Obviously I’m passionate about finding balance. And truthfully, I’m often not that great at it. Balance often seems like this idea that is possible but ugh- is so hard to find! It reminds me of Labyrinth (You know, the awesome 80s movie when Jennifer Connelly was a teenager?! Watch it if you’ve never seen it!). For me, I often feel like I’m moving toward balance and as I’m almost there, it slips away. I think I’m going in the right direction and then nope- chaos! Or a dead-end. Or the bog of eternal stench. (Seriously- watch Labyrinth!).
Even though balance is so hard to get, I still think the pursuit of it is worth it. In working to become balanced we’re probably better off than if we just give in to the fact that life is unbalanced. As I was writing the post about the ongoing struggle of balance, I realized (again) that balance is not a solo act. To really find balance, ideally you need some help and assistance. This is part of what I think is so hard for moms: We don’t necessarily want to do it all, but we also often struggle with asking for help, saying no, or getting others to assist.
To create balance, or to even get close, I think an all-hands-on-deck approach is needed. This will look different in each person’s life depending on things like your family structure, roles, proximity of family or friends who can (and are willing) to assist, economic status for outsourcing, etc. Regardless of what goes on in your family, chances are there ways that other people can help.
Balance Requires Support
- Our kids!! I don’t know about you, but I spend a lot of time cleaning up, or living in chaos. Usually both. I have a 4yo who makes a good portion of the mess and I really need to stop being the only one to clean it up. I’m making it a priority to stop playing earlier in the day and working on cleaning up together. This plan doesn’t always happen (or we try and it happens unsuccessfully), but I need to remember that my son can help. Not only that, but I’m teaching good lessons about life skills, that boys help too, and that you take responsibility as a member of the family.
- Our spouses/partners. I know not everyone has a partner who can or will help, but I find that many of us have partners who will do more if we ask. Some may believe that we shouldn’t have to ask, but guess what- we probably won’t get what we want unless we bring it up. In our house, I do a lot- this is because of how we have purposefully created our family structure. But, when I am struggling to get things done, my husband doesn’t necessarily see that I need help unless I ask him. Even if he literally sees the chaotic state that the house is in, it may not actually occur to him to spend extra time cleaning it up. He’s not at all a bad person, or unwilling, he’s just used to the roles we have and probably figures that I have a plan to get it done (because he knows I’m all about plans and getting tasks accomplished). So, if I need something, I need to ask.
- Our extended family. Not everyone has their blood-relatives close by and even if you do, they may not be willing or able to help. We are so fortunate to have both sets of grandparents close by who help us once a week when both my husband and I are working. We also have fantastic friends who help out as well. Your support network is critical in creating a more balanced life. Make it a priority to create a group of people you can trust and lean on. You may or may not be related to these people and they may or may not be in your life right now. But if you want to create more balance, having people in your life to assist (even if it’s simply a playdate and some adult interaction) is so important!
- Okay- this one may be a bit controversial for some, but if you have the ability, outsource what you can. This can be something like having house cleaners come in monthly (we do this), or having a mother’s helper come in for a couple of hours a week while you get some things accomplished (I am hoping to do this). However, it doesn’t even have to be things that cost money. Consider doing a babysitting swap with friends so that they watch your kids for a few hours and then you watch theirs. Maybe you clean the house or do laundry with your kid-free time, or maybe you even relax!! If there are tasks that others can help with, you may want to consider spending some money (if you can afford it- or create room for it in your budget). This certainly isn’t the only way to create balance, but don’t feel guilty outsourcing to help find more balance in your life.
As personal as balance is, finding it is often easier when we look to the people around us for support. Take some time to think of who may be able to help you (Remember: kids, partners, friends, family, and other outside providers can all be considered). Even if all of those options aren’t realistic now (perhaps your family lives 1,000 miles away), perhaps you can plan for the future. Don’t be afraid to ask, speak up, or create the situations that allow you to find balance. Remember, creating balance is not a solo act!
Who helps you create balance and what do they do?
Yes! I love this. I think women (in general) have a tendency to feel like they have to do everything and they “should” do everything , and if they can’t it means they’re not good enough. I’m slooooowly realizing that it’s this mindset that drives me into the ground. Learning to let some things go and find different ways to get help is so huge!
Thanks so much, Stacy. Yes- many of us do try to take it all on…probably because we feel like we can (and/or that we should be able to). Like you said, this approach isn’t great because it creates a situation where we barely have anything left to give. Changing this mindset for ourselves (and those who support us!) is huge.
Very interesting. I think there was to be balance also with who and how often we ask. I pile on the to dos for my spouse and have to remember he’s also searching for balance. And yes, labyrinth is awesome.
Great point, Elizabeth, that we need to take other’s balance into consideration. However, they can say no if it doesn’t work for them! I think the bigger issue is that we don’t ask for help when we need it and often the moms (or one partner) shoulders the brunt of certain tasks. Sometimes switching responsibilities can be helpful so that it doesn’t create less balance for the other. Thanks for checking in.