Work-life balance is a fairytale-like many of the Disney movies. Don’t be confused by the deception and lies of a picture perfect life. Reclaim your sanity by embracing these 12 healthy tips on how to adapt when life picks up the pace.
It’s a never-ending question that pops up every few weeks from various persons seeking a solution on how to balance work, life, family, and finances. To be honest, I’m not sure how or where this desire to manage and balance it all came about but it is one that I see so many people struggle with and feel guilty as though they are not living up to what the standard should be in terms of balance.
Maybe this unspoken rule comes from the sitcoms and television shows where many look for direction on being the mom who manages to grow successfully in her career or business, spend quality time with her husband, manages to take care of the kids and still have time for herself no matter what. It’s a fairy tale, like the ones you see in Disney movies that tell you to find prince charming and life will be completely easy and stress free. It just somehow all works out magically in the end. Those messages are good to watch, but they are so far from the reality of what people experience on a daily basis.
There needs to be a stronger demarcation between what’s real and what’s not. And far too many people experience embarrassment and shame if they aren’t able to pull off the picture perfect life. Well, I say no more! No more with the lie, and deception.
Shift your mindset at this very moment and embrace that what you see on television and in movies is just not real. Allow yourself to embrace the fact that your life will probably not be a replica of what you see.
The question of how to balance life, career, family, finances and self, hits moms at all stages but in many cases, I think it hits those who are building a career and are simultaneously new parents the hardest as they try to juggle the demands of an unscheduled, adventurous, and beautiful rambunctious child. Moms who are heavy into their professional career can find it hard to balance as well, especially when you add taking care of aging parents to the mix.
No age bracket is immune to the questions, so review 12 healthy tips you can use to adapt and enjoy yourself when life picks up the pace.
Change your language – instead of using the word balance, choose the word integration. I learned this from Time Management expert, Dr. Deborah Johnson-Blake. Balance assumes that everything will get equal priority and attention and this is simply not possible. Some days or weeks you’ll be able to spend more time in one area than another and that is absolutely okay.
Integrate your social life – one of the quickest things to go when life picks up the pace is the time you spend socializing with friends, family and colleagues. You find yourself unable to attend functions but you don’t have to completely abstain. Schedule social events in advance on your calendar. It can be monthly or quarterly so that you still have an opportunity to do things you enjoy. Keep the lines of communication open and be fully present and engaged when you go.
Build a community – it takes a village. Places to build community can include your family members, friends, parents at school, gyms, and kids sporting events or your place of worship. This community can be essential to helping you pool resources such as carpooling, pick children up from activities, emotional support and more.
Batch and multi-task activities – prepare meals in bulk on the weekend to save time during the week. Use your automobile or commute time to catch up on industry news, entertainment news you enjoy, or phone calls. When you are a woman on the move, make audio consumption your best friend. Integrate household chores into family time. Make it fun. Put on your favorite music and have each person assigned to their chore to complete. If one person is done early, move on to help the next person until everything is clean.
Have family dinner – when things get busy during the week, intentionally schedule a sit down dinner at the table without electronics with the family. It isn’t about quantity but quality time and this 30 – 40 minutes will ensure that you have undivided attention to the family. Use this time to catch up on what’s going on with everyone, or use questions from Table Topics to get your conversations going.
Automate what can be automated – anything that has to be repeated more than twice can be automated. Automate your grocery shopping and use a food service if you can afford it. Items that are purchased in bulk like soaps, and non-perishables, have them auto-shipped to save you time. Use a family calendar like google. Place all home events on the shared calendar to reduce confusion and to keep open communication about who has what going on. Use email management tools like Boomerang to schedule emails off hours or tools within your Outlook email management system. Use prepared responses or compile a list of FAQs to address the most commonly asked questions at work or in your business to save time from repeating yourself or being asked the same thing over and over.
Be proactive – if you are working on a project for a client, don’t wait for them to ask for status updates. Integrate a central location for all communications and updates so that the status can be viewed and accessed at any given time without your intervention. Online folders like google or Trello boards can be very helpful for this.
Outsource – if your budget allows, hire a concierge, or personal assistant to help you schedule appointments, perform research, or handle those tasks that just seem to slipping through your fingers. Use a cleaning service if laundry is just not your thing. There are many things that can be outsourced. Spending quality time with your family is not one of them.
Say no – be prepared with scripted language that allows you to quickly express your choice not to take on a new project, commitment or social engagement. Many people overlook this step and lose a lot of time worrying about what the other person will think or feel, worrying what to say, deciding how to get out of a commitment, talking to friends about what to do etc. Have a script that is honest that you can use to express yourself quickly. For example, “I am operating at full capacity and won’t be able to take this project on right now. Thank you for the invitation.” It’s clear, clean, respectful and to the point.
Sleep – no matter how organized and prepared you are, if you are running on a limited amount of sleep, you will struggle. Fatigue will cause you to miss appointments, feel stressed, overwhelmed, anxious and sad. Whatever you have on your calendar and plate, it is not more important than making sure you get enough sleep. Too many of us wait until there is a life threatening moment to take this critical step seriously.
Simplify your life – get rid of unnecessary and extra clothes, furniture, toys and clutter. The less clutter you have the less cleaning you have to do and the less mental space is borrowed. Less is really more. Avoid overscheduling your kids for multiple activities. One at a time is just fine.
Have a family vision – last but certainly not least, you must do what is best for you and your family. Your family is a business and you must be intentional about setting ideas and goals about what it means to be a part of your family—not the Joneses family. If simplifying works for you, then do it. If multiple activities work for your family, then great. Maybe dinner time won’t work but breakfast time will. The key in this final point is that without a vision for what you want your family to be and the behaviors you want your family to exhibit; you’ll find yourself in an endless cycle of comparison, worrying if you are doing it right, or keeping up with what you should be doing. In essence, you set it up to fail. No one goes into business to fail, and no one starts a family for it to fail. Remember, you are in control of the decisions and choices you make.
And there you have it, 12 ways you can integrate without losing your mind.