Work, Life, Balance

In response to: “I’d like to read about life balance as a full time Mom & Wife,
and how to incorporate Self-Care and Extra-Curricular Activities?”

If you know me by now, and you should (after all, I bare my soul on this blog), you know I do everything with intention. I don’t just do things to do them. I take my writing very seriously, most times. I mean, come on, we can’t take ourselves too seriously right? But when it comes to responding to your inquiries, I really dig deep. Though this request for the blog topic was submitted May 12th, I knew it came from a very special place. For this particular follower to take time out to write this, I was certain that it was a very special desire of hers. I waited to move on these keys until the Lord led me to the right words to share. Not just for her, but for all of you who will also benefit from this subject. So here it goes!

Balance, just like the fountain of youth, is something many of us are seeking. If you’re a working mom and wife, this seems nearly impossible most days. It’s like you’re being pulled in a myriad of directions. And sometimes it feels like you’re losing the capacity to fully function. So I know what you’re thinking. How is it even remotely possible, to accomplish all the things you want to do, when you barely even have the energy to do the things you need to do? It’s called BALANCE.

The dictionary defines balance as, “an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady. To keep or put (something) in a steady position so that it does not fall.” Simple isn’t it? Except that in your attempts to evenly distribute weight within your daily life there are curve balls. In which case, then it’s nearly impossible to remain upright and steady.  And guess what? Sometimes, things will fall in the process of you trying to maintain an unwavering position. That doesn’t mean you give up on balancing. What should happen is that you have the desire to want to pick up the pieces, and keep it moving. Right? Easier said than done I know, but stay with me here.

Let’s talk about our roles, more specifically the roles of this follower:

Mom, Wife, and lets throw in Full Time Employee or Full Time Self Employed CEO (many of you are).

Now, let’s consider the needs in this individual’s daily life:

Self-Care, Making Time for Extra-curricular activities… among them allocating the right amount of time and attention between ones family (which sometimes seems like a responsibility, let’s be honest). 

There are all these preconceived notions about what a “good mother” is supposed to do, and how a “good wife” is supposed to be that it’s so easy to forget the most important person in this equation… YOU!  You’ve likely heard this saying time and time again, “you can’t be good to anyone else if you aren’t good to yourself,” and though it holds truth it’s also deceiving. We know, that when we start to do the things that are good for ourselves there will be a host of critics. The ones who say, “Oh she’s changed, she used to be so focused on her family, and look at her now?” Or, “girl have you been to her house? It used to be so tidy and now I visit and she’s got dishes in her sink. Somethings got to be wrong.” Yeah, those people, the nay-sayers, the ones in your business, the ones more concerned about appearances who fail to see the true progress in those things you worked so hard to establish. When in reality you’re thinking, the fact that my house hasn’t burned down and is even standing right now, is a major accomplishment.

Let’s take self-care for example. Self-care is the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health. Health is mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual. Self-care, is also the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness. READ THAT AGAIN. No, seriously. Go back and read that again.

What I’m getting at is that taking care of yourself means putting into place the things that have been calling you for years now. If not years, months, or days. The point is, they’ve been calling you. You know why? Because you’ve been living a life built to strive, and haven’t been surrendering to a life that is conducive to your whole-hearted happiness.  Again, why? Because you’ve put yourself at the bottom of the list. Oof, low blow I know. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but it’s true.  You’ve prioritized everyone but yourself.  But, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.  You can turn this around. You can inch your way up the list. This change doesn’t have to be drastic, though for some people it’s the best way to approach this lifestyle shift. You must make a conscious effort to put YOU first in all you do.

In the words of, Vladimir Savchuk in Walk in the Holy Spirit Devotional:

 “We often replace surrender with striving. Striving produces the work of the flesh while surrender produces the fruit of the spirit. Fruit is followed by intimacy. Develop a relationship with intimacy and fruit will follow. Character is developed by surrendering. Yield in areas of your character where you’re weak and constantly fail. You’ll sense prompting; FOLLOW.”  

This came right on time. And though the topic at hand was “building a relationship with the Holy Spirit”, I realized in that moment just how much this applies to this subject matter. The fruit of the spirit being, power, love, and self-control. The very things we need to accomplish our desires at being fruitful in our lives; to ourselves. Imagine all that you can accomplish when you take a step back and finally acknowledge that little voice in your head; that desire deep inside that keeps nudging you. That prompting to get it together. That’s the fruit that’s acquired through intimacy. It’s okay to have moments of intimacy with yourself. In fact, it’s necessary.  But you can only do that when you surrender.

How does that look? You have to incorporate more structure into your life. You create a calendar and a schedule for everyone other than yourself. Right? Be honest.  You make a schedule for your kids nap time, your dinner preparations, drop offs and pickups, grocery runs, car maintenance, etc. You put all these things on the calendar in a heartbeat. Or on your mental check list of “to-do’s.” No hesitations, no questions asked. Newsflash! You have to treat yourself the same way.

If what you want to do is incorporate more exercise time into your day, think about what your day looks like; wakeup to bedtime. If you wanted to get 30 minutes of workout in where would you fit that? Does it mean you’ll have to wake up 45 minutes earlier? Or cancel that 45 minute TV time? If you wanted to get back to reading, how does that look? Do you need peace and quiet? Do you need a helping hand? Perhaps your oldest can help by watching the little ones while you sit in the living room with headphones on playing some reading music to drown out the noise. Maybe you need complete solitude. Possibly while everyone is asleep? Or, taking time during your lunch hour to do so. Whether these are your particular goals or not, the point is, all things are possible. You need only set aside time for them, for yourself.

Let’s talk wifey time. We all know, we are the best thing that’s ever happened to our husbands. I mean, honestly. (Insert evil laugh here) But, seriously, our men need quality time too right? So, where do you fit that in? The responsibilities of keeping up with house and home can be a little overwhelming at times, yes. I’ve been there. It means we try to be our best selves to the very person we’re committed to. After all, they too deserve to have the best version of us don’t they? So, here’s where a conversation is necessary.  No one wants to have to schedule time with their loved one. And yes, I believe spontaneity is critical to keeping the fire going in a relationship. So, be honest about your roles. Sometimes that means the hubby needs to pitch in a bit more so that you are at your best when you’re with him. So you’re not so overwhelmed and frustrated because you’ve had a particularly frustrating day juggling motherhood and full time employment, and they should understand that. A reasonable partner would want you at your best, as this is when they get the best version of you.

Now, moving on to extracurricular activities. Whether this means hanging out with your friends, traveling, or taking on hobbies you haven’t had a chance to explore, this too must be scheduled in your life. The good thing about this is it doesn’t happen all the time. Meaning that you have time to schedule these things into your world.  Maybe for you this looks like one day out of the month, that’s totally doable. Or maybe you need more. Maybe you need an every other week kind of Girl’s Night Out, that’s not bad either. I mean, after all, you deserve some me time. And me time is also necessary.  You can also incorporate your hubby into these extra-curricular activities for a win-win. Maybe even bring the kids along (but have a plan for even distribution of the kid responsibilities on outings so that you’re not the only one carrying the load).

I’ll share this… a few months ago I was frustrated because I couldn’t figure out a way to incorporate more writing into my weeks. Really, I set my standards high and wanted to increase my writing time daily (as I usually do, totally not recommended in this case). I didn’t want to lose sight of my day to day spiritual routine as this feeds my soul. I also didn’t want to compromise my daily self-care practices because these too are important to me, they keep me sane to be honest. And I didn’t want to sacrifice time with my loved ones in the process.  This in particular reminded me of that chapter in the book “A Year of Yes” by Shonda Rhimes where she expresses that she didn’t think she was built for relationships because it was taking time away from her creativity as a writer.  Though I admit, the more I get focused on my writing, the more I wonder about this, I’m determined to find that happy medium.  So, I did what I do best.  I prayed about it. In prayer and meditation I got the right answers.

It was as simple as, “ask for help.” I thought about this for a minute and wondered; but from who? The answer was right in front of me. My husband, that’s who. So I did. And though I already knew the number one thing he was going to say was, “you have to start your day earlier,” I was hoping to avoid doing so. But he was right, for once (wink wink). If I want to accomplish all the things I need to keep myself balanced, happy, and whole, I must make a change in my daily routine. I did just that! Yes, it was rough the first few weeks. I am not a morning person by far! But I sucked it up, and I started to see the way my days started to unfold. I now had more time to focus on me, on my needs, and my wants, and I was in a much better mood. Now, I have a daily schedule that goes as follows:

6am, Wakeup

7am, Prayer/Devotional/Meditation

8am, Workout

9am, Work

5pm, Write/Blog

6pm, Time with Family/Friends

And though this schedule’s got to be altered at times, I’m not frazzled. Cause I incorporate what I can, and can look back and be proud of what I actually did accomplish for myself.

I leave you with these words of wisdom from the incomparable, Autumn Calabrese.  “The better you feel about you, you show up as a better version of yourself. With your family, in your work, and with your friends. So remember, when you dedicate time to yourself you are able to better show up for everybody else as a better version of you.”  Autumn has spoken to me quite deeply in the past two weeks. Her message reached me, and I’m certain it will reach you. For maybe this is exactly what you needed to read.                

I hope this message has encouraged you. To live your life to the best of your ability. To shine brighter each day and be your best self.  As always, yours truly. – Lin Green

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