Guest Post by Daria of Mom In Management
Everyone always wants to know how I balance my full time career, 3 children, a marriage, blogging, house keeping, and me time. The honest truth is that I can’t – no one can. But hang on…there are truisms that may help you get as close to balance as possible.
Supposing all priorities were created equally, your day may look something like this:
- 4 hours at work,
- 4 hours with kids,
- 4 hours for hubs,
- 4 hours blogging,
- 4 hours for me; and
- 4 hours for sleep.
But guess what? All priorities are not equal and there are certain physical and financial needs that must be met. So, let’s go through these one by one.
Let’s start with the easy one – Sleep.
To realize the full benefits of sleep, most people need a solid 8 hours. If you are shorting sleep in an effort to do it all, you are kidding yourself. You are not only shorting yourself of the physical benefits of sleep, you are also shorting your marriage, your children, and your employer. Because let’s face it, an overtired mom isn’t nearly as patient or fun as a fully rested one, an overtired employee isn’t as productive, and not many husbands want to hear “I’m too tired.”
But, most importantly? I am nearing 40. I need all the beauty help that sleep can give me!
Tip #1 – Get 8 hours of sleep.
Another easy one – House keeping.
If you find out you have Stage 4 cancer tomorrow, are you going to worry that your bathroom needs to be cleaned? Or that there are footprints on the wood floor?
I am fairly sure that 95% of you would answer “No”. If you are part of the 5% that does care that much, then maybe that me time of yours is the time you spend cleaning. Or, even better, consider getting a job that entails cleaning since it is your obsession passion.
For the pig-sty dwellers rest of us, there is a certain level of cleanliness that must be maintained to be sanitary. But a house that is too clean causes your kids to develop allergies and is unnecessary. So give yourself a break. Does the floor need to be swept every day? Or the carpet vacuumed? No. Once a week is sufficient for basic maintenance. Along those lines, do you have to be the one that does all the cleaning? No. Get your kids involved and hubs too. Make the tasks age appropriate, but there is no reason why your kids can’t help with sweeping, vacuuming, dusting or at least cleaning the mirrors and glass surfaces. Most times they actually like it too! And for those of you that can afford it, hire a cleaning company. It is an amazing gift to the whole family.
Tip #2- Get the whole family involved. Turn on some up beat music and spend an hour or two cleaning up together.
Most jobs require 8 hours per day or 40 hours per week in some form or another. Add commuting time to that and it is typically 9 hours per day or more. This is fairly non-negotiable for most families; however, before you say that you have to work that much, take a step back and look at your expenses. Do you have a car payment? Cable TV? Cell phones? Eat out?
Guess what. Those are all luxuries – not necessities. Before you lament your work taking away from family or other things you’d like to do, ask yourself these questions:
- Do you need to live in a house that large?
- Drive a car that new?
- How many of the channels you have do you actually watch? Is there a package that fits better or could you watch movies instead?
- How much are you spending on dinners out?
My point being that we as Americans have a lot of things we think we need that are actually wants. Balance comes when you find a quality of life that provides what you need and a few wants – but not necessarily every want. Life is out of balance when work, or any of the items, consume too much of your time and attention.
For many of us, myself included, I am a better mom for having time away from my family. The adult interaction and recognition I get from work gives me energy to bring to my marriage and kids rather than taking energy from me. However, my kids have various needs that happen between 8 and 5. They don’t just shut down and wait for work to be done. Therefore, I choose to work for a company and in a position that allows me flexibility. I can volunteer at the kids’ school and make up my time another day, or at night, or just not take pay for it. Flexibility is necessary and pretty widely available. If you don’t have it now, then consider switching employers or positions.
Finally, if you love what you are doing at work, then work can satisfy much of your me time need. You are energized by your work, look forward to it, and therefore don’t need as much time to rejuvenate with me time as you might otherwise. It’s easier said than done, but take a look at whether your job gives energy to you or takes energy from you – not on a day to day basis, because that will change depending on the day, but in general. If it drains you more than energizes you, consider switching jobs.
Tip #3 – Consider reducing your expenses.
Tip #4 – Find a job that supports flexibility.
Tip #5 – Work at something you love – find your passion.
Parenting, Marriage and Me Time
This is where the real struggle usually comes when trying to find balance in your life. How do you balance the needs of your children with the needs of your marriage and your individual needs. If you are looking for a magic formula, you will fail. Why? For similar reasons to why you can’t just give every priority 4 hours. Each minute spent with your kids, husband, or for yourself is not created equally. All time spent is valuable, don’t get me wrong, but there are some moments more important than others:
- The day your kid gets picked on walking home from school isn’t equal to a normal night in front of the TV.
- A family dinner is not equal to the day your kid gets his driver’s license or your daughter is asked to the school dance.
- Sitting next to your husband watching the news isn’t equal to a romantic weekend away.
- The night you are recognized for your volunteer work isn’t equal to an hour reading a book.
Even if you are a Stay at Home Mom, you will miss some parenting moments. You may be at the grocery store or dropping your son off at soccer practice when the phone call comes with the invitation to prom. You can’t be there for every significant event in your child’s life. It just isn’t possible.
But you can create a relationship with them that encourages them to share those moments with you and allow you to celebrate with them.
Tip #6 – Eat dinner together and have 2 questions everyday for everyone – What was your favorite thing today? What was your worst one?
What advice do you have for adding balance to your life?
Daria is a working mom in Colorado balancing life between the boardroom and the classroom. During the day she leads a team of employees, at night and on the weekends, she and her husband are led around by their 3 kids. She writes with a sense of humor about her life – including leadership tips and business trends, parenting, marriage, and staying sane. You can connect with Daria on Mom In Management , twitter and Facebook.