November 7, 2011

Feathers and Stone: Balance


Balance, such a delicate thing. Think about it, a feather thrown onto one scale throws off the balance. A feather. Life rarely hands us feathers, instead casting stones if not boulders in our direction.

Mom and I have each tackled the idea of balance before: Mom's What the... You Want Me to Do What? and my The Delicate Balancing Act of Life. We both agreed on the importance of finding balance, but neither of us came to an easy conclusion on how to achieve it.

One thing I've learned, striving for daily balance is near to impossible. Overall balance judged on a weekly or monthly basis is a more reasonable target. There are some days all your effort goes into putting out fires. Other days, you give into the need to smell the roses and simply relax. Admittedly, these moments are often forced on us by a snow day or sickness.

My biggest obstacle to balance, guilt. It's my boulder. Some have it, others don't. Maybe the key to achieving balance is ridding yourself of guilt. If I work all day, I feel guilty about not spending time with my husband, children, and friends. If I play all day, the work stacks up and taunts me. And let's not even mention the dust bunnies and dirt laughing at me from every corner of the house.

Making family time is akin to healthy eating habits... you just have to do it. No, I don't want to balance my sugar intake. I want to be my perfect weight, exercise when I feel like it, and eat whatever I crave when I crave it. Ah, if only life worked that way.

Putting guilt aside, because we all have to find our own ways of dealing with it, the best thing you can do to make family time is schedule it. I schedule my work with prioritized to-do lists, because without those I'd sit and look at an overwhelming pile and be lost.

Same can be said of family, friends, and husband time. From Friday night to Sunday night, I schedule a date with each of my children. For example, Friday nights after her swim practice, my middle daughter and I go to Starbucks (her choice) and chat for an hour. Every week. The first Friday, I was exhausted and not looking forward to it. But she was giddy. She asks me every week if we are still doing Fridays. We haven't missed one yet.

Dedicated time for family and husband works the same way. Schedule a night out with the girls or a dinner with hubby. The hours before and after may be a mad scramble, but the moments with your husband and friends will be worth it.

Finally, work. I've started making a to-do list based on three factors: what has to be done that day, what should be done in the next week, and what can wait. Then comes focus. I work from home, so it's difficult to walk away at 5pm.

When my six-year-old told me she hated the computer and wanted to smash it, I took it to heart. I close the computer from the time I pick the kids up at the bus stop to the time my husband takes them up to bed. Then I work for another hour or so before making time to sit down with hubby and watch a television show.

There's no perfect solution to finding balance, but one thing I know for sure... it won't work itself out. Be proactive, take on the challenge, and a modicum of balance you will find. Funny, I think I just had a Yoda moment. But I digress, start small and build. Handle the inevitable unforeseen and get back to the plan.

Good luck!

What's your best tip for finding balance between your work life, children, and relationships?

4 comments:

Nanny Nonya said...

you are wise for your years!

Unknown said...

Thank you, Nanny. Too often it's easier to come up with a plan than to execute it, but it's a start!

I appreciate you stopping by and commenting.

Beth said...

I really like the idea of dedicated one-on-one time with each child -- I need to do more of that.

Unknown said...

Me, too. It's my goal every weekend. Reagan's is set in stone on Friday nights. Again, the better scheduled I am about it the more likely it is to happen. I need to get J&M as scheduled.