Motherhood has always been fascinating to me.
One minute I’m sorely missing my children, my heart exploding with so much love I’m not sure I can contain it all, and the next minute… I’m sneaking off to the back bathroom, shutting the door with the stealth that could only be comparable to a skilled ninja for just a few minutes of alone time.
I know it won’t last.
And in those moments, that feeling of “overwhelmed” hits me.
We all have felt the feeling—the sinking, drowning feeling that we will never get it under control.
Overwhelmed and I… we’ve become pretty good friends. Overwhelmed feels scary on the surface, but I’ve learned to look at it as a friend—an indicator that somewhere along the line… I’ve let something important fall away from my attention.
And in these secret bathroom break moments that I begin to look for what it is that I’ve let fall away. Sometimes I figure it out, other times it takes time for it to come to the surface.
But as long as I’m looking for it, inevitably, I will find it.
I am asked the question a lot “how do you balance it all?”
I know why I’m asked that question. On the outside, I’m running our social media and website, filming for YouTube, running a reselling business of my own.
I’m a homeschooler, a cross fitter, a home maker, a wife, and a friend.
Yeah, it looks like a lot.
And it is.
I’m really, really good at making it look like I have it all together. But I don’t. Honestly, it doesn’t matter what I do, I will always know the feeling of Overwhelmed.
Overwhelmed has forced me to make a choice—to do something about it or fall victim to it. I tried the victim thing out of pure spite and hardheadedness, but it really got me nowhere.
Let me tell you where I’ve been on the path of “doing something about it”.
How I Manage Work-Life Balance
1. What can you drop?
Nora Roberts wrote a fantastic analogy about life balance. The minute I read it; I’ve kept it close to my heart because of the accuracy of her metaphor.
She said the key to juggling your work and family life is to know that some of
the balls you are juggling are plastic and some are glass. They’re not just balls
that represent “family”, “personal life”, or “work”. They are the 50 to 60 different tasks that need to get done. If we drop a plastic one, they will bounce and we can pick them up later. But the glass ones need to be caught. If they fall, they will shatter. Not all “family” category balls are glass, and not all “personal self-care” balls are plastic. If we have to drop a plastic family ball to keep a “self care” glass ball from shattering—that’s alright. They key is to know which ones are which.
Click here for further explanation of this analogy. It’s fantastic and I highly recommend this quick read.
2. It Does Not Pay to Put Off Self-Care
Self-care, though it sounds like something we want to do, can sometimes be so hard. There are many societal, psychological, and physiological reasons why that is (here’s a link to an article that can articulate it better than me).
But even though it’s hard, if you want to run a successful business, have a healthy, thriving family, and balance all the glass and plastic balls in a productive way, self-care has to be a priority. You may think that all the “self-care” balls you’re juggling are plastic, but they are not, my friend.
If you’ve ever flown in an airplane, you’ve seen that teaching that talks about what to do if you’re in a situation where the airplane’s air masks deploy. It says to put the mask on yourself, then help those around you who cannot help themselves. Because, the truth is, you can’t care for anyone if you’re passed out.
3. You Won’t Get It All Together Over Night.
In fact, I would even lose the expectation that you’ll get it all together at all.
I love those “before and after” videos on social media that talk about the great transformations. Sometimes it’s a room being renovated, a dramatic hairstyle, or maybe even an amazing art or craft. In 1 to 2 minutes, you can see an amazing transformation from a subpar starting point, to a breathtaking and perfect transformation. Seriously, I love those videos, but they also give the illusion that perfection is achievable in 1 to 2 minutes.
I know we don’t consciously “think” that, but it can absolutely subconsciously affect our perception.
Even if you could have everything you wanted in this moment to make your situation perfect, it wouldn’t last. Life goes on, situations change, and your perception of “perfect” will change in every situation.
You’ll never have it all together. One or two of those plastic balls will fall, inevitably, every day. It’s what pushes us to do better. If we already obtained perfection, what else is there?
Keep working TOWARDS your goals. The joy is in the process. The destination is relative.
4. It’s okay to suck.
And you will sometimes.
It’s also okay to feel like you suck.
And to be upset that you suck.
But hear this:
Don’t stay there a moment longer than you have to. Feeling the disappointment of failure is a good teaching lesson. You learn more about yourself in your failures than anything else. It’s okay to give attention to that.
Feeling disappointment and failure is an amazing teacher. It's what teaches us our limits, gives us the opportunity to re-evaluate, and encourages us to find a different path. But, equally imperative is knowing when to get back up and move forward, rather than to let the disappointment actually keep you from moving forward.
5. Embrace the Mess, but Don’t Get Comfortable.
I am fully aware of the fact that I can be a complete and utter mess sometimes. Sometimes I do not have my stuff together.
When I worked in restaurants as a server trainer, they had a term called “being in the weeds”. It meant that you were falling behind, the demands of the current moment were really high, and the pressure was on.
You can feel “in the weeds” in life, too. Running around, moving fast but going nowhere. It happens. I affectionally call it “being a mess”.
In moments like these, it seems so easy to give up and quit running. But something I’ve always told the servers in these moments of great pressure is this:
Regardless of what you do or how well you do it, this moment will end. The tables will leave. They may have a terrible experience, or a great one that was redeemed at the end. They may tip you, or they may not. But the end is coming, very soon. And you will still be standing at the end.
The same goes for you. Balance isn’t about always having it together. Sometimes you find yourself in the weeds. Happens to the best of us. But the truth is, no matter what you do or how well you do it, this pressure will fade and the end of this season will come. And maybe the outcome isn’t as favorable as you’d hoped. Maybe it really turned itself around and you were able to make some really cool stuff happen. But the end will come. And you will still be standing, balancing, juggling—living when it does.
Best of luck to you!