Let me begin this article by stating that I have very little balance in my life. It is something my husband and I are working towards now that the kids are getting older. Two weeks ago we went out for dinner alone for the first time in 3 years. Now you get a better picture regarding the ‘balance’ thing. Along with greening my life and providing a healthier lifestyle for my family, balance is another key ingredient I strive for. So with this article, I am preaching what I’ve not yet achieved….but I’m working to get there! With that off my chest…please read on….
We all know that the life of a mother is one of sacrifice. We sacrifice our time, our sleep, our energy, our health and at times our sanity. All this sacrifice is of course for a great cause…our children and family. Having said that, there is no reason why we cannot provide everything that our children and families need while at the same time maintaining or even enhancing our own personal well being…physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
Here are 10 tips to help you achieve a better balance in your life.
1. Rise early. I know this sounds crazy, after all sleep is the first thing to go when you become a mother, but hear me out. Rising an hour before the rest of your household will give you much needed alone time. This time should be spent on you (not on cleaning the house). Read a good book, write in a journal, go for a walk, or simply sit with a good cup of coffee and think about your day. Note: this strategy should only be attempted if your children are at the stage where they are consistently sleeping through the night. If they aren’t then by all means sleep as long as you possibly can and every chance you can. The theory behind this tip is, “start your day off right and the rest of your day will follow”.
2. Exercise you body. Exercising will not only ensure that you stay healthier it will give you more energy and vitality so that you can keep up with the hectic pace of motherhood. Spend at least thirty minutes a day on strenuous but enjoyable physical exercise. This could be done during the extra hour you gained by waking early or it can be done during the course of the day. You can even split it into two fifteen minute sessions. Remember, you don’t have to go to the gym to exercise. There are a variety of exercises you can do in or around your home.
3. Exercise your mind. Human beings need to challenge themselves and grow on a regular basis or they will experience a sense of lacking. Make a commitment to do at least one thing every day to expand your mind. The trick is to make it a challenge and keep it interesting. Learn to speak a foreign language, or play a musical instrument, take a pottery course or a creative writing course, or simply read inspiring books on subjects that interest you.
4. Ask for help. Most mommies have some sort of network at her disposal… whether it be friends or family (husband included) or a combination. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. People would be more than happy to take your child or children for a short while so you can run errands or take some time for yourself. The trick here is reciprocation…you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.
5. Release your guilt. Everyone experiences feelings of guilt; this is not exclusive to mothers. The problem with guilt is that it is a useless emotion with no redeeming factors or benefits for the future. Guilt paralyses your ability to deal effectively with situations, instead creating feelings of depression and anxiety which stem from a lack of self acceptance. We are all human beings and as such, we occasionally make mistakes. Stop looking at mistakes as failures and see them for what they are…learning opportunities.
6. Get clear on what you want. Take some time to clarify your goals. The reason a lot of people never seem to make any headway and stay stagnant in the status quo is they haven’t taken the time to really get clear on what it is that they want out of life. Identify what is important to you as a mother, a wife, a human being and establish goals and strategies that will create a pathway to your desires. The first step is always getting a clear picture of where you want to go. After all, if you can’t see the finish line, how are you going to get there?
7. De-clutter you life. Simplify, simplify, simplify! If you don’t need something, get rid of it…give it to a friend, donate it to a worthy cause, sell it, recycle it, just get rid of it. If your space is cluttered then your life is cluttered. An uncluttered house erases unnecessary distractions and helps keep your mind on the tasks at hand. Organize your space and in turn you will help organize your life, giving you more time to concentrate on the important things as identified in step number six.
8. Limit the activities. We all want to raise well rounded and talented children, as a result we have a tendency to over extend ourselves and our children. Too many activities not only puts undue hardship on parents, it also puts a lot of pressure on kids. Some kids are involved in so many things that they have little or no time to just goof around and be kids, and as parents we have become little more than glorified chauffeurs. Limit the activities to things that your child shows enthusiasm and aptitude for. Don’t forget that both parents and children need down time.
9. Prioritize your day, ahead of time. Work out your day in advance. Make sure that you schedule all the essential elements of your day including time for you. A great time to do this is after the kids go to sleep. List your must do’s, and your like to do’s and don’t forget that you may need help to accomplish your schedule, so make sure you identify and use all the resources available to you. And lastly…
10. Enjoy every minute. I am often reminded, usually by people whose children are grown and out of the house, to appreciate my children while they are young. More often then not, I get the sense that they are coming from a place of regret for not having done so. We all love our children but do we really appreciate and extract the joy out of time spent with them? Every day that passes, our children rely on us less and less. One day, we will send our children out in to the world to live their lives. I assure you that at that time we will look back at every runny nose, every sleepless night, every busy day, every perceived catastrophe and every dilemma with great fondness. So my question is… “Why wait?” Enjoy every minute you have with your children NOW.