Can we just all just agree? … It’s hard.   The parenting…the working (in and out of the house)… the juggling of life’s responsibilities, people, homemaking, and maybe (just maybe?) a little fun too? It would be great if every adult was given the great manual of “How to do it all” (and stay sane,) but so far I haven’t found such a thing. Meanwhile, we’re left to ourselves to try to figure it all out. The good news is:  There is no ONE RIGHT WAY to all of these things in front of us.  Each of our paths will be uniquely ours, and each of our families will have their own look and feel.  That is a beautiful part of life.  But with that said, I’m pretty sure that you, like me, want to manage it all the best you can. (and you’re probably doing better than you give yourself credit for already!) So when you look at all of the things on your to-do list, and all of the things beckoning your attention, I encourage you to step back and first:  take a breath.  Though it’s easy to go directly into panic mode, putting out one fire after another and never really getting to the meaningful parts of your day…the better way is to sort through each of our responsibilities and interests calmly, and come up with a bit of a game plan. To help me keep my life-balance in check, I have come up with this little list… parenting life balance I hope a few of these help  you too!

1. Determine your priorities.

Though we cannot do everything, we can do a few things, and do them well.  I am learning to be more intentional about the things I do, and learning to say no to a lot of other things.  (even some that seem really good.) One thing I have learned:  if I don’t decide how to spend my time, it will be decided for me. A question I ask myself:  Do the things I most value match the way I spend my time?  It might help to jot a list of your priorities — from your job, to your family, to your hobbies. Keep in mind:  There are very few things in your life that ONLY YOU can take care of:  Things like your family, your health, and your spiritual life.  If you think about it, most of the things we do every day could be done by someone else (if necessary).  So we should take special care of those few responsibilities that are ours and no one else’s. I know my own capacity is limited, so I try to keep my highest priority list as short as possible.  My list includes: one-on-one time with each member of my family, daily time with God, keeping my home reasonably tidy, getting exercise a few times a week, getting enough sleep, writing work, home school responsibilities, and very little else.   You might notice, there are plenty of good things that did not make my list:  A super organized house.  A thriving social life.  Meals made of all organic, locally grown produce.  Ironing.  Charity work.  Training for races.   Home fix-up projects.  (and the list goes on.)  These are all good things, many of which I value and get to when I can, but these things take back seat to the higher-priority items. Choosing to put high priority things first in my life helps me establish order and be at peace with my daily schedule.  It also gives me confidence that I’m parenting the best I can.   Which leads me to the next checkpoint:

2.  Accept the season you are in.

Our priorities change as we grow and change.  Balance is dynamic.  It is important to be realistic with which season we are in. When my kids are grown, my social life might just pick up a bit (I can hope!)  When I’m not homeschooling boys, I might have time to alphabetize my spices (though unlikely).  I hope to be much more involved in charities and service work later, but right now it just doesn’t fit as a high priority, except where it involves my kids.  Coming to terms with the season we are in is extremely freeing, and helpful as we narrow down our focus. parenting life balance

3.  Accept your strengths and weaknesses.

Most of us tend to spend the bulk of our time doing the things we good at, or enjoy the most.  This isn’t wrong, but it is important to be mindful of as we work towards greater balance in our lives. As for me: I love to exercise (and the benefits of it), so it’s not hard for me to make time for it. I do not love washing windows, so…please don’t look too close. I find cooking enjoyable, so I make time to cook great meals for my family. I do not enjoy cleaning the house, so I might tend to put that off a bit… It’s ok to focus on what we’re good at.  But we still need to MANAGE the things we are not good at. So though I may not love to clean, my home still needs to be clean and orderly.  Both for my sanity, and because that is the environment I want for my family.  Which leads me to… How I manage the things I’m not good at:  {Delegating, outsourcing, and letting go.} Since my writing work takes more time these days, I have more recently hired someone to help clean our house twice a month.  This does not take away the need for all of us to do daily clean-ups, but it does ease my burden a little bit.   (Of course I have assigned a good amount of chores to each of my boys as well.) Since my mornings are some of my busiest times, I have recruited my boys to help make hot breakfasts a couple of times a week.  And guess what?  They’re good at it, and they enjoy it!  (And yes, you’re welcome,  future daughter-in-laws!) And then there are other things that I have just learned to let go.  I’ve learned to give myself grace, to not apologize to people who stop by unexpectedly, and to enjoy life right in the middle of it.  And honestly, I feel like this is a growing up thing.

4.  Be ok asking for help.

I think especially as women, we tend to pile more and more on ourselves without even realizing it.  I know that I often keep adding to my load (and my stress level) without even considering that there are actually options available.  Sometimes it is when I am finally at breaking point, that I finally turn to my husband, who is like “I’m happy to help!”  I just needed to ask. Whether you’re working outside the home, managing your family, (or both), there are usually options that you don’t even think of because you’re so darned self-sufficient.  Look for areas someone else might share your load — through trading, car-pooling, or just asking for a friend when you need one.

5.  Listen to people who know you well.  Reflect and re-evaluate.   

Keep in mind:  Balance is dynamic.  What was working for us last year, may not work any more.  We need to constantly reflect and re-evaluate how we’re doing.  Am I keeping up with the kids’ needs well enough for their ages/stages of life?  Have I moved off-center or gotten out of balance in any specific ways?  Some seasons our body seems to need more rest than others.  Some seasons we need more time with friends, or family…Take some time to step back and be objective about your life. Another important way to check on your life balance is to check in with those closest to us.  Ask family or close friends how they see us in this area of life-balance.  Then listen.  It might be hard to hear, but your kids will tell you if they think you’re out of balance.  Your spouse will likely see it if you’re leaning too far one way or the other.  Those who know us well will give us the feedback we need almost every time. I hope some of these ideas help you navigate your family-life balance.  Give yourself a lot of grace and try to enjoy the ride! ps- Remember that clutter & depression are often linked.  If you struggle in this area, we LOVE this declutter course!  It’s perfect for busy families!    

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