It seems like a word being thrown around a lot in mommy circles is “balance.” Countless times, I’ve heard fellow mothers talking about how much better life would be if they could just find some balance.
Do I have balance? Should I be yearning for it along with everyone else? Let’s look at a recent day in the stay-at-home life of yours truly.
- get up and shower while the super amazing Brett gets Hannah up and fed (he does this every day!)
- play, explain that it’s not Halloween any more
- grocery shop
- put groceries away (team effort)
- make lunch and eat
- clean up can of Coke Hannah spilled on the floor
- Hannah naps – I prep for a Bible study I’m leading, upload photos, write a blog post, change my blog theme, write emails
- snack, explain again that Halloween is all done, video chat with Brett
- play, change the dolls’ clothes ten times
- unload everything from back of car so the dog can ride
- take Bingley to vet, entertain toddler in small room for 45 minutes
- quick playdate (with Bingley) at Meghan and Cody’s house
- Hannah eats dinner – I cook for Brett and myself
- Brett comes home!! (then he does bath and bedtime while I run out to see Twilight in the theater)
And squeeze potty training in there as well. This is not necessarily an average day, obviously I don’t go grocery shopping or go to the vet every day, but it certainly was a full day.
Is this balance? What the heck is balance anyway? When I hear most people say, “I just need more balance.” I feel like what they’re really saying is, “I want to do everything and put my kids in every activity possible, but that’s not working. Instead of saying ‘no’ to activities once in a while, I’d rather just gripe about how my life is out of balance.”
The definition of this elusive balance seems to be that we can all do whatever we want and not feel busy or stressed. Sorry, ladies, it ain’t gonna happen.
At my MOPS group a couple weeks ago, the women’s director Marilyn talked about balance and encouraged the better perspective of “margins.” You can schedule your time and have some activities, but you leave yourself margins for rest and flexibility. On this Tuesday I outlined above, I started the day with eating, sleeping and the grocery store on the schedule. Then I had to add the vet – no problem since my afternoon was open. And when Meghan invited us to an impromptu popcorn party, we were able to bring Bingley (still in the car from the vet) and have some fun friend time.
So I basically started the day with no scheduled activities (gasp!), but what happened – I was productive, I spent quality time with my daughter, she had quality time with her Daddy, everyone had home-cooked meals, I had some Bible time, Bingley got some medicine, we hung out with sweet friends and I had some “me” time (with Bella and Edward). That actually seems pretty “balanced” to me.
This buzzword of balance needs to go, at least with the popular definition. I don’t know who started this idea of Supermoms using their magical powers to somehow fully commit to every possible activity. Instead, families need to take some stuff off the schedule and let the margins fill in with quality time, spontaneous fun and meeting needs that come up.
My lifestyle is a gift; I want to enjoy this time and spend it helping my family and blessing others, not running around in a perpetual state of stress while bemoaning my lack of balance. I’m sticking with my margins!