Ten More Thoughts on Finding Balance, My Own Thoughts and the Thoughts of Some Mom Friends, OR The Longest Post EVER
1. We all deal with the issue of finding balance, and we all have different ways of dealing....or not.
I asked some mom friends, dear friends I've known in cyber-world since we were pregnant with our just-turning-seven-year-olds, for their thoughts on finding balance. I got wonderful, thoughtful, honest, inspiring, articulate answers.
2. Josie's got so many creative ways to fit things in to her life that I'm pasting lots of her ideas (with some editing for names). You're my hero, Jos.
"Your answer is mine as well... it depends. It depends on if someone is ill, or if it is their birthday week, or if the moon is slightly tilted on its axis and lastly, if the day ends in a Y."
"One thing that I have found balance with is laundry... I do a load every morning... EVERY SINGLE EFFING MORNING. I put one in the washer, move one to the dryer and the one in the dryer I do not put in a basket.. oh no... that was my downfall. I now fold that load as I remove each piece from the dryer. Then if I have to place it in a basket folded I do but I try to get the kids to put theirs up every morning."
"Fun... I have no problem balancing fun. I make a game out of dusting with the boys... who can get the table the shiniest? Who can put their toys away the fastest? The winner gets to vaccuum the loser gets to clean the sinks."
"Ummm extended family. I make it a point to call my Mother and Father at least twice a week if not more. I talk to my Mom nearly daily."
"Sports, this is where my downfall is. The boys are very active in sports and now cub scouts. So dh does practices, I do scouts, and we both do games. Also any school outing such as all school skates, etc we both go."
"Food... dh does the cooking during the week I cook on the weekends."
"Work... (notice I put this last) as my family is always first or should I say second after my faith in God. I do work daily, but that is not necessarily my priority that day. For example today, I must fill out the invitations for J's party. I will do it on a conference call that I am just listening on. It probably should not be this low on priorities but it is."
"Ummm reading is high on my priorities for my kids so I do make it a point to read to my children daily, whether it be at the breakfast table of to them as they go to sleep. Sometimes it is a very very short story."
I love that fun is high on Josie's priority list, especially fun ways to get some of the un-fun things done. I forget. I forget, I forget, I forget. Then I smack myself on the forehead because if we aren't finding, and teaching, joy in the simple tasks...well, part of this whole balance thing is that it's about getting through all of the little tasks we've got to do. As long as we're on the ride, we may as well enjoy it, right?
3. Maggie wrote: "I am really good at balancing everybody's elses lives. I put myself dead last on a priority list so I have no reason to complain that I don't have enough time for me. I want the kids to live full, happy lives so I make sure they are enrolled in activities, have playdates, we make homework and learning fun and I give them as much quality time as possible on a regular basis. Housework is squeezed in whenever possible." She goes on to say, "I struggle daily with balance. I know what I want to do and I have good intentions but it seems I always get the short end of the stick. I suppose to find balance you have to say no or not feel guilty for making yourself a priority. You also need a partner that is willing to step up the plate and do more when you want to do less."
Michaele said, along that line, "This has been a TERRIBLE struggle with me lately! I am a Mom, Teacher, Wife and person in that order. I need some free time and time alone but don't get it. Whether it's me not making it a priority or it really isn't feasible I don't know."
Maggie and Michaele are singing my song, and far more articulately than I. I have good intentions too, and I feel guilty for not making more "me" time. But time is not infinite. When we prioritize our time, sometimes we just plain run out by the time we get to the bottom of the list, and all of the self-righteous "Well, you've just got to make time" folks cannot make an extra day appear on the calendar or stop the clock for an hour so that Mom can go take a nap.
4. I love Melly because she admitted that she'd like to hide in the back of the UPS truck some days. Plus she's pretty and kind and thinks carefully about what she wants for her family.
She wrote, "What has worked for me most recently is the theory (and practice, lol) that finding balance in life has to be about the big picture. Not each hour, each day, each week or month but about our whole life. Now, I do understand that tomorrow is promised to no one, and I do want to live in the 'now' but I am also a planner."
She continues, "As a whole I feel like finding balance comes down to 2 things (for me). Being creative with what I have, and being selfless. I feel best and "feel" most balanced when I reflect on my days, figure out ways to make them better by doing things in new and different ways, and give of my time, energy and love....No, it isn't easy, and there are days I feel hiding in the back of the UPS truck when it comes and just riding around for awhile. Then I remember I am human and part of balance is knowing that there is going to be bad with the good. "
Lovely. Melly, I am totally inspired by what you've written.
5. Umm....reading my mind?
Lisa says, "I think I spend so much of the time feeling out of balance because I am always taking on new things and don't manage my time well. The uneasy feeling or stress from all of the unfinished items on my personal and/or family"to do list" often makes me short-tempered or grouchy with the kids and dh. But I know when I don't have much on my plate, I tend to start feeling down."
I struggle with this balance as well. Too much to do, I feel overwhelmed. Not enough, I sink into a funk and it's not pretty.
6. Ilka says, "I try to be wonder woman, but it is not working."
Are we trying too hard to "have it all"? Am I? Well....uh, no....heh, heh. Of course not. In my hard-won wisdom I know perfectly well that it's not possible to have it all. Don't I? Actually, when I read Ilka's blog, I started thinking about this July Poohsticks post, which starts out:
"So I'm outside picking peas in the garden and I start thinking about how I haven't gotten much done today. Keep in mind that a) I said to loving husband just this morning, "We've been so busy lately. Let's not do anything today, let's just hang out and have fun," and b) As I'm thinking this, I'm working in the garden."
Why are we so hard on ourselves? I know that, among other things, Ilka works full-time, has three beautiful strong girls, coaches soccer, and does all of the wife-and-mom stuff that we all have to do. You're Wonder Woman to me, girl.
7. Lisa again, in response to another post : "None of them are leading perfect lives, and I doubt when they look at you they see you as struggling either."
We forget that we're comparing our insides to others' outward appearances, apples to oranges, how we feel about the complex juggling act that we know to be our lives with the seemly smooth confidence we see in the women around us. I don't think most of us see life as a competition, exactly, but it's so easy to start comparing ourselves with those around us and create an impossible mental picture of what our lives are "supposed" to be. I've fallen into the comparison trap, maybe a little tongue-in-cheek, but it's so easy to start looking at what others accomplish and start to doubt ourselves.
8. A sense of humor is important.
Julie R.: "...and and and...wait, ya, I have no balance."
Dawn: "Balance? ha, ha. I think I live on a see-saw."
And Laura again: "And the floor is never as important as playing with the kids unless one of the kids is actually stuck to the floor and cannot be removed. Then it's time to mop." (Laura assures me that no one in her house has actually stuck to the floor, which is a cryin' shame because I was hoping that I was not the only one.)
9. Julie K. wrote: "My life lately is work and kids. With our schedules, it seems like dh takes one and I take the other and we meet up for a late dinner after practices. We might eat at 8:30 2 or 3 nights/week, but we're all together at a table somewhere."
I love that. Finding ways to stay connected makes things just...balance.
10. Laura, one of the most balanced women I know online or in real life, wrote: "I am an enthusiastic participant in life - this means I over commit and bite off more than I can chew regularly. So does my DH. It's a good and a bad thing. The good thing about balance is it's a work in progress. We're not static, we're more like the juggler guys on the board on tha can - we get to keep constantly adjusting until it works. The down side to that is even when it feels right we STILL have to keep adjusting."
Yes, yes, yes. Even when it feels right....life is a state of constant flux. If we want to keep things feeling right we must shift our balance again and again. Not only are we trying to maintain our balance, we're trying to predict which way we need to shift next.
And the image of juggling AND balancing, Laura, you hit the nail on the head right there. It made me want to laugh and maybe to cry a little too. We have to keep our eyes on what we've got in the air and shift, shift, shift our feet.
It's all...well, mostly... good, but it ain't all easy.
And, dang. I'm going to be bored once this part of the ride is over.