One thing that I've learned throughout the course of my (soon-to-be) three-year marriage, motherhood, and busy professional life is that maintaining balance is paramount to my family and personal wellbeing. Without finding a way to balance it all, I resort to juggling, knowing that sooner or later, one of the balls will drop. That is something that I cannot afford. Here are four ways to scrap the juggling routine and get on with balance in your life.
1. Schedule it!
Many moons ago, and when I was too young to understand, a wise mentor of mine once said, “If it’s not on my calendar, it doesn't exist.” Now fast forward to the future, and add a husband and two toddlers, and oh yes, does this ring true for me. Currently, I mentor a college freshman. I made sure to send her off with a year-long planner for her first semester. My advice to her was to use it - and frequently.
Truthfully, the busier our lives get, the greater the opportunity for things to fall through the cracks. Whether it’s as minor as a coffee date, or as major as an important meeting, an excellent way to alleviate stress is to keep a personal calendar/planner. Many of us are forced to use them at work, so why not incorporate this same behavior at home? Google Calendar is a wonderful resource that is available for free. If you're leery, or if the notion of keeping a digital calendar for your home life seems too structured, then try to get into the habit of writing your important appointments on a paper calendar. Make sure to hang it in a conspicuous place so that it is available for the entire family to reference and use.
Ever heard the adage, “Many hands make for light work”? Simply put, that's what delegation is. Listen; I would love to be Superwoman. If there was a way for me to have a spotless house, and children whose every needs are tended to, and a spouse whom I could completely fulfil, and a professional life that was A1, and a smokin’ hot body without an ounce of extra fat, and a writing career that was...well you get the idea. The REALITY is, that ain't reality. It's not even close.
The point that I'm making is, I'm only one single, finite person, with limitations and endless responsibilities. If I try to take on everything, all the time, then guess what? I'll be headed full speed down the road to burnout, and a lot of things will slip through the cracks along the way.
That's where task delegation comes into play. If it's possible to shift some responsibility into the hands of a capable other, then do it. Asking for help when you need it is an honorable thing. And remember: don't wait until you're on the verge of burnout to delegate tasks and responsibilities to family and friends. Often, our loved ones want to help, they just don't know how.
3. Work It Out
There are so many benefits to regular exercise. One of those benefits is added energy. If you, like me, have a very tight schedule, then you need all the energy you can get. Regular exercise will help in this area. If you're just starting out, then try going for a sustained walk at least three times in a week. Make sure that you're walking at a moderate pace for 20-30 minutes. Also, gauge how you feel afterward. Refreshed? Invigorated? That's the exercise working its magic! Keep it up, and see how much better you feel after a few weeks.
4. Clear Your Mind
It seems that from the moment I wake up in the morning, my mind starts roaring. I have a rough internal voice that tells me everything - the groceries that I need to buy, the assignment that I forgot to finish at work, the doctor’s appointment for the kids, etc. - literally from the moment that my eyes open until they shut again for the next REM cycle.
That's not good. That type of clutter of the brain is the stuff that stress is made of. Seriously.
What I've learned is that meditation is a practice that allows one to notice when this steady barrage of thoughts is occurring. Once we are made aware of this constant current of thoughts, then we can choose to work actively on clearing the mind. Now I'm not going to lie and act like I'm a monk in the making. But I am much more cognizant of the times when my mind is going haywire. This recognition allows me to stop, take deep breaths, and allow myself to de-stress, all while re-directing my thoughts away from the source of the stress. It's certainly been helpful to me.
What about you? What methods have you incorporated to keep yourself balanced? Share in the comments!