5 truths about balance
"I don’t even know what I did with my time before I had kids.”
You know this saying. You know it because you’ve heard people say it. You’ve most likely uttered it yourself on numerous occasions since becoming a parent, too.
It’s both a little sad and funny - because it’s true. There is nothing like the introduction of mini humans into your life to reinforce the scarcity of time.
And with less time inevitably comes the question of “How do I balance it all?”. I used to cringe when I'd get asked about 'balance'.
Like a lot of moms, the idea of 'balance' was non-existent when I when I returned to work full time after maternity leave. Gone were the long, rambling days of just me and my baby, replaced by what felt like an extreme fight-to-the-death Spartan-style race every. single. day.
(To be fair, I’ve never done a Spartan race and have absolutely no desire to ever do one. But if I did, I imagine competing in one might feel similar to going back to work after maternity leave.)
Balance felt elusive and I felt both guilt and FOMO when people talked about it like it was something I should have. But ‘balance’, while a difficult prospect, isn’t impossible. Here are 5 truths that have helped me define and create balance in my own life, especially since becoming a parent.
Balance is a mindset. Certainly, there are logistical aspects in your day-to-day life that can help you feel more or less balanced. But balance starts starts with being in the right frame of mind. That doesn’t mean you have to dismiss negative thoughts and feelings - on the contrary, it’s important to recognize them and call them what they are (rather than saying “I’m fine” as an answer to everything). Persistent, negative feelings are often a good indication of an area that needs more attention. Be open to what you’re feeling and how to address them.
Balance is subjective. This is a big one. You must define what balance looks like for you. It is different for everyone. There is not one mold or ideal. Do not compare yourself to other mothers or what you see on TV or social media. Stop listening when people tell you what balance is supposed to look like. Only you can decide what balance means for you.
Balance is not a fixed destination. It is inevitable that as our kids grow (and so do we), our lives will change and so will our priorities and what we need to focus on to strive for balance. Unfortunately, we can’t just arrive at balance and then expect to stay there. It’s an ever-evolving tenuous state that requires our attention. Just as we get things figured out in one area of our life, undoubtedly, something else will change that will force us to re-examine everything and recalibrate.
Balance is not easy. In fact, it will probably be hard. We won’t always get it right. We will make wrong turns and regret certain decisions. It’s all a part of the process that is constantly teaching us what is most important to us. The constant work towards balance won’t be easy, but it’s so much better than the alternative.
Balance requires strength and flexibility. Being balanced requires that you have strong boundaries - what are you willing to do? What are you strongly against? Firm boundaries will protect your time and energy. At the same time, things always change because life happens, so you have to remain flexible when the need arises.
Remember, there is no one yellow-brick road that leads to balance. It’s something you have to create and curate for yourself.
I’d love to know how you worked to find balance in your own life. What shifts or changes did you have to make to focus on what was most important to you?