Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Balance De-Mystified

I was at a used book sale where one of the taglines of a book on motherhood said that balance is a crock. I get that. That is, if one is not looking at what balancing means to them, and, perhaps more importantly, what balance is not.

Balance is not about being perfect in all areas
. Balance is about deciding what's most valuable, most important to you, and making it a priority. It will mean that something will have to give. Balance is about discerning what are musts, and what can go. I've had to miss a lot of cool blogger events lately because even if they weren't going to interfere with work, it would mean time away from simply being at home with my kids. They would've been fun, but I'm confident that I made the right decision for us.

Balance is not about equal time to all things. It's about recognizing what is getting the least amount of time or attention, and making adjustments accordingly. We get out of whack sometimes, and realize that we haven't spent enough time with our friends, or one child has gotten more attention than another. Once I've recognized it, then I can prioritize it. And if it can't change right then, I look at when it reasonable and feasible. For instance, I haven't spent quality time with my sister at all this year. So I blocked off a weekend in June where we can hang out together. And I can hardly wait!

Balance is not about juggling or multi-tasking
. I can't talk on the phone and balance my checkbook simultaneously. I can't write a to-do list while I help the girls with their homework. I can't reply to a work email while at dinner with friends. One thing at a time. Give it my full attention, be satisfied that I did it right, and then move on to the next thing.

Balance is not about never having downtime. If I have to, I'll schedule it. My goal is to not have anything on the schedule for Sundays. It's not a hard rule, but a goal. When things were getting really out of control, and every day of every weekend had been packed for weeks, I finally just took a couple of days off work to do what I wanted to do at home. I chose Tues. and Wed. off so that I could still take care of all the Monday madness and end of week things at work without regret. Way better than a 3-day weekend!

Balance is not about bouncing back and forth. It's about having a center. I may get pulled in different directions, depending upon what kind of fire drill may be happening at work or a big moment in my daughter's life, but then things return to normal again. Recognizing that nothing lasts forever, that eventually, every problem is in the past, allows me to keep things in perspective. Going back to the center gives me that moment to breath, savor and enjoy all aspects of my life.

Balance is not an end goal, but a constant moving target.  I have moments where life feels in balance and being able to recognize and enjoy those moments get me through until the next one.

Balance is feeling that there's nothing else I should be doing right now, and nothing else I'd rather be doing right now. Not that I want that right now to last forever, but nothing does anyway. If I'm very, very lucky, the target reaches center at least once a day. And if it doesn't? There's always tomorrow.


Missy June said...

I love these thoughts about balance! Thank you so much for sharing!

Missy June said...

I love these thoughts about balance! Thank you so much for sharing!

BigLittleWolf said...

All so true. Balance (like "happiness" perhaps?) has become a pop culture catch-phrase. I think the pursuit of makes more sense than thinking it's a state of being or achievable, static goal.

Great reminders. Great post.

Michelle said...

I love this post, and it's so perfect (ha!) following the book club post. I think one of the biggest issues we have is not defining what balance is for us and instead going for the ideal and that brass ring we can never reach. Contentment is in learning about ourselves and follows from achieving what we need rather than what we want - as hard as that is to accept. And yep, struggling with it over here, too!

jenn said...

I LOVE this. This is the perfect description of balance. I don't think I'm there yet, but I'm closer than I used to be. :)

Cat said...

I like the Tuesday-Wednesday off idea. I haven't had a day off that didn't involve a sick child in almost a year. It sounds beautiful.

Emylibef said...

Now all I need is someone to tattoo all this on my arms.

Jennifer said...

Fantastic post - thanks for the reminders about our favorite (impermanent) friend, balance!

Staci Witten said...

LOVE this post. Achieving balance is such a challenge and these are great points. So many of us are working, caring for a family, possibly caring for a parent, and trying to take care of ourselves. Very thought provoking. Thanks for sharing!