how do you do it all and don’t do it all?”
Susan – What does it look like, right?
Kathi – So, the first thing you say is that you have a Don’t Do List. Okay, I need this in my life. Please tell me what this is.
Susan – Oh, this is fabulous. It’s a way of being honest about your truest capacity. When you’re a high capacity person, and you’re capable of so many things.
Kathi – Which, so many of my listeners are.
Susan – “Oh, I can do that!” and “I’ve always done it like that, and I’m going to keep doing it like that.” But when we say ‘yes’ to that next step that God wants us to take, it’s going to require us to take a moment and take inventory of what it is that we are no longer going to do. What’s going to be on that Don’t Do List? So, for me, last minute requests of “Hey, Susan! Can we get on the phone and talk for hours?” I used to have time for that. I don’t do that anymore. “Can we meet up for lunch?” which really means, we’re going to be gone for hours in the middle of the day? I cannot do that, right? There are all kinds of requests that come in via email. Of course, you know that once you have a platform. There are things that I want to do for people, but on my Don’t Do List, I have to put down anytime anyone asks me for something that’s shorter than three or four weeks of a window of turn around. I have to say ‘no’, because otherwise it means I’m not going to be able to honor the commitments I already have in motion.
Kathi – How do you set those boundaries? How do you give a gracious ‘no’? I think that’s a struggle for so many people.
Susan – It is difficult. I think it’s one that you get better at over time. Usually the people who are reaching out to me are people that I have relationship with. I want to do my best to communicate to them that I still love them. I value our relationship. It’s just that things need to look different at this point in time. I could really use their support as I continue to build my faith and courage to say, “Yes” to the things that God is asking me to do.
Kathi – I love what you mentioned before. It’s these requests that are saying, “Can you do this next week?” and it’s really interesting. I’m not exaggerating when I say this. Every single day this week, somebody has sent me a text message or Messenger on Facebook, “Hey, do you have five minutes where we can talk tomorrow?” Now, first of all, you know it has not been five minutes anytime I’ve done that. So, I need to figure out how to say, “You know what? I can’t do it tomorrow, but here’s a time that is open.” I need to give the alternative solution, which isn’t a ‘no’, it’s a ‘not right now’. That’s what you’re giving people. You’re not saying ‘no’, for the most part. There are some people we should say ‘no’ to, but this is a ‘not right now’. I love that you have that on your Do Not Do List. So, is that an actual, physical list you have?
Susan – It started out mentally, because I just needed to shift in a way that I would not put my hands on things. I was the one that would be quick to go, “Oh, I can get that done in five minutes.” Or “I could get that done real quick.” Or “That won’t take that much time.” Only to realize, at the end of the day, I spent most of my time and energy on things that weren’t my truest commitment, and when it was time for me to honor some deadlines or some other ideas that I wanted to spend some time on, I just didn’t have the energy anymore. I kept going, “What’s happening to my day? Where’s my time going?” I’d look back and go, “Well, yeah, I can see now that I was doing all these other things that popped up. I chased the little rabbits instead of going, ‘Is this hunting season?’ No? Then focus over here.”
Kathi – I hear this all the time. Mom’s saying, “It’s just easier for me to do it myself.” Yes, it’s easier that first time, and it’s easier the second time, but the third time? If you have trained your child and now they can unload the dishwasher? They may break a dish, it’s okay. That’s the cost of having cheap help.
Susan – Well, you know, we talk all the time about the cost of doing business. There’s different prices that we pay in order to run businesses, in order to do the things we need to do. So, absolutely, within our household, we’re going to have costs as well. Sometimes that looks like our time investment. Sometimes that looks like things that we love are no longer with us, because they’ve been shattered on the kitchen floor.
Kathi – I love it. Okay. So, first was a Don’t Do List and number two, Identify Your Inner Control Freak and Learn to Let Things Go. Okay, that sounds really easy. Let me ask you, have you ever been a control freak? ‘Cause I don’t know if we can take advice from someone who has been chill all their lives.
Susan – Oh, yeah. My inner control freak has taken up permanent residence. Whether I feed that control freak or not, that’s what I’m trying to manage day to day.
Kathi – Okay, so how do you do that? How do you identify the control freak, and how do you convince her to let things go?
Susan – So, I usually notice it when I see my kids’ eyebrows raise up as if they’re asking “Is she really okay?”
Kathi – Oh, my goodness.
Susan – Because I’m freaking out over whose sock is this on the living room floor? My voice is elevated and I kind of look around and am like, “Oh, I think that inner control freak is out again, isn’t she? Uh oh. My apologies. Let me back up.” Or, if I’m on my laptop, and I find myself pounding on the keys, instead of typing like a normal person? I’m convinced that if I hit this key hard enough, this picture on my website, that I’m trying to just get to sit in the middle of the screen and not shift for some weird reason, will actually do it if I just hit my keyboard hard enough. Then, I go, “Oh. I think that’s the inner control freak again.”
Kathi – So here’s my question, then. There’s wanting excellence in our homes, then there is the inner control freak who’s just being a tyrant to everybody. How do you know when it’s excellence, and how do you know when it’s tyrannical she-beast inside of you?
Susan – So, I think excellence is when you give it the best that you can and let that be enough. There’s a sense of acceptance and rest in that. When we push past, choosing to believe that what we’ve done is not enough? Therefore we need to add more on to it? That’s when we cross into our own ego, our own striving, instead of this resting place of accepting that what we’ve done is good enough. When we learn more, we can do better. When we have more time, we can improve upon that, but our first effort and our best effort? Let that be enough.
Kathi – I love that. To get to a place where enough is enough is a beautiful thing. It’s tough. It takes some age and it takes some wisdom, don’t you think?
Susan – Oh, it’s crazy hard. Especially when, if you’re like me, you have a picture in your mind of how you wanted this to turn out in the end. You believe that it’s possible. This is not that big a deal. Let’s go back to me with the website, where I’m trying to get the picture to be in this one spot. I’m like, “This should work. It should be that I can just put the picture in this frame. It should work. Why is it not working?” At some point, I have to ask myself, “How important is it for that picture to sit there in the middle?” No, I want the picture on the website. If it’s shifted over to the left, is anybody to have a whole issue about where this picture is placed? Or even know that I wanted it in a different place to start with? No.
Kathi – They’re going to think you’re so artistic. “Most people would put it in the middle, but not Susan. Susan does things differently.” That’s right. I love that.
Susan – Yeah, I think the picture off to the side is more reflective of my life, anyway, ‘cause we’re all just a little ‘off’, anyway.
Kathi – I love it. Okay, the first two things we’ve talked about: The Don’t Do List and Identifying Your Inner Control Freak. These are the ways you’ve figured out how to actually get the stuff done that need to get done. Susan has two other ideas for us, so Susan, I’m going to invite you back next week. So, those of us that are called to a different purpose than being home full time and God has called us to this Christian Communicator experience, I want to know, how do we get to this place? Because, most people listening don’t have seven kids. Bless them. Most of them are doing different things that you, but these are principles that are transferable to everybody. Please come back, because we’re going to talk a little bit more about a couple of ideas. The first thing we’re going to talk about is how to simplify. I want to know about this. Susan, thanks for being on Communicator Academy.
Susan – I’ve loved it. Thanks for having me.
Kathi – Okay, and friend, thank you for being here. You’ve been listening to Communicator Academy. I’m Kathi Lipp. You’ve been given the best message in the world. Now, go live it.
*see show notes in podcast post above for any mentioned item
Meet The Guest
Author, Speaker, Homeschool Mom
Hi there! I’m Susan.
I’m on a mission to help busy moms be intentional & live life on purpose.
I’m happily married to my college sweetheart and a veteran homeschool mom to 7 children: 1 boy and 6 girls.
I whole-heartedly believe that moms are managers of their homes. My passion is to reach out to moms around the globe via this site to encourage them to be intentional with their families.
My love of family and commitment to my faith are the pillars for everything I do.
I’m a real mom sharing my journey with a hope to encourage others along the way. It’s as simple as that.
A couple of my favorite things in this world are a good cup of chai (hmmm…yummy!) and a super fun 1000 piece puzzle.
Find out more about Susan here.
Meet Your Hosts
Author, Speaker, Communicator Academy Creator and CEO
Author, Speaker, Mastermind Coach