One of the things I’m constantly struggling with as a mother is whether I’m getting the balance right. Getting some sort of perfect balance between work, life and family is something I’ve always strived for, but the further I get along the motherhood journey, the more I realise that the pursuit of perfect balance is somewhat futile. With all the competing demands in our lives, is true balance ever fully attainable? Are we ever really going to feel that all our ducks are in a row and our time is evenly split between all the things in our lives that require attention? Or does this goal in fact leave us always searching for the ever-elusive magic balance land, grappling for extra time to distribute to the things that we just never get a chance to get on top of. I’m finding that if I shift my thinking towards priorities rather than balance that it becomes easier to take care of the things that I need and want to do.
My children and family are always on the top of my list of priorities, so when it comes down to decision making about any of the other areas of my life they are my first consideration. This has sometimes meant that I’ve had to turn down or miss out on things that I would have loved to be able to do, which if I’m trying to achieve balance makes me feel completely askew and resentful, but if I focus on them as my priority I feel like I’m honouring my personal values and stage of life, rather than fighting against it. It gives me a greater feeling of peace, I guess.
While work is a necessity for me and I’m lucky to enjoy the work I do, both in my paid work and here on the blog, for the season of life I’m in right now, it definitely has to come second to my personal life. And that’s OK. That doesn’t make me any less capable or ambitious, it just means that the decisions I make regarding work are always made with my family situation in mind.
When I was trying to balance it all, I thought working from home was the answer to evenly split my time between work and family. But what actually happened was that I was always trying to do both at the same time, which left me completely stressed and burnt out. What I found was that I couldn’t switch off from work while I was with my kids and I couldn’t switch off the nagging sense there was housework to do or I should be with my kids while I was working. It seems that I’m not alone in feeling that working from home may not be the answer to work-life balance. By letting go of the idea of perfect balance, I can just enjoy life as it is now in it’s sometimes chaotic form. It means I turn off the computer completely when I’m playing with my kids, that I’m present at the park without checking my emails or putting a sneaky update on facebook. When I’m at work I’m at work and I plan out certain days and times to work on my writing and bl0g that work for my family and work for me. In doing it this way, I feel less stressed and by having my main priorities as my guiding lights means that sometimes hard decisions are easier to make. And biggest of all, by letting go of the idea of balance means that I’m allowed to step off the tight rope and drop a couple of balls I’m juggling if they are just not my priorities … and that’s totally OK.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Do you think that life balance is totally achievable or are you more a priorities girl like me and realise that something’s got to give? I’d love to hear what works for you!