Finding balance between motherhood and work and life can sometimes feel impossible (OK, maybe all the time).
But the key isn’t to try to become the ultimate juggler who successfully has umpteen balls in the air at any given time. The key is to find what works best for you.
To really nail balance this year, it’s all about redefining, rethinking and reconsidering everything you thought you knew about what balance really means.
Redefine the meaning of quality time with your kids
The whole idea of giving your kids your undivided attention is, of course, important, but it’s not always practical or necessary. Sometimes, it can be enough that you are present in the same room with them. Or, according to Helen Ryan, mother and author, you can maximize your time together while doing other things.
- Drive and talk: “Driving is a great opportunity to talk to our kids. Don’t answer your cell, don’t let them answer theirs or text, don’t let them watch TV. Even if it’s just a five-minute commute. Every moment adds up.”
- Cooking and homework: “Have them do homework near or in the kitchen so you can chat while preparing dinner. They can ask you questions; you can ask about their day.”
- Let them interrupt your work: “When my kids were little, I found that they would keep interrupting my work (I worked from home) all the time. I finally realized that if I gave them 10 full minutes of attention they would be happy to go play for a while after instead of interrupting me a billion times. Although it was hard for me to pull myself away from a project, 10 minutes would not make or break my day as much as repeated interruptions would,” adds Ryan.
Rethink how many of your child’s events you’ll attend
Your head swims when you look at your family’s calendar. You’ve got your daughter’s basketball game and your son’s band recital. Then there are plans to get a drink with your best friend — that you’ve penciled in. And this is all supposed to happen on the same night.
Would you ever consider skipping your children’s activities and putting those drink plans in pen? Author and parenting coach, Richard Horowitz says you should. “Being an involved parent does not mean that you have to attend every soccer game, baseball practice, etc. Children need to learn that sports and activities are for their benefit, not for the entertainment of parents. Involvement means supporting their efforts without hovering.”
Reconsider what beneficial “me time” really is
Of course you’ve heard this one before. But there’s a reason it’s repeated over and over when it comes to a mom’s struggle with balance. It’s important. But perhaps one of the reasons it’s so hard to achieve is because women feel this time has to be significant to be worth it.
Changing your definition of how long “me time” should last is the first step. Why not work out even if you only have 15 minutes? Read a book, even if you only have 10 minutes before bed. Take a walk, even if you can only circle the block once.
Writer, health educator and mom Sarah Clachar says the secret to fitness and sanity is sneaking a moment in. Ironically, it’s her kids who taught her this. “They’ll impulsively skip for a block or jump at a moment’s notice. I sneak in a little jump rope, calisthenics or maybe a game of tag or dancing to the radio whenever I can. It’s a great energizer and destresser.”