I remember like it was yesterday … Talking to my boss in the PR firm where I worked about my new love for fitness as she (then a mom of a toddler and infant) told me how badly she was struggling to be consistent with her gym efforts. In my early 20’s, carefree, stress-free, kid-free mind, I could NOT figure out why she didn’t just get up before her kids woke up to make it to an early morning gym session. All she did was work and take care of her kids while putting herself last. She was not finding life balance.
Oh, how I wish I could go back in time and slap myself. And you probably want to slap me too reading this. Now a mom of two, I have thought of her often as I hit snooze a minimum of three times before I get out of bed for my early morning clients in the gym.
Motherhood has a way of changing you…obviously.
Is anyone ever truly prepared for this job? Whether you stay home with the kids, work outside the home, work from home, send your kids to school, homeschool – there is nothing easy about this gig. I don’t have to tell you that we never get to truly turn off because our minds are always racing, thinking, planning, worrying.
We have mom guilt.
We wonder if we are doing enough for our kids.
If we are present enough for them.
Are we putting in too many hours at the office?
Should I be working outside the home?
The list goes on and on. So how do we get to that feeling of being “balanced?” The work/life balance. The mom/wife balance.
Is there such thing as ‘balance?’
Two years ago I had the honor of listening to a walking quadriplegic tell his story of how he overcame his near death mountain bike accident. I sat in awe listening to him, watching him move across the stage. A member of the audience asked him how he found balance during his recovery. And what he said has stuck with me ever since.
He said that sometimes in life, it is ok to NOT have balance. To be so focused on your goal that you put everything you have into achieving that goal. For him, it was waking up every single day with the intention to do SOMETHING that would get him one step closer to walking again. And he did it.
I apply his advice to my daily life. Best example: Multitasking.
I love this excerpt from Psychology Today:
“Much recent neuroscience research tells us that the brain doesn’t really do tasks simultaneously, as we thought (hoped) it might. In fact, we just switch tasks quickly. Each time we move from hearing music to writing a text or talking to someone, there is a stop/start process that goes on in the brain. That start/stop/start process is rough on us: rather than saving time, it costs time (even very small microseconds), it’s less efficient, we make more mistakes, and over time it can be energy sapping.”
In a nutshell, there is no way to give 100% to multiple tasks at once. Although multitasking may make us FEEL like we are doing a stellar job balancing our lives, it is actually causing more stress. Once I realized this, I was able to become more efficient with my to-do list and I felt a weight lift from my shoulders.
How does this look in real life?
When it is family time, that is my focus. No phones, no devices.
During work time, my phone is in airplane mode, and I focus on one task I am trying to accomplish.
Gym time means I am focused on my form and my mindset.
When it is laundry time….wellllll let’s just say I don’t ever focus on laundry. If you came over to my house, you’d notice that immediately.
Are there times that I revert back to my old multitasking ways? When thoughts of what else needs to get done creep in?
Of course. That’s just mom life. And that is where the eternal quest for balance continues.