From a working mum with 2 (very gorgeous but very needy!) primary school age kids.
Before I started writing this I did some research on what “balance” means, and this is a summary of what I found:
- Remain steady
- Equal proportions
- Even distribution
- Finding a middle ground.
- Moving without falling
And it made me think, you know, balance isn’t just one thing.
It’s a mixture of different ways of being, doing, feeling.
“Finding balance” is about trying new things. Experimenting. Trial and error. Not perfect all the time.
I realised as I reflected, “finding balance” isn’t a final destination goal, it’s a way of living.
And I’ve been playing with it all my life and will carry on as I go through more stages in my life and different things take priority.
Thinking of balance as a process, a way of living that will naturally ebb and flow and isn’t constant, makes me feel less pressure to get the balance right all the time.
If you think about “finding balance” from that perspective, how do you feel?
But let’s get back to right now. And right now, as a busy working mum, you’ve got a lot on your plate. You’re trying to balance work commitments, home life, needs of people you care about, time with your kids. Your own needs. I see you.
Often, it can feel like you’re running around like a headless chicken, trying to keep all the plates spinning not knowing which way’s up, half the time you can’t even remember what day of the week it is.
Your diary’s full, and you’re secretly pleased when your friends cancel last minute because you just want a night in with your feet up and a good book or some sh*t tele. There just aren’t enough hours in the day!
Firstly, if you’re feeling overwhelmed with the constant juggle and feeling you’re failing badly, you are SO NOT ALONE! (I’m with you for one!) And you’re NOT FAILING!
A Google search of “how to find balance in your life?” brings up 476,000,000 results. I rest my case.
The good news is that “finding balance” (or a better term I think – “living in balance”) is possible.
To live our life in balance we want all the areas of our life to get some focus. At stages and points in our life some will get more than others. That’s natural, normal, makes sense.
What’s key is we recognise when any are lacking the focus they need (i.e. spotting our signs, like feeling stuck in our career).
The main areas of our lives are: love relationships, friendships, fun/adventures, environment, health/fitness, personal growth and learning, finances, spirituality, career/business, creative, family, community.
It takes some effort to live in balance, but with the right mindset and approach, and some tricks and tools up your sleeve, it’s totally possible to feel it.
And the effort’s worth it because you’ll be less stressed and a lot happier!
So here’s me, as a working mum with a 7 and 10 year old sharing my thoughts and some ideas that I’ve gleaned from my journey of learning to live in balance:
1. Plan your week ahead
In our house we sit down on a Sunday morning and work out what’s going on for the following week and create our to-do list. Everything from who needs taking / picking up / from where/ when, to work commitments we’ve got, school events, household tasks like the food shopping.
We then usually go ‘jeez really that much??’ So next we prioritise and see if there’s anything we can take out or do another week. (Or never!!)
Next we decide (negotiate/cajole) who’s doing what and divvy up the actions.
Finally we block out time in the shared diary on our phones for when we plan to do the thing.
I’ve also got friends that use whiteboards in the kitchen instead of the phone diary.
And if it’s just you and the kids, see what you can divvy up to them. (Don’t be afraid of bribery I say!!).
*Caveat. We are not perfect, this doesn’t happen every week because things happen. But. We really feel an increase in our stress levels and plate spinning if we don’t do it.
2. Don’t over commit
What I mean is don’t say yes to everything (even if it sounds amazing).
Say you need to check your diary before you confirm (helpful tactic when you’re a people pleaser!).
You need to leave sensible gaps in your diary, see the gaps as actual activities in themselves (give them a name e.g. “meeting with myself”!). And it’s easier to see your schedule if you block time out by planning your week ahead.
I remember as a child my mum being so stressed because she was out with different friends almost every night of the week, and said yes to several parties on the same Saturday night. Socialising became a chore for her!
3. Share your load: Delegate. Ask for help. Outsource.
It’s easy to want to do everything yourself, but it’s not sustainable, and it’s not healthy. Learning to delegate can help you free up your time and reduce your stress levels.
Delegate tasks to your partner, family members, or outsource if you can afford it (childcare, cleaner, gardener, Gusto).
Getting others to help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength to recognise what you need and ask for it.
And from experience, I feel flattered when I’m asked by friends if I can help, because I feel trusted and valued.
4. Detoxify your life and free up space
Get off tech as much as you can! It eats up your time, makes you compare, gives you FOMO, and makes your neck/back/fingers/eyes hurt!! It rarely gives back as much as it takes.
Hang out with the positive, joyful people in your life that fill you up, big you up, cheer you up. Avoid the opposite ones (you’re the average of the 5 people you hang out with the most…)
Stay in the moment, be present, as much as you can. Focus on enjoying time with your kids and the people you love, creating lasting memories.
5. Look after yourself: mind, body, soul
You are a critical part of your family, and your wellbeing is essential. It’s easy to let self-care go out the window when you’re busy, but it’s SO SO IMPORTANT to take care of yourself physically and mentally. (Think of the aeroplane mask when the cabin pressure drops – they always say put your own on first before you help anyone else. If you don’t, you won’t be in any state to help).
Take time out to relax, decompress, get some ‘me time’.
One of my favourite ways of getting some me time, is having the baby sitter arrive at 7pm so I get a night off bedtime!!!! It costs an extra half an hour but it’s worth every. last. penny!
Here’s a great little activity you can do to practise spending time on yourself.
6. Embrace the concept “good enough”
As a working mum, you may often feel like you’re not doing enough.
It’s normal to worry about whether you’re spending enough time with your children, doing enough for them or for your employer.
Recognise that perfectionism burns out energy unnecessarily and that balance is a never-ending process, instead opt to embrace the imperfections and mistakes that come with life and focus on progress and the things that matter most.
Finding balance as a working mum can be a challenging task, but it is achievable. By planning, prioritising, delegating and asking for help, being present, taking care of yourself and not chasing perfection, you’ll be able to manage your responsibilities while still having time to enjoy life.
Successfully living life in balance shouldn’t be about striving to find an equal balance all the time in every area of your life, because it’s impossible with life’s ebbs and flows. And we’re human.
It’s more about working out what balance means to you and what works for you and looking at it as a life journey.
YOU’VE ABSOLUTELY GOT THIS!!!
Let me know any tips or tricks you use to manage your working week. I’m always up for trying new things, and sharing them with others. Message me on the facebook group or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
This article was written by Helena Ewers, one of Careering into Motherhood’s Partner Coaches. Helena helps to find clarity and direction through the fog, reconnected with your “this is me!”, and reignited with your sparkle and confidence to live your life your way. She offers a free discovery call. To find out more, get in touch visit her website https://starttheripples.com
May 1, 2023