Are you laughing out loud? I know I know the thought of finding balance in life makes me laugh too. But stay with me here, it is possible! At the beginning of the summer I felt like a complete crazy person. Juggling the many hats and daily responsibilities of a working mom and wife can often be a challenge. I said to my husband during one particularly bad day ” I feel like I cannot be successful in every area of my life at the same time. I can either be a good mom, a great home maker, a present wife OR be effective at work. I cannot do it all. It feels impossible.” The truth was I needed to unburden myself from the expectations I pushed onto myself and seek a true balance throughout it all.
Here are 10 steps I use on the road to becoming a whole balanced person.
- Prioritize. On a piece of paper or in your head, make a note of the roles you play in your life. So for me it would be; Mom, wife, employee, dog owner, sister, daughter, etc. Once you have them all written down, rank them in order of importance. Sometimes we do not realize which area of our life is truly the most important until we visualize it. Let this step guide you the rest of the way.
- Organize. This is crucial, and should be customized in a way that will help you with your individual needs. My sister lives for a paper agenda, and I am guilty of paying $20 for a beautiful one that I never use, however with my on the go lifestyle my phone is the best tool for keeping my day organized. I highly recommend utilizing the calendar application on your phone. I create a calendar for each category, color coding them for easy visibility; one for work, one for family and even one for My Sister Said What. I schedule my day from wake to sleep and can share the calendar when necessary. (like when my husband cannot remember the bus drop off time) What are some tools you can use to help stay organized?
- Plan Ahead. The more you know right? This is where prioritizing and organization are key. Take the time to update your schedule or calendar as far ahead as you can. Make small notes of changes and coordinate with your partner so that you stay on the same page. Make plans in advance to avoid double booking yourself or paying a bill twice or forgetting to bring the school supplies you signed up for 3 weeks ago.
- Create a Routine. This was one of the first steps I took at the beginning of this process. My daughter really benefits from a set routine, and what works best for her works best for our sleep, I mean the household. I created a routine for the most hectic parts of our days which included, a morning routine, an after school routine, and a bedtime routine. Mornings are the WORST, but it is a team sport. We made a plan and we stick to it as much as possible, which over time has become beneficial to all three of us. How can you create easy to follow routines throughout your day?
- Take care of YOURSELF. This part is tricky… that mommy guilt is real y’all. However, I cannot stress enough how important it is to carve out time in each day for yourself. These can be small quiet moments, or long lunches with friends. Drink your coffee while it is still HOT, go to the bathroom alone. (I’m looking at you dogs!) Take time to work out, eat a snack, read a book, those around you will thank you for it. I found that my patience stretches a bit farther if I am taking better care of myself. An analogy I really love is; pretend you are on an airplane.. put your oxygen mask on first, and then help those around you. No one is going to like a decaffeinated crazed lunatic, and they certainly will not take you seriously.
- Share the Load. This is a tough one for me. My husband recently began working from home. This, while actually great for our family, felt like a violation, like my territory was under attack. What do you mean your going to help get her ready for school? What do you mean you are taking her to dance? Back off man, THAT’S MY JOB! I was absolutely crazed because I did not want my husband to steal any of the special one on one time I had with our daughter. Meanwhile I was barely afloat, drowning in to-do lists and spreadsheets. Eventually, I learned to let go a bit. My husband is my partner who should be able to share the parenting load with me without my bad attitude. And his help made it easier to find the balance I had been lacking.
- Make Tough Choices. Often times I find myself double booked. Either I have a work committment, or a school function, or a gymnastics class to watch, etc. If my super powers do eventually show themselves, I hope it is in the form of teleportation or time manipulation. Until then, when over scheduled, something has got to go. It is ok to make these tough choices, and it is also ok to make the selfish choice of attending girls night. Well-rounded people, well-rounded.
- Expect the Unexpected. It is going to happen to you, and often. You have your day all lined up, you are prepared (and caffeinated), and ready to go, when a deadline gets pushed up, or a kid comes home sick, or you run out of gas and your brother has to come rescue you. I digress. Do not let yourself get derailed by the unexpected. Just do what you have to do. Your schedule and to-do lists can be rescheduled. It is ok to be human, at least until those super powers kick in.
- Take Control. Are you waiting for someone to tell you what to do? Are you waiting for someone to set your priorities for you? Are you letting someone else lead the way? Stop. It is your life. It is up to you to take control. No one else can tell you what a balanced life means for you specifically. Make a goal, or several, and go get it. If there is an area in your life that is lacking, fix it,make time for it, research it. No one can live your life but you.
- Love Your Life. It is all to easy to get bogged down with the stuff you have to do each day, but try to take the time to enjoy your life. Get outside and play tag with your kids, take a weekend away with your friends or partner, try all those Tasty recipes your mom keeps posting. I am guilty of participating in the “what’s next” lifestyle, but I have found that taking a moment to be still, and be thankful, can be really eye-opening.
The bottom line is, it is YOUR life, so live it! The reality is that every day will be different. Some days are harder than others and I certainly do not win them all. Some days end with a full bag of chips and 4 episodes of Game of Thrones. However by using these steps as a tool, and striving for true balance, I feel ready and more equipped to live the life I love.