Often I hear the phrase “Work life balance” and it makes me laugh out loud. I’m sorry for being curt, but there is just no such thing as a work life balance. Work and life can never be equal, never 50/50, but that’s okay, it shouldn’t be.
When I think of work and life, I think of finding a place of satisfaction. Maybe you think that phrase falls flat, but I feel it is more realistic to my life for sure. I will never have both of these sides of my life totally equal, and I am okay with that. This is something I surrendered to at the start of the year to be honest, so I have had time to grieve this idea.
I give the stay at home mama’s SO MUCH CREDIT. YOU are amazing. I personally could never do what you do. To be totally honest with you, I often take a Friday and Monday off to make a long weekend, and I am ready to head back to work on Tuesday. It’s okay, you can judge me, but it’s true. I am not built to be a stay at home mama. I love my kids with all of my heart and I plan so many fun things to do during our time together, but I also like to leave the house and have something that is all mine, and that for me is my career.
I used to think that I could give 100% of me to my family and then 100% of me to my job AND have great self care on top of that. Anyone else just chuckle? This is just not realistic. Math is not my strong suit, but that would equal 300% right? Huh.
Shifting my brain to acknowledge this, I decided that if my three focus areas are home (kids/husband/maintaining my home are all lumped into this one), my work and then my self care, together, those three things need to equal 100%. So, having three “buckets” we will call them, does not make for an even disbursement of that 100% right?
I have to stay late often at my work. My job is in fundraising, so we host and attend a lot of events. Yes, it can be really hard not to see my littles at night to tuck them into bed. But, in reality, this is part of the job and I knew it when accepting both my role as a mom and as an employee. So I have flipped my mindset on it and make sure that my mornings, which I have the most control over, are my quality time with the kids. As much as possible (because I am not perfect, they are not perfect and some days, like yesterday, we are leaving the house with me saying the serenity prayer to myself) I am trying to make our mornings fun, relaxing and calm. On most Monday mornings we have a dance party to start off the week. What week can go wrong if you start it in a huge dance party in heels? Am I right?
When I am home, I am home. I am not checking my email and if everyone is under one roof, meaning my oldest is in the house too, my phone is put away. I am present, playing and patient with my family. I attempt to tackle small tasks each day so that my weekend is not full of chores. I get on the floor and play with the kids instead of doing chores while they are awake. I find a place of satisfaction while I am home. I cannot do everything and my house is by no means perfect, but I try as much as possible to enjoy my family while I am home.
When I am at work, I am at work. I try my hardest not to engage in text messages with my oldest and husband, or friends and family for that matter. I am at work and that is my time to get my job done so that I when I am home I can be home. I have good days and bad days and some days I have to admit, I kick ass at work. But when I am at work I am giving it my best. On Fridays I look ahead at the workweek to see when I have to come in early, when I have to stay late. What are my COUPLE of goals (I say couple because the job is never done and I could work double the hours in order to get everything completed, so having a small results list that I must complete before I can leave the following Friday is necessary). I look at my family calendar and see if there are any appointments or needs from home, or self care appointments (yes, I put all self care, including my workouts on my calendar as if they are appointments I cannot reschedule) that I need to adjust my calendar for. On Mondays I come in and revisit my calendar and my results list needed for the week and create my plan of action, making sure to put work-blocks on my calendar to accomplish those results.
I try to utilize all the time in my days so during my 30 minute commute to work, I use it as part of my self care time. I download audio books, listen to podcasts or music and sometimes I actually listen to nothing but the sound of my windows open. I take those 30 minutes to learn something new or do something for me that helps ground me in whatever is currently going on in my life. I also work out five days a week. Yup. I have 3 children, a home, a big job AND I work out 5 days a week. Every week. I have to because it helps my brain. It clears it out and truly makes me be the best version of myself. I workout two times a week outside of the home and the rest downstairs in our basement.
So as you can see, I cram a lot into a day and into my life and none of it is “balanced”. Some days my kids might be sick for 5 days, because you know, sharing is caring in our house so when one of us gets it, the whole house goes down. Or I might have a work week that I have to work late 3 out of the 5 weeknights to attend all the events needed to do my job. Or maybe it is such a crazy work week I can’t get in the workouts I needed, but hey, we have no plans on the weekend so I am going to double up on Saturday and Sunday to make it up with the support of my husband.
Though I plan as much as I possibly can, life happens and just as quickly as you were to plan and schedule, you have to shift and change and adapt to what is going on. It’s life, it’s supposed to be this way. I just take a breath, think it through and figure out what plan b is and how I can readjust where needed and constantly remind myself, it is only for a season. This season, it might be tough and hard and heavier balanced on one side. But next season, something else is going to need more of my time and attention and I will shift again and refocus my efforts accordingly.
We have one chance at this life, just one. So make sure that you are not putting unrealistic expectations on yourself or others that you are supposed to have it all figured out and that you are suppose to have this so called “balanced” approach to life. I will say it again, it is just not possible and THAT IS OKAY. You are doing the best you can. Be proud of yourself for the things you are juggling. Do me a favor, ask yourself what is really important in your life and then create that life that you envision. It is possible.
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