Have you ever read the children’s story Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina? In the story, a man carries a huge stack of caps around with him. Although I don’t sell hats, I often feel like the hat-seller, carrying many hats on my head at once, because I wear many metaphorical hats myself.
My hats include my roles as a writer, mother, business owner, wife, volunteer, homemaker, teacher, and more. Some days, I feel like I wear all my hats with ease. Most days, I feel like I am scrambling to get everything done.
I believe one of the hardest things for the modern woman is finding life balance. In previous generations, women’s primary responsibility was often caring for the home and raising young children. When the children went to school, mother could spend her days caring fully for the home and needs of the family, perhaps by sewing clothes for her children to wear, tending a garden, or preparing food.
Today’s women, I believe, have it both a little harder and a little easier. It is probably easier to clean the home than it was in the past. If we need a free hour or two, there are babysitters we can hire to watch the kids. However today’s modern women are often expected to do more. We may be trying to raise our children; feed the family; clean the home; earn income; volunteer at school, church, and other organizations; make beautiful craft projects; spend time with friends and family; remember every detail on the family calendar; make one-on-one time for our husbands; and somehow, always know where that missing sock is located.
Although finding the balance in life is difficult, I found that it is essential to keeping my sanity. Without some sense of balance, I quickly get overwhelmed by all my roles in life. I’ve found that a few practical solutions have helped me maintain some balance in my life:
I am a list woman. I cannot function without my to-do list. My brain simply cannot remember every small detail. I put everything on my list, from how many loads of laundry I need to do that day, to work deadlines, to appointments for the kids. I personally keep my to-do list on Google Drive so I can access it from anywhere.
Each day I set my priorities for that day. On any given day, these might be different. If my children were whiny and clingy the day before, my top priority might be spending extra time with them. When deadlines loom, work is my top priority. When my children are out of underwear, laundry becomes number one.
I keep track of which priorities are at the top of the list and try to complete the most essential tasks every day. Sometimes, this means my home looks akin to a war zone, and sometimes this means that things I wanted to finish for work simply must wait. But when I prioritize, the most important always get done—whatever that happens to be for that day.
I have to give myself grace some days. I cannot “do-it-all” all at once. Sometimes I need help, and that is okay. I have dropped kids off at grandma’s or a friend’s house so I can focus on other things. I have hired someone to clean my house while I focus on kids or school. Many days, my husband has picked up food on the way home so we have dinner to eat. I believe that mothers shouldn’t feel guilty about how we keep our families clothed, healthy, and happy.
Life balance is a tricky trapeze ride. Sometimes I feel like I am on a crazy train going nowhere, but I know I am giving what my family needs. The balancing act gets tricky, but with my three coping methods, I manage to make it through every day. I take pride in my accomplishments even though they may look helter-skelter to the outside world.
QUESTION: Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the balancing act? What tricks do you use for maintaining balance in life?
CHALLENGE: Commit to find your top priorities each day, plan your day around those priorities, and above all, give yourself grace when you aren’t perfect.
Images by BrandonSigma/FreeDigitalPhotos.net and Brenda Priddy (children).