This, my friends, is the most commonly asked question from working mother to working mother –
How do you balance it all?
What I’ve learned, so far anyway, is that you really can’t. All you can do is take it moment by moment, day by day, week by week, and pray for the best.
But some moments, days and weeks just simply don’t work. Part of what makes it all so hard to balance is that when us mommas try to make priority lists, we can’t seem to find the bottom. Everything might as well be written with the number “1” next to it, because it’s all IMPORTANT.
Trying to put kids before work, or work before kids, or self before work or husband before kids, or anything in between, simply just isn’t possible. Throw in friends’ celebrations of insta fame, family phone calls about which tea to buy and delivering too-small diapers to the local shelter, and you miss the mark on everything, it seems.
Yet somehow, we find a way. Each night, we go to bed, our kids and our husbands and our selves fed (pretty much), clean (pretty much), and loved (a lot).
But, I ask again, HOW?
The day to day balance of it all not only takes practice, but discipline. And a whole lot of self-awareness, I’m coming to realize. And that’s not easy stuff. Realizing that you set yourself up for a small disaster that morning is not an easy thing to swallow, and neither is knowing that you ate that donut when you should have had an egg.
Pay for that later.
I’m not saying, in any way, that I have this down. Not even a little. But I have managed to stay pretty much afloat, and for that, I can only attribute success to God. However, I have been able to figure out and enact some “protocol” if you will, that has helped be balance motherhood and working, so I thought I’d share.
First, I always assume that things are going to go according to plan.
If I don’t, then I end up taking too much time, energy and resources out of the rest of my day to plan for something that may or may not happen. For example, if the plan is to drop Joey off at daycare at 8:15 and not pick him up until 5:30 to go straight home, then I don’t pack an extra set of clothes for him, my sling, or any snacks.
But what if the plan goes awry? Well, I’ll get to that.
Second, I give myself as much “me” time as I think I need.
Whether it’s none, 15 minutes or two hours, I always give myself that grace. Sometimes I’m excited to get right to work, so I don’t take much downtime, if any. Other days, I need a moment alone with coffee, or I have the urge to write, or I am worried about a friend that needs to vent. I take that time, no questions, no apologies. It keeps me human, sane and healthy.
But what if there really is NO TIME? Well, I’ll get to that.
Third, I never schedule things day-of.
I try, really hard, to not make last minute plans. UNLESS it’s something I really, really want to do. But so long as I keep my schedule as it stood that morning when I woke up, I know that I can accomplish everything, be on time and not rush to finish.
But what if that’s not possible? Well, I’ll get to that.
I have found that these three things have kept most of my days smooth and fairly stress free.
But what about all the “but what if”s?
My friends, the Type A in me can not, would not, will not, leave those alone.
So I made a flowchart.
This flowchart (made prettier for you, mine is on a post-it note in my Jeep), has helped me through almost every balancing decision I’ve needed to make this last year.