Recently I had a realization about myself that made my life slightly less complicated: I like to think that I am a stay-at-home mom when in reality I am a working mom. I may work from home, but I still work. When I thought of myself as a stay-at-home mom, I felt overly stressed. How am I supposed to handle everything that comes with that title and juggle writing projects? When I accepted that I am a working mom, I cut myself some slack. I also realized I needed to find a little more balance in my life if I wanted to make my writing career and home life successful.
Whether you are a full-time mama or you have to juggle a job in addition to being a mom, we all need to have balance. I know that when I am most stressed it is because I have been focusing too heavily on one thing (my late-night Chuck marathons, a.k.a. “me time,” makes it hard to stay on task the next day). When there is a balance between work, home and me time, it is much easier to function. To be truthful, when I am off balance my kids tend to get hosed. I’m cranky, less likely to play with them and hurry through bedtime. It’s miserable for them and miserable for me.
So, how can you find balance?
1. Cut the cord. One of our goals this year is to spend a lot less time in front of the tube. We have Netflix instant streaming, cable, and DVDs. We do not need that many options to fill our time. We’ll be eliminating our cable and instant streaming (in favor of the DVD mailings, which force us to wait between shows). I am always surprised at how much more I can get done when I watch one less movie.
2. Make a schedule. For organized families, this is a no-brainer. Sit down as a family and make sure everyone knows what is going on. Put events, activities and appointments on a family calendar as soon as you know about it, and keep a daily schedule posted. When you have small kids, this can make routines run smoothly. My girls love knowing what we’re doing next. If you work from home or an irregular schedule, this is a lifeline. Make sure you know when you work and your kids know, too. Do your work when you are scheduled to work, dirty dishes be darned.
3. Simplify your life. Take a good look at everything you have going on. Are there activities you can nix? If your child is taking three dance classes, music lessons and soccer, you are both likely exhausted. Keep schedules simple. Cut back on needless extra work, too. The other day I was loading my dishwasher and I could not believe how many cups were dirty. There are four of us and I must have loaded 15 or 20 cups. Unbelievable. We now have a house rule: One cup per person per day. Take a look around — what can you streamline so you have more time for other things?
4. Take care of you first. I have learned this the hard way. If you are not eating healthy, exercising and socializing with someone other than your children, you are going to be unhappy. It’s hard to feel fulfilled when you are taking care of everyone else first. Make time to do something for you, even if it is just to pop some popcorn and watch your favorite flick once or twice a week.
Creating balance will eliminate unnecessary stress and give you more time to really enjoy life. When you start to feel disoriented, take a good look at what your day and week looks like and make the changes necessary to achieve better balance.
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