4 Principles to Help Achieve Balance and Keep Your Sanity
Jeanne Elium, author of Raising a Daughter, has been quoted as saying “Working women today are trying to achieve in the work world what men have achieved, but men have always had the help of a woman at home, who took care of all the other details of living! Today, the working woman is also that woman at home.”
As a single mom, that’s a thought I’ve had more times than I can count. How great would it be to have a wife? Not a husband, my experience with that is they need management too. A wife, somebody who just knows what needs to be done and does it without needing acknowledgement or praise.
Managing work, kids, schedules, activities AND the household is a tough gig. So often, I feel like every second of every day is accounted for. I can picture myself as one of those plate spinning entertainers, constantly checking each plate to make sure it still going and evaluating which one is most likely to go crashing to the floor, doing my best to keep them all going at the same time.
I can’t claim I have the secret to success but I can share a few principles that I’ve learned along the way and have found to help.
- Guard your time. Time is the gating factor for me. There is never enough. I used to feel compelled to say “Yes” to nearly every request and invitation. Play dates, birthday parties, dinner invitations, etc. I felt obligated. What I’ve learned is that saying “No thanks, it won’t work this time” is ok. It allows me to really enjoy the things that I say “Yes” to because I can plan to be fully present.Have you ever experienced a day where you race from one lesson to the next, grabbing lunch for the kids and a birthday present along the way, wrapping the present in the car as you fly into a parking lot just minutes before a birthday party is to start? Then watching the clock and calculating the record breaking trip you need to make to get home in time to make dinner, shower and get ready before the sitter arrives so you can be at an event that you’ve committed to and don’t even want to go to anymore because you’re exhausted just thinking about it? If this sounds familiar, you may need to think about more carefully guarding your time
- Delegate. I have a to-do list that regenerates every morning regardless of how much I accomplished the day before. There is always going to be something that needs doing. In my opinion, the ability to delegate is definitely a learned behavior and one I continue to struggle with. There have been times when I didn’t have anybody to delegate to and turned to external resources for help. A personal organizer for example can come in and help get your kitchen in order and it may be the best $100 you spend all month. Other times, I have had people willing to help, but I’ve needed to learn to be specific and tell them exactly what they can do and then be willing to step back and let them do it. As hard as it is, we just can’t do everything and I think it’s better to stop trying.
- Take time for yourself. A mentor once told me “Putting yourself first is the least selfish thing you can do for others”. She made the point that if we don’t take care of ourselves we won’t have anything left for the people who need us – so not only is it good for us, it’s required of us.Granted this has become easier as my kids have grown and become more self-sufficient but understanding the benefits of creating time for myself makes me wish I had embraced this principle long before I did. We as moms need time away and shouldn’t feel guilty asking for and taking it. Even if it’s only an hour to go for a run or sit and have a cup of coffee it’s time that allows our brains to reboot so we can come back refreshed.
- Be ok with good enough. Some might call me a perfectionist. Others may say I have some quirky, OCD like tendencies. There was definitely a time when you could feel very comfortable eating off my kitchen floor. But I’ve started to relax and guess what – it’s ok! The floor might not be spotless at all times and I can admit to having served cheerios for dinner. It’s not perfect, but it doesn’t need to be. I’ve learned that life goes on, dirty floor or not, and I’m happier when I don’t stress about it. So the next time you feel like your plates are starting to fall, take a minute, breath and refocus on the things that really matter.