How to find balance between the things that matter most in your life.
Last night, 15 minutes before my 7-year-old daughter's bedtime, she reminded me that we forgot to study for the next day's spelling quiz. Meanwhile, my 2-year-old son was fighting a 102-degree fever, and my husband was on his way out the door to run a work call that would keep him out past midnight.
Before leaving, my husband practiced spelling words with my daughter and I fed my son a teaspoon of fever-reducer. By the time I got the kids to sleep and myself into pajamas, there was still laundry to fold, dishes to load and work e-mails to answer.
This is my life.
Unscheduled events pop up hourly. Who has time to play sex kitten as a wife when you're also trying out for world's best mom, employee of the month and domestic goddess extraordinaire? And forget keeping yourself happy, manicured and in shape.
I have struggled with finding balance since the moment I became a mom. It's only been in the past few years that I've learned how to make little changes that create big differences when it comes to creating balance in my life.
Here are stress-free five tips for balancing the five most important things in your life:
1. Exercise as soon as you wake
If I want to keep a sense of well-being, exercise is a must. The only way I can make sure it happens is by waking 45 minutes earlier than everyone else to squeeze in a 30-minute walk or jog. Fitting your workout into your morning positively impacts your entire day.
2. Don't check your e-mail before your day begins
If you are someone who sleeps with your cell phone on your nightstand so that you can check e-mails, texts or Facebook before getting out of bed, you need more help than this list can give you.
Immediately plugging into other people's questions, comments or status updates disrupts whatever it is you're doing. Starting the morning with a series of disruptions will only result in your day going south before it has even begun.
3. Turn off the TV
This rule is a difficult one for my family to keep. Turning on our television is as involuntary as flipping on a light switch. But since I started enforcing TV-less afternoons, our family has spent more time talking, playing and dancing together.
Instead of the television, we play music — the time my kids used to spend watching SpongeBob while Mom got dinner started is now spent dancing around the kitchen and singing Cake lyrics.
4. If you can afford it, outsource it
I know that telling people to pay someone to clean their house in times of economic hardship is absurd. That is not what I'm saying… exactly.
What I am saying is that if work, kids, husband and home are a burden, you most likely have a career. Along with your career, you may have a budgeted amount of cash to indulge in manicures, new shoes, eating out or daily lattes. The money you'd typically use to take a family of four out to dinner (somewhere other than a fast food joint) could be used pay someone else to scrub your toilets and floors once a month.
5. Ask for what you want
If your work schedule is not working for you, consider all of your options. Can you rearrange your hours, or work from home? Can you stay later some days so that you can leave earlier other days? Your boss might say no, but if you put real thought and compromise into a proposed schedule change, she might say yes.
Or perhaps you need your spouse—or someone else in your life—to meet you halfway. Sometimes, all it takes is finding the courage to ask.
My life is as full as my first cup of coffee in the morning. There are still days when I feel like my head is going to explode.
Between having a husband and two kids, a full-time career with part-time writing assignments, a house that doesn't clean itself (no matter how much I plead with it), and my first mini-marathon looming in the not-too-distant future, nobody is going to confuse me with the Dalai Lama.
But using these five simple tricks continuously helps me appreciate all that I have instead of wishing any of them away.