ARE YOU LIVING A BALANCED LIFE?
And look! With my tail I can hold a red fan! I can fan with the fan as I hop on the ball! But that is not all. Oh, no. That is not all…” – from the Cat in the Hat by Dr Seuss.
Ever have those days when you feel like the Cat in the Hat, right after he’s dropped his bundle, creating an enormous mess?
We all have them. It’s the nightmare we create when we try to do too much and forget about keeping the balance in our lives.
This is especially true of mothers. We become so busy caring for the kids, the home, our jobs, our partners, our parents, our friends….sometimes we’re just juggling too many things and they all fall down in a heap. So do we.
CREATING A HAPPY BALANCE
Creating balance in our lives takes discipline and a certain amount of skill.
When my own children were young I kept thinking; “I’ll have time to do that for myself when they’re older”.
Well, guess what? They’re older and I feel like I have less time than ever.
My three sons have moved out of home. They have their own partners and jobs and busy lives. You’d think now that I’m not cleaning up their toddler messes, taking them to after school activities, fretting about their teenage shenanigans, that I’d have luxurious amounts of time to indulge in my own whims. Think again.
Before I even had an empty nest I had a granddaughter. And pretty soon after, two more. A few months ago we welcomed a new granddaughter into the world. It’s all very pretty and pink and I’m happy BUT, I wish more than ever I had worked on healthy balance habits when I was younger instead of assuming life would create the calm for me.
I’m still cleaning toddler messes. I’ll probably take those granddaughters to after school activities when they’re older and I know I will fret about their teenage shenanigans.
Creating and keeping balance in life does not come naturally to me. I tend to tackle challenges with blinders on – only focusing on the particular challenge of the moment – letting the rest of the world pass by without even noticing. I think I miss I lot.
When the kids were young I chose to stay home with them. I couldn’t imagine being able to split my attention between them and a career (except for a few random jobs in times of financial emergency). I don’t regret this decision but I cheer on my daughters in law who have created some balance by working part time. The work gives them a break from the children, a chance to have grown up conversations, an extra sense of pride and a little financial freedom.
My ideal of a healthy balance in life is fitting in some ‘me’ time around work and babysitting duties. I strive for this constantly and sometimes do quite well. Then some family drama will distract my attention or I’ll become obsessed with a major work project and before I know it I’m in the old habit. It’s a work in progress.
While I may not always manage to keep that healthy balance I have learned some tips and tricks along the way that I know create a less chaotic life.
TIPS AND TRICKS THAT REALLY WORK TO KEEP A HEALTHY BALANCE
WALKING WORKS WONDERS
When the weather allows, a daily walk, with or without the grand-kids, makes all the difference to my headspace. When I’m walking I’m not looking at the home jobs that need to be done. I’m not worrying whether I’ve followed enough SEO rules to get visitors to my blog. This is not about fitness and weight loss (though they can be side benefits). It’s a time for mindfulness, for stopping and smelling the roses, a time out – something we all deserve…and need.
LISTS ARE AMAZING
I’m a bit of as list person. I write lists for everything.
THE JOB LIST
Job lists are great as there’s no better feeling than ticking off an item when it’s done. The job list helps keep you focused. Instead of starting something, then stopping to do something else you see needs doing, you finish one job and tick it off. You can always add that extra thing you saw to your list so you won’t forget it. Job lists include things that must be done like feed the cat, feed the kids, go to work, wash clothes. Start with the most important things, ending with things you’d like to do. For example, ‘put fresh flowers in a vase on the hall stand’ –it’s not vital to surviving the day, but it will make it more pleasant. Try to spread the important ones over a few days so you have time to do some of the things you want to do each day. There are two other lists that are very useful. A PRIORITY list and a FOCUS list.
THE PRIORITY LIST
This is the practical one. It lists the goals you want to achieve in order of importance. It could start with something like ‘save money for a holiday in June’ or ‘have 1000 likers on Facebook in a month’, or ‘start practising habits to create a healthy balance’. Again, writing it in a list helps keep your head focused so your mind doesn’t wander. How much time, time that could be ‘me’ time, do you waste thinking about what you should be doing?
THE FOCUS LIST
This one’s more important and should probably be done first as it will change the tone of your priority list. Ask yourself what’s really important to you. Every mother out there will probably answer it’s their kids.
I have nearly 30 years of mothering experience and one thing I’ve learned for sure in that time is that you are a better mother to your kids when you look after yourself. When you are happy and living with a healthy balance, you focus better on everything, kids included. You are also setting the most amazing example on how to create that balance for your children. The big secret to this is finding the time. It’s impossible for us to do everything. That means saying ‘no’ to some things and letting others go. The focus list will help you determine what is most important in your life and should include some ‘selfish’ goals.
I’ve learned that you can’t have everything and do everything at the same time.
YOU CAN’T PLEASE EVERYONE ALL OF THE TIME
Don’t be a people pleaser. The truth is haters are going to hate and you can’t please everybody all the time, so don’t try. It is absolutely OK to say ‘no’ to things you do not have time for. And it is equally OK to do this without wasting time feeling guilty about it. I so wish I’d learned this one decades ago as I believe you owe it to your children to set priorities and therefore examples that include fun and pampering for yourself.
PAMPER TIME IS PARAMOUNT FOR BALANCE
Set aside a little ‘pamper’ time each week. Do your nails, have a facial, give yourself a hair treatment, get a massage, meditate. Whatever it is that makes you feel a bit special. Keep the glamour in your life and you can achieve that healthy balance.
DON’T WASTE TIME STRESSING – START AGAIN
If all your good intentions and planning go to hell because of unexpected intrusions to your day, don’t waste time stressing or feeling bad. Pick yourself up, brush yourself off and start again.
Wishing you a healthy balance and a gleeful life, Tamuria.