Balancing would be a little easier if mom life was more like one of those classic weighing scales where you could easily see which side was overloaded and pick something to drop or add which would magically bring everything back into balance. For me, it looks more like one of those run away conveyor belts in a factory. Some days it runs smoothly right down the line with tasks plopped down just so; workout complete, kids delivered to school, arrive at the office on time, productive day, dinner on the table at 6, family time with happy kids, bedtime by 9. Reality is most days the belt seems to get faster and faster until pieces begin to fall out of place or off the belt completely.
A younger me was much more rattled by the inability to control my day. The desire to be a woman with a successful career and the “perfect” mom often led to me putting one way ahead of the other. If I was feeling like an all star at work, you can bet my mom life was feeling the pinch. My “big” kids can probably tell you I was anal about my house, irritable and snippy, and way to concerned with what others thought. After adding two more babies the choice was definitely let go of the reigns a bit or lose my mind.
Here are a few tips which have worked to help balance my career and my family life without feeling like a loser!
I’ve been very fortunate to have bosses along the way who have been very pro-family. Having a schedule at work which compliments my day is huge but even then sometimes things do not go as planned. There will always be that forgotten lunch, the sick child (or mom) or the emergency at work. It never fails, my kids can be sick one day a year and it will always be on the day I have some project due at work. Learning to be flexible will keep you from panicking in a pinch.
My kids are fully aware my job is important for our family. Being responsible for making it to school with everything they need is part of their responsibility, not mine. They know if they forget their lunch I may or may not be able to bring another and eating at school may be the alternative. Likewise, if they forget schoolwork or supplies for school I typically offer one time a year when I will rush back home and deliver to school. I do my best to keep up with the laundry but if they know a special item is needed for school it is up to them to make sure it is brought to my attention before the day it’s needed. The mornings are always the busiest so I also remind them to bring anything needing to be signed to me the night before. Nothing can make momma crazy like walking in the bathroom with a paper that needs to be signed when I’m trying to get dressed for work.
Be Content in Your Season
No, this does not mean being happy with your closet. We all have different seasons in life; the beginning of a career, the birth of babies, single parenting, teenagers, etc. No two are the same and sometimes you have to recognize what works during one season might not necessarily work for the next. There will be years when dinner at home every night is perfectly orchestrated and there will be years when you family is running in 4 different directions and you are lucky to meet up for fast food at 9pm on a school night. Recognize your season and learn to focus on what is most important. I personally love volunteering but during certain seasons this has to take the backseat or I will drowned trying to do it all.
Even if you only need like 6 hours of sleep every night, there still are only a set number of hours each day. Being realistic about what can be accomplished during those waking hours is so important. This is an area I still fail at often. Despite my best attempt at making lists I somehow still fail to assign the proper amount of time to tasks at hand. Prioritizing the items definitely helps but at the end of the day what really matters most is the health and well being of my family and myself. Sometimes just making it through the day with everyone’s basic needs being met is my reality. It really helps me to have a week at a glance view of our schedule so I do not try to fit in some crazy organizational project at the same time there are school projects and multiple sporting events coming my way.
You do You
The biggest advice I have is you do you! Do not compare your day to any one else’s. Determine what is important for your family, be intentional with your time, beg for grace when things fall apart and remember tomorrow is a new day. Volunteering is something I love and it fills me up and makes me a better mom and wife but some people would much rather be home working on algebra and that is fine. One of the hardest things for me was wanting to be a super nurturing mom who prepared beautiful lunch boxes with sweet notes every day when my kids are all super independent and honestly prefer to make their own. Letting go of all those ideas in my head of what a “super” woman should be is huge.
Believe me, even the woman out there you envy who you believe is “doing it all” is not doing it all! Pick your battles, be the best you everyday and give yourself some grace.