You’re rushing kiddos to school and lessons every week. You’re making dinner and washing practically every dish you own every single night. You’ve even shelled out for dozens of time savers you don’t really need, except you don’t have the time or energy to do it any other way.
You don’t have time or energy to focus on yourself or your partner, just when you sit down for five minutes your kiddos scream for help. There’s never enough of you to go around.
I know. I’ve been there. I’m sure I’ll be there again. It happens to the best of us and as life rhythm changes, it happens again.
But it doesn’t have to be a life sentence. You can create a balanced life. It is possible to have time to sit down and breath – and take care of yourself, your family, your relationship.
However, creating life balance means you need to let go of something. The exact something that needs to go is different for everyone, but with a little introspection, you’ll be able to figure out what you need to change.
The first step to a balanced life is defining what balance looks and feels like to you.
Life Balance is Not…
Life balance is not about being the same or equal in all areas of life. Life balance is not measured in hours or numbers. Life balance isn’t static, it doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and it isn’t even logical most of the time.
Life Balance is…
Life balance is fluid, ever changing. It requires us to take note of the needs of the family as a whole and also the individual members separately. It means sometimes one person will receive more time or attention, and others will receive less. But eventually it swings the other way.
In order to stay in balance the swing needs to happen before others feel left out or unappreciated.
You know when your life isn’t in balance because of how you feel. The same is true for when your life is balanced. When we give ourselves time to breath and space to think, permission to feel, then life is better able to meet the needs of everyone in the family.
It Is NOT Your Responsibility to Meet Everyone’s Needs
Read that again! It is not your responsibility to meet everyone’s needs. Often we try to. We say yes to our children’s requests, but other’s wants ahead of our own needs, and generally become an angry, tired, dried-up martyr without even realizing we’re doing it.
Time to Breath
Taking time to breath is so important. This time doesn’t need to be long, but it does need to be consciously created and taken. I’d like to invite you to pause. Take a deep breath in. Feel it enter your lungs. Expanding your rib cage, slowing your heart. It lifts you up and eases your chest, relaxes your shoulders. Now breath out. Breath out. As you exhale release the have to’s and should’s pulling at you.
Do you have to clean your living room? Should you? Or do you want a clean living room so you’ll clean it because you want to?
If the answer isn’t “I want to” then release it. There will be a day you want to. Trust me. I hate cleaning and become overwhelmed by too much mess, but there’s a time when I want to clean because the results of the clean are important to me.
Taking time to breath deeply and consciously helps us recenter and refocus on our own needs. When we are entered we’re better able to recognize our own needs and feel when we’re slipping out of balance.
Space to Think
Whether you need a specific physical space to think, or just the mental space doesn’t matter. What matters is that you know what space you need and make sure you get it.
Just like breathing to recenter yourself, it’s important to consciously create the space to think.
What you think about is just as important as the act of thinking and a lot more important than where you think. It’s important to use your thinking time and space to evaluate what’s working well in your life and what could be even better. When we actively ask ourselves these questions and search within ourselves for the answer, we’re more likely to actively create balance on a day to day basis and less likely to find ourselves feeling overwhelmed.
What are some of the ways you can give yourself space to think regularly?
Permission to Feel
This is huge. Emotions are a big deal these days. Society is learning how to feel again for the first time in a long while. Children are allowed to cry and be upset, and parents are learning to guide their children as they experience emotions.
We’re learning that emotions are neither good nor and, but offer different information to us as we experience them.
When we feel a certain way about a situation, it’s important to allow ourselves to fully feel the emotion. However, it’s equally important that we don’t allow the emotion to control us. But most important, in my opinion, is listening to our emotions and using the information they give us to make our decisions.
For instance, let’s say our children have been asking for something and we’ve been saying ‘no’ to them, the more they ask, the more frustrated we feel, then we snap or give in – and then we feel even worse. But it’s possible to change that pattern, by recognizing the emotion earlier and changing how we react to it.
One way I do this is by noticing I’m beginning to feel tense when my chidlren are asking for things. Then I stop what I’m doing and look at them. I get down to their level, look them in the eye, and I ask them what they want. I listen. I don’t try to figure out how to say no. Instead I really listen to what they want – and consider how I might get it for them without creating a burden on anyone else in the family.
Sometimes I can think of a way, other times I can’t. When I can’t I can tell them calmly that the answer is still no and briefly give them a reason. For instance my kiddos love to craft and I often say yes. But before our last party, they wanted to paint. I told them no because I wouldn’t have time to make sure it was all cleaned up for the party while also getting the party stuff ready. We found something else for them to do instead. There was no fighting or tears, and no guilt.
Give yourself permission to feel, and choose how you respond to your emotions.
Create a Balanced Life
You now have the first, most important, step to creating a balanced life. And you have three ways to support that step.
What does balance look like for you? How would you know you’ve got it? As you answer those questions and find ways to make it happen, take time to breath, give yourself space to think, and accept permission to feel.
Balance will be a lot easier to create when you follow those basic guidelines.