One thing I have learned as a working mom of 2 is that finding balance is something that is key to a happy life– and it’s not easy to achieve.
I’m a full-time working mom of a kindergartner and a 1-year-old with a passion for volunteering and engaging with the community, blessed with many friends and a close (in proximity and in bond) family; it is a constant battle to try to fit everything in.
I drive myself crazy and get burnt out extremely quickly trying to balance out the activities, keep friendships alive, be present and active in my daughter’s school, keep up with family, plus keep up with my work, my health (mental and physical) and my household.
To make things even more interesting, I am a people pleaser in the sense that I care immensely about my friends and the people around me. Turning things down is very hard for me.
I know I’m not alone in this constant feeling of overwhelm.
Moms all over the world juggle SO MUCH and it’s actually pretty insane how we all stay (or at least present ourselves) as sane!
Occasionally I get a comment from somebody asking how I do it– manage “it all” and have balance. My answer is always that on the outside it may look like I have it together but in reality, I struggle daily. I live in a constant state of overwhelm and I am completely aware that I do it to myself.
I have recently had to discover how to manage my life better so that I am still able to do everything that I have passion for without losing myself in the process.
Essentially, there are four “steps” that have helped me through this balance-finding journey of mine.
First, I made a list of my priorities for what I needed to spend time doing each day.
For me, this is how I organized it:
- Quality time with my kids. This has always been the first thing to get overlooked when a busy schedule sets in. My kids thrive when they get quality time and life passes by too fast to forego this time. Therefore, this is my #1. No apologies.
- Work. I have a to-do list each day for my work, in order of priority. When I start working I do all of the things I have to get done that day first. I then work my way down until it’s time to stop working.
- Self-care time. Personally, if I don’t take time every day to move my body and be alone, I go crazy. Setting aside 30 minutes to get a quick workout in or be by myself to watch a show is something that I need each day.
- Household things. The house needs to be cleaned, the kids need to eat, a bedtime routine needs to happen, plus laundry, budgeting, and all the other things. I am thankful I have a husband who helps out a ton with this kind of stuff but I still, obviously, need to take care of some of these things each day.
- Friends and family time. With lots of great friends and the fact that both my parents and my husband’s parents live within 5 minutes of me, we pretty much ALWAYS have something on our calendar for nights and weekends. I love it and wouldn’t want it any other way, but this is where things start to get crazy. (See the next step on how I deal with this!)
- Volunteering and community involvement. It’s super important to me so I will make time for it if time allows!!
Second, I learned how to set boundaries.
This step is the hardest for me. I always think I can fit everything in, do it all, please the masses; but unfortunately, that’s just not true. I HATE disappointing people, but as life gets busier, I find that disappointment happens more and more. It feels like I’m not good enough, am a bad friend, co-worker, mom, etc. But something has to give, and that’s where boundaries come into play! Shoutout to my therapist for teaching me about boundaries!
Learning how to say no is important. Having a strong sense of how you want to spend the time that you have and how much time you have to give helps this. With only 24 hours in the day, with 8 dedicated to sleep, a lot of times, saying no is unavoidable.
A few boundaries I recently set to protect my mental health are:
- Shutting my computer down at 8 pm. My busy mind could work around the clock if I let it, but having a hard stop at 8 has allowed me to get my sleep schedule back.
- Limiting my social media consumption to 30 minutes a day. It’s too easy to waste time scrolling and it was causing me to be super inefficient with my time.
- Responding no to meetings that fall outside of my work hours or that can be taken care of in an email.
Third, I give myself grace.
Not everything is going to get done. I had to accept that fact in order for me to move past the inner insanity. I have to remind myself that what didn’t get done today is okay and that there is tomorrow.
Fourth, I accept that not everything or everyone is forever.
In me creating boundaries and sticking to my priorities, it’s natural that things and people are going to fall off. I have to trust that the people who love me, care about me, and support me will be okay with how I am spending my time. And if they aren’t, I need to be okay with them being distant or disappearing.
I am sure that as life continues and the kids get busier with activities, this is going to become even more important to maintain my mental health.
If you have tips or tricks that have helped you find balance in your life, please share them with us!
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