It’s something the world tells us we should strive for.
It’s also something that causes large amounts of stress, guilt, anxiety and general confusion for most women.
We think if we really had balance in our lives, the laundry would be folded, the dinner would be perfect, the to-do list would be done and our three year old would definitely not be walking up to us saying, “Mommy, I just colored the blinds yellow”.
We hear about balance and think that we should have it all together. That we should spend equal time on family, friends, work, cleaning, exercise and meditation. That, if we happened to spend the same amount of time on all of these categories, we would find an attitude of zen and mount the coveted summit that is BALANCE.
Balance has nothing to do with what our life looks like from the outside. Real balance occurs when we consciously chose to put our attention on what matters to us in any given moment.
It has everything to do with what we chose to prioritize on a daily basis to make our life what we want it to be.
Finding balance isn’t about calendars and timers. I don’t think it’s color coded excel spreadsheets or to-do lists. It sure isn’t trying to make everyone happy all the time, or trying to fit in everything every day.
Because that just doesn’t happen.
True balance involves making a conscious choice to put our focus where it needs to be in any given moment.
There is no rule that says you need to spend equal amounts of time on everything in your life in order to be “balanced”.
In fact, if you actually try to put equal focus each day on everything in your life, you will probably go bonkers.
I used to think every part of my life needed the same amount of focus and attention. Spouse, family, friends, working out, eating right, cleaning, working, managing staff and remembering birthdays each had their place in my life every day.
Instead of focusing all of my attention on one thing and doing it well, I was working on three different projects at any given moment. I didn’t say “no” to anything, and I was always thinking about what I needed to do next in order to get it all done and be “balanced” that day.
I was like that person spinning plates on sticks, trying to do just enough so that none of them ever came crashing down.
It wasn’t pretty, but I was determined to make it all happen.
Then I had a baby.
Suddenly I couldn’t even find a moment to shower or eat, much less vacuum, return texts or journal.
The idea of “balance” was gone, and I just tried to survive every day.
The funny thing is, I finally felt truly balanced for the first time in my life.
I had no choice but to focus on this one, tiny little baby. She needed my 100% attention for the first few months of her life. My job was to change her, feed her, burp her, rock her, put her to sleep, then do it again.
Without even meaning to, I had put down all of my other spinning plates.
It felt so, so good.
After I came out of the fog of having a newborn, I realized the idea of “balance” in my life had changed.
I had to accept that I had only a limited amount of time every day. I also accepted that not everything held equal priority for me, so it was silly to try and give everything equal amounts of time. Finally, I had to realize that different things in my life need different amounts of attention at different times. I had to allow myself to be flexible and put down certain plates and pick up different ones as they needed some spinning.
While it meant changing my habits and learning to say “no”, this change in attitude affected every area of my life and finally allowed me to let go of my need to appear perfect. I found true peace and balance.
I now make conscious choices during the day to put my focus on the things that give me balance and need my attention.
There are days my daughter needs me 80% of the time. I plan my workout to involve a stroller walk, I order take-out (and don’t let myself feel guilty about it) and my work involves simply answering some quick emails while she naps.
There are days my work needs me 80% of the time. I do Pilates while I’m on mute during a conference call, I take leftovers out of the refrigerator and I let my husband be the amazing dad he is for the day and trust they will be ok without me.
Side note: we have to accept people really don’t need us as much as we think they do. Everyone will usually be ok without us for a day. Sometimes they are even better for it.
Then there are days all things fall into place, and I’m able to go from one activity to another seamlessly. I’m supermom, superfriend, superblogger, supercook, superboss, superexerciser and superwife.
While these days all look very different, I have learned to feel balanced in each one because I know what my priorities are and I am no longer trying to spin 20 plates.
I spin the plate I need to in any given time, then move to the next one as the situation allows.
If I don’t get to all my emails, I’ll do it tomorrow.
If I don’t fold the laundry, I’ll do it tomorrow.
If I didn’t feed my child her full serving of veggies, I’ll give her more tomorrow.
I refuse to end the day feeling guilty or “less than enough”.
I loved on my family, supported my staff and clients and got my workout in, which is what balance is to me.
That laundry will have to be folded eventually, and I’ll do it tomorrow when I’m not cleaning crayon off those blinds (yes it comes off by the way).
True balance is different for everyone, so don’t let anyone tell you they know the perfect road to get there.
You need to decide what makes you feel balanced, and focus on that. Give yourself a break and know you can’t do everything at once and you can’t be everything to everyone. You can be you, and you are amazing, so just be that.