“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm, and harmony.”
– Thomas Merton
The word balance ironically makes my body wobble back and forth from anxiety. I am at a phase in my life where I have more than enough going on (we all feel like this at some point). On top of being a wife, mom to two little boys, full-time employee, I am also pursuing my master’s degree, which means my evenings are consumed with class and schoolwork. If this schedule gives you a case of the sympathetic anxieties, I certainly understand and appreciate your concern.
Before I graduated high school, back in the day, I was pretty chill and let everything (for the most part) roll off my shoulders. When I started college, I assumed unexplained anxiety and started wearing the weight of the world on my shoulders. No one asked me to; I just felt like I needed to take on the task. Now that I have a family, work, and a continued pursuit of higher education, I am now the mom running around like a chicken with its head cut off.
I often look insane and probably scare away any of the other parents who have their lives together (at least externally). Let’s get real though, social media does not help the overworked and exhausted mama, because only the best is captured by my fellow parents. I am guilty of this as well, but I will take a moment to share a snapshot of finding my one-and-a-half-year-old eating a crayon because I trusted he would be fine in the playroom by himself. Why was he in the playroom by himself? I had to answer a work email on a Saturday. I say all of this because I want, no, I NEED balance.
On this journey of balance, I’ve had a few realizations. Here are the five things you need to do to get started re-balancing your life –
- Call on the village: You don’t have to do this on your own. Call on your village to help when needed. Lucky for me, I have a great life partner who steps up all the time. I sure do appreciate him and all that he does, but sometimes he can’t be there because of work or coaching, so I have my family right around the corner to offer additional support. My family drops everything to help pick up the kids, watch the boys when I have a company call later in the evenings, take the boys on adventures when I have school work that has piled up, etc. We are lucky to have them. Don’t feel less than if you need help. We all need help at some point in our lives.
- Don’t compare: For many of us, we digest content through social media. For me, I am a lover of Instagram. I love snapshot content. As I mentioned earlier, we cannot put ourselves down if we are not like the Insta moms who have 50K followers, crisp white backdrops, and their cherub babies in perfect poses with rosy red cheeks. I’m lucky to capture a picture of my kids without having to tell them to stop hitting each other, not to pick their noses, to go clean their face, etc. In the same realm, we can’t compare memories made. The memories made of arts and crafts, playing on the playground, visiting the pet store, etc. should not be looked down upon compared to those of parents taking their kids to Disney World, Hawaii, or Time Square in NYC. You are still a great parent, so don’t compare yourself to others. Your kids are going to cherish the time together, no matter what you’re doing.
- Maximize your time: Who else loves a planner and calendar? This mama is obsessed. I love to have everything laid out in an easily consumed format. My husband has even tapped into this obsession and created a digital family calendar. We know at the start of everyday what to anticipate. When there are moments of down time, fill them with productive activities, like one-on-one time with the kiddos. I try to make an effort to spend down-time with my kids. If it’s down time during the work day, use the time to look at your to-do lists, consume a podcast, or read for grad school. If you’re like me, I am always concerned that I am using my time effectively, so using your time to care for yourself, spend quality time with the babes, or prep for the future is a great way to not feel guilty about having free time.
- Self-care: Take care of yourself! You can’t be a great partner, mom, employee, student, etc. if you’re not taking care of yourself. I make a point to have at least 30 minutes of me time daily. If it’s watching a YouTube video, taking a therapeutic bath, or watching re-runs of the Great British Bake Off (my guilty pleasure), you are becoming the best version of yourself. You are not shellfish; you’re thinking about everyone around you. It’s OK. Go take a bubble bath.
- Keeping working: Balance is a hard thing to achieve, so think of this as an effort of achieving fulfillment. Are you living a fulfilled life? Once you feel fulfilled, balance will follow. This is a process, just buckle up for the ride and take everything in stride. You can do this!
Do I currently balanced? No, but I’m getting there and I’m not doing it alone. I have the best group of folks supporting me through this journey. If you don’t think you have the support system you need, I’m here for you! We’ll find balance together.
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