My friend sent me an article last week that said the average number of hours a mom works in a week is 98 hours. That is the equivalent of two-and-a-half jobs—no wonder life feels chaotic.
And somewhere in there, we are told to find "balance"—that elusive concept we all strive for, yet none of us seem to achieve.
Most days, motherhood feels like walking a tight rope while juggling.
There are bills that need to be paid, mounds of laundry, the dishes, dinner, groceries, doctor appointments, permission slips, kids' homework, chauffeuring to practices, your marriage, your work, illnesses, your health.
As women, we hear the word balance all. the. time. Put a room full of working women together and one question that I guarantee will come up is, "How do you balance work and your personal life?"
A quick google search of the word and you'll find hundreds of articles and books telling us how to get there:
- Find time for yourself and then you will be more engaged and fulfilled for your family.
- Wake up early to exercise to lose that extra baby weight and practice self-care.
Everyone longs for balance as if once we find it we will have reached a state of euphoric bliss. But there is no mathematical equation to finding balance. You see, balance is not a destination, it's a practice. A practice of recognizing our choices.
It is knowing and accepting that life requires a constant state of change and adjusting. Balance is about choosing to let go of the guilt and the lies that we tell ourselves every day and instead choosing joy.
Balance is consciously choosing to put aside these notions that you are a bad mom, or partner, or sister, or friend, or employee. It's understanding and giving yourself grace that balance and the choices you make to get that balance, may look different from one day to the next and that's okay.
Today, balance may be choosing to do the dishes while the kids play by themselves.
Balance might be choosing the McDonald's drive-thru for the kiddos while chauffeuring between practices and a phone conference in the car because that's all time allows for.
Tomorrow, balance may look like choosing to say no to the piles of laundry and the bathrooms that need cleaning because today, today you are playing with your littles and soaking in all their goodness and all other things can wait.
This practice of finding balance by making conscious choices for what you and your family need on any given day and choosing joy will be difficult at first. Guilt will be right around the corner, tapping you on the shoulder reminding you of all the things you should be doing at this moment.
But when did guilt make you better at anything? When did guilt bring you joy? Guilt is a hard emotion to silence but it can be silenced with practice.
Life is unpredictable. Parenting is unpredictable. Each day brings something new and life will never be in perfect equitable balance. This expectation—this phenomenon of trying to achieve an impossible goal of balance does nothing but stress us all out even more.
So how do mamas live a balanced life? Quite simply, they don't.
Some days you will feed your kids organic food and you will have time to work out. Other days there will be tantrums, you will scarf down some food at the counter and you won't have two minutes to yourself. But regardless of the balance or lack thereof that you feel, every single day we have a choice.
A choice to let the chaos get in the way, to let guilt run our lives and dictate how we feel, what we do and how we react to the day. Or we can choose to walk that tightrope of motherhood as best we can with what the day has given us and reach for joy.
That's when the good stuff happens, that's when you experience motherhood and life at its finest.