The Balancing Act
Let's just get to it. Life for me as a middle-aged woman, feels like an ongoing roller coaster. Between the normal (and unexpected) day to day household responsibilities, to children, to work, to health and wellness, to school obligations … the list could go on, not to mention our daily additional "to do" lists. I don't know how many times I have thought to myself, "How can I keep up?" With a husband that travels most weeks, I often find myself running in circles. Did I pay all the bills this week? Are the kids' school forms for next year finished? Have I heard back from our plumber? Ugh, HELP.
About a year ago, I found myself in a bad place, thinking I couldn't keep up. How do I stay balanced? How can I keep my head above water with all these things to do, children to pick up, meetings to attend? It took some soul searching and self-discipline, but I have finally created some (some!) balance in my life. It has not only helped me internally; but it has also helped everyone around me as well because let's face it when I feel balanced, I'm less of a nutty person.
Make Time For Yourself
One of the best things I have ever added to my daily "to do" list is time for myself. For a long time, when my children were infants, there were days I wouldn't even make time to shower, nevertheless have any human interaction beyond a six-month-old. That lifestyle eventually drove me into the ground. So now, I carve a minimum of one hour out of the day where I do something for myself, something I want to do. Yes, WANT. I don't count a bi-monthly hair appointment or grocery shopping without children as a WANT. Those are needs. I'm talking about having a cup of coffee with a friend, a stroll around my favorite store at the mall, or going to an exercise class. This hour has been therapeutic in so many ways and helped get me through the chaotic hours that surround it. And, before you say, "there's NO WAY I have an hour to focus on myself each day," I want to challenge you on that. There's no way you DON'T have an hour to focus on yourself. Try it for a week and tell me if you didn't feel better and get more done with the day overall because you were in a better head space and heart space. Just try it.
Ask For Help
Another thing I learned is how to delegate. As a type A, Gen X female, I forever had the mentality of "I can do it myself." I can remember my mother coming to help me a few weeks after my son was born (my daughter was just three). My husband had been gone since the week he was born, and frankly, I looked like hell. For any new mom, I don't need to describe this look, but I imagine it's how one looks after a really really long night out in your twenties (under eye bags, smeared makeup, hair like a rat's nest). The house looked amazing; the laundry was done, the babies were happy … but I hadn't slept, barely ate, and was at my wit's end. My mom basically shoved me into my room and locked it so I could shower and sleep. It was then that I put my pride aside and realized I needed help.
From that point on, we had a part-time sitter and/or grandparent nearby. Sitters are expensive, so you may have had to cut back on something in your lifestyle, but your sanity is worth skipping a few dinners out or manicures. Delegate – whether it's to help with kids, household chores, or errands. Asking for help will keep you balanced, but more so, healthy inside and out. Your sanity has a value.
Just Say, "No"
The last piece of advice I can give any woman is to find the power to say, "no." We put so much pressure on ourselves to do everything. In my daughter's early years of school, I often over-committed myself. I was new to the school and town, so I accepted roles such as the annual "Room Helper," said yes to every ladies' lunch request, agreed to take over the household finances all while having a new home to unpack and caring for my infant son. Whew. It makes me dizzy just thinking about it all. So, I have grown the ability to say "no" to things. Having young children is amazing, but it is exhausting. I learned to volunteer for an activity, but not every activity. Friends are great, but if a two-hour lunch gives you anxiety with how much you have to do afterward, ask for a rain check for a day, your spouse or help can watch the kids. And, household chores – ugh. If you are a stay at home mom, you can't run a home without help. Take something off your plate, whether it is finances, yard work, cleaning, or cooking. Your budget may or may not allow you to say "no" to everything and hire outside help, but if you can, outsource part of at least one thing even if it's signing up for a kid's meal subscription service to alleviate the constant "short order cook" role.
Achieving life balance is super hard. Everyone's lives are chaotic, and the second you feel like you're on top, you get the call from the school nurse, the AC breaks, or your annual check-up goes from thirty minutes to three hours. Take a deep breath, sit back, and assess. How can you create balance? What do you need to feel like you can do it? Hopefully, my tips help because the only way you can keep your family's life orchestrated is if you are on your A game. Creating life balance for yourself will only create happiness for you and everyone around you. 🖤
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