What really is balance, anyway?
Making sure everything is equal in your life?
Making sure you get enough time with your kids/partner/friends/work/self/responsibilities?
I don’t know.
Honestly, sometimes I’m not sure what ‘balance’ means to me right now. I feel like I’m always trying to figure it out.
I work from home part-time, have been married for five years, have a three-year-old, 18-month-old, am 26 weeks pregnant, do actually have friends I’d like to see and am one of five children in a close family that always has an event that needs to be added to the calendar or an issue that requires attention.
There is always a lot going on, plain and simple.
And, as mothers, we seem to hear the word ‘balance’ ALL the time.
Working or not. Married or not. Overwhelmed or not.
There are hundreds of articles on the internet telling us to find that elusive ‘work-life’ balance and then life will be fine and dandy.
There are books telling us to be sure to ‘balance’ time for yourself with the time you dedicate to your family and you’ll feel more zen.
There are T.V. shows where these magical mothers seem to get out with their friends or husbands whenever they want, perfectly balancing their mom life with their social life.
This so-called ‘balance’ seems to be the solution to all our problems.
But is it even real?
One definition of ‘balance’ is, “a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions.”
Okay. Makes sense.
So right now, for me, the “correct proportions” of my time seem to range from 80% family, 20% work, 0% anything else one week to 60% work, 30% family, 5% self, 5% friends another week and lots and lots of variations in between.
It’s always different.
To me, and my life, ‘balance’ looks different each and every week. Heck, it looks different each and every day of my life.
Most of the time it feels like I’m juggling, not balancing.
And I’m slowly (very slowly) starting to realize that that’s okay. Maybe this is the season to perfect my juggling act and not my balancing act.
Maybe the balancing act is for Act 2.
I think it is more than okay to aim for ‘balance,’ but also okay to recognize that this stage of motherhood and life, in general, is (mostly) chaos. And it’s still all good.
I am trying to work on shifting gears in thinking of balance as something I can always strive for, but not something I need to chase. Chasing gives me the feeling of anxiety. Striving gives me the feeling of inspiration.
Because right now when I reflect on my life, I realize that it is beautiful but chaotic.
Often very chaotic.
No matter what anyone puts out on their Instagram or Facebook pages, we all know that life with babies and toddlers is insanely busy and overwhelming and tiring. No matter what. It’s a secret of parenthood.
But...life can be both crazy and magical.
Both sane and insane.
Both beautiful and messy.
Both creative and structured.
Both balanced and imbalanced.
Both comforting and overwhelming.
Both adventurous and worrisome.
Both calming and hectic.
Both exceptional and common.
Both perfect and imperfect.
Maybe instead of obsessing over ‘balance’, we could focus more on whether everyone in our little bubble is okay—ourselves included. That we all feel loved and safe and included. That we are all integral members of our families.
That we all are fed and clothed and are playing and learning every day.
And those meals don’t have to be Pinterest recipes and those clothes don’t have to be Instagram influencer-worthy outfits. They can be healthy, hearty, simple, quick meals and still be social media worthy. They can be mismatched outfits that are too big hand-me-downs and your kiddo will be more than fine. They’ll be happy and ready to play and most importantly, will actually have clothes on (which is always a win in my book.)
That we can spend time with our partners alone.
And that alone time doesn’t need to mean Bachelor-level date nights, just time to connect one-on-one will do. That can range from a dinner out to a movie on the couch to a hand-holding walk to pillow talk before bed—and everything in between.
That we are seeing our friends and spending time with people outside of our little family bubbles.
And that friend-time doesn’t need to mean fancy dinners and big parties, just time to remind ourselves that there are other parts of our identities aside from ‘mom’ and ‘wife’ that are still alive and well.
That we are taking time for the things we love, whether that means working out or specific hobbies or time for self-care.
And that time to ourselves doesn’t have to be a big production—it doesn’t have to be scheduled and followed regularly/exactly and it doesn’t have to be a full Saturday or Sunday—it doesn’t have to be an all or nothing, go big or go home mentality. It can be 20 minutes in the bath with a face mask or painting after the kids go to bed or two yoga classes per week.
‘Balance’ might really mean “not balanced at all” for us parents right now. ‘Balance’ might be more about finding the right rhythm that works for you and your family.
Most importantly, I think ‘balance’ means ditching outside perceptions of what life should look like in order to embrace what life actually does look like for us.
To me, that means I want to stop trying to force what doesn’t work (even if it should work in theory) and start experimenting with what I think will work and then implementing that.
Maybe I’ll just focus on embracing this beautiful chaos instead of wishing for ‘perfection’ and ‘balance.’ (Because I don’t believe they’re real at this stage, anyway. ?)