Tuesday, February 15, 2011

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8 Ways To Find Your Balance

We are all juggling many hats - work, kids, marriage, health, hobbies, housekeeping, PTA, and whatever other things we think we can cram into a day. So how do we balance it all? How do we meet the needs of everyone and still maintain our sanity? Here are my top 8 tips to help see you through:
  1. Drink wine by the box.
  2. Change your phone number so the PTA president can't find you.
  3. Live in a pig sty.
  4. Get a divorce and adopt a dog instead.
  5. Tell your boss what you really feel about him. I bet you won't have to worry about work for long.
  6. Accept that your kids are right and you are in fact boring, so why would you need hobbies anyway?
  7. Buy pants with elastic waistbands and quit going to the gym.
  8. Get a premium cable package with all the options, set the kids down in front of the TV and throw them some popcorn every once in awhile.
What? Too harsh? OK then, alternate the popcorn with apples every so often. In all seriousness though, what makes you think you need to do all of these things? Why do you have to be uber career woman, supermom, sexy nymph wife, PTA president, have your kids in multiple sports, music, and dance every season, have a spotless home and lead the local chapter of League of Women Voters? Balance comes when you learn to let go. Let go of your internal expectation to do it all and be it all. Prioritize the things that are important to you and let go of the rest.

Some ways to do this?

  • Buy cookies for the class party. Let go of being Betty Crocker.
  • Pick one extracurricular thing to be involved with, maybe it's PTA, maybe it's League of Women Voters, maybe it's the local gardening club. But only bite off what you can chew and for most of us, 1 item is about it.
  • Realize that right now may not be the time to accept the promotion that means 75% travel. Let go of your vision of being CEO by 29.
  • Accept that romantic getaways are going to take lots of planning and preparation - meaning they may feel less than romantic in the end. Let go of the Made for TV vision in your head of what romance looks like.
  • Alternate taking the kids to sports practice with your husband. Let go of the idea that you have to be at every single one.
  • Pick one, or at the most two, activities for your kids each season. Let go of the fear that not starting football at 4 will hinder their pro-football career.
  • Keep your house sanitary, but don't obsess. Let go of the idea that a drill sergeant is going to show up any moment with a white glove to inspect your house.
But it's not just about letting go, it's also about holding on. Here's what you need to hold on TO:
  • Hold on to the importance of extracurriculars in kids' lives. Just limit the chaos to reasonable limits.
  • Hold on to romance and intimacy, but see it in small things and savor the day to day instead of looking for grandiose.
  • Hold on to career aspirations. Talk to your boss about your ambition and balancing that with your family's needs. Figure out together if there is an alternate position that wouldn't require the travel, but still gets you up the corporate ladder. If not, would there be if you switched companies?
  • Hold on to attending your kids' special events. Just because you don't go to every practice (which by the way occur 2 and 3 times a week sometimes), doesn't mean that you miss the school play that only happens once.
  • Hold on to the moments and activites that you enjoy and limit the things that are have to's.
Ultimately it comes down to identifying your priorities - the ones that fulfill you and make you happy, not the priorities that you have because you think you should. These choices make it much easier to enjoy what you do have instead of feeling overwhelmed by the chaos you've created. If I had to sum it up in one sentence it would be:

Focus on the good, not the should.

Photobucket 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.


Daria @ Mom in Management said...

Thank you so much for having me today! :)

Anonymous said...

Daria, what a wonderful post. It made me laugh and then it made me think. You are so right about setting priorities. I like to think about priorities as my choices. We only have so much time and energy. We need to protect them both or pack for the hospital. If we look at our choices as investment cash, we may be more likely to invest where the best rate of return exists. Thanks. This was wonderful. ~Dawn

Daria @ Mom in Management said...

Yep, exactly! One of my bosses brought the limited energy concept to my attention a couple of years ago and it has helped me prioritize. I only have X amount of energy - do I want to spend it doing this? Or that?

Thanks Dawn!

Irene said...

Daria, absolutely wonderful and makes so much sense. We really do not want to kill ourselves being perfect. Let's be real and have fun and still be great moms!

Anonymous said...

Funny stuff. I've been singing this song for a while now. Realizing life is short and I will never make everybody happy, I have no problem with the cable and popcorn thing - LOL.

Anonymous said...

Daria, you have so much common sense! Sometimes, I think we needed it laid out in all it's simplicity by someone who knows how to say it and you certainly do!! Although, I do love 1/2 of #7 on the first list - the elastic--I'm all for comfort when I get home but I still exercise!! And popcorn and apples are good for everybody!

Gina @ Special Happens said...

Daria, I love this post. You're exactly right! Right now I'm thinking that I need to have "play dates" here for O to help her through some things... but then I think of what might be leftover on the floor that I missed or what shape my house is in. Maybe I need to let that go?

Linda said...

Love the post, Daria!

I'll have you know that on Sunday night, I stayed up late making sugar cookies for the 9 y/o's Valentine's party. I was the only parent volunteer (and yes, I work FT), and all the other parents sent store-bought with their (ungrateful) children.

So, I'm being passive-aggressive, and I take home the high-fructose-corn-syrup-NOT sugar cookies home...hehehe!

TY for the permission to abdicate the Betty Crocker throne;).

Cherry Woodburn said...

Yes, priorities are important. Sometimes we and/or articles we read "Tips for the executive on how to be the perfect mom."make us feel like we're not doing enough. And of course, there's always more we could be doing...always. Thanks for reminding us about balance.

Jen Gresham said...

My biggest advice for keeping your ambition and sanity intact? So doing everything at work. It sounds counter-intuitive, but so much of what we do in the professional office isn't actually necessary. My boss once told me, "If I really need it, I'll ask for it twice." Obviously you don't want to force to ask for everything twice, but experiment a little to determine what's really important and then skip the rest. You'll be less stressed, and you'll actually do better work on the stuff that matters.

Daria @ Mom in Management said...

Thank you all for your wonderful comments. I am reminded repeatedly that the articles that just write themselves are the best ones. This was just writing down my thoughts - with a general topic of course - but the things I've learned and/or screwed up.

If I liked to bake, then maybe the homemade cookies are a great thing that I enjoy the excuse of doing. But for me I'd be doing it because that's what "good" moms do.

Thank you for all your great comments! You all rock! :)

rajean said...

Great ideas, Daria. I read this as I have about 8 loads of laundry waiting for me, so I suppose I'm already following some of your advice to let go of the obsession of having our house in perfect condition. I love the mantra, Focus on the good, not the should. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Rajean! Aren't there always 8 or more loads of laundry waiting? It seems like it in my house anyway. :)

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