Mothers today will find it a persistent battle to keep a sense of balance. Literally, a mother strives for balance as she juggles the limited hours in a day with the massive and seemingly never ending items on a to-do and to-be list. Figuratively, a mother will endure tests that challenge her internal balance–the spiritual, mental, and emotional.
My children are 5-years-old, nearly 3-years-old, and I have one due any day. I have a fantastic supportive husband who works full-time and goes to school the rest of the time. Despite his best intentions, he is just not available like we wish he could be. Therefore, at this stage of our life, the majority of what happens at home depends on me.
I have found my ability to balance is critical. Trying to find steadiness in work, play, time, energy, emotions and moods is challenging. In pondering how to find balance, I found two main themes that have made all the difference for me and our family: having a plan and remembering “seasons”.
Having a Plan Creates Balance
Homemaking in our family includes meal preparation, house cleaning, and taking charge of calendar items. As a young mother, I have gleaned some valuable systems that help me maintain balance for this nurturing and necessary part of motherhood.
I rely on a series of written plans for balancing my homemaking. My recipe binder is simple. It is a valuable accumulation of recipes, lists, ideas and meal plans. My personal planner and home management system are keystones to achieving the day-to-day routines with as little stress and grief as possible. (Much of this has come from the Mind Organization for Moms program offered on this Power of Moms website.)
Before having written plans, I found my brain spinning with worries concerning the daily to-do items, dinner menus, and cleaning needs. I found my family relationships suffered because I was frantically keeping up with homemaking. I also found that I would neglect my homemaking in trying to make up for lost time with my kids. Ultimately, balance was not being achieved at the expense of my family.
Now that I have some structured plans set in place I spend just a little bit of time each week preparing and planning ahead. Not only do I find better balance in my homemaking, but I find that I am more able to better enjoy these basic elements of nurturing. Most importantly, I am able to devote precious time and energy to the things that matter most.
Remembering “Seasons” Brings Balance
One of my favorite ideas concerning balance comes from a religious and civic leader James E. Faust. He said, “Women today are encouraged by some to have it all: money, travel, marriage, motherhood, and separate careers in the world. For women, the important ingredients for happiness are to forge an identity . . . get an education, develop your talents, serve your family, and if possible to have a family of your own. However, you cannot do all these things well at the same time. You cannot eat all of the pastries in the baking shop at once. You will get a tummy ache. You cannot be a 100-percent wife, a 100-percent mother . . . a 100-percent career person, and a 100-percent public-service person at the same time. How can all of these roles be coordinated? I suggest that you can have it sequentially.”
He continues, “Sequentially is a big word meaning to do things one at a time at different times. The book of Ecclesiastes says: ‘To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under . . . heaven.’” (Faust, James E. “How Near to the Angels.” April 1998.)
Discovering this principle as it applies to motherhood has been life changing. I have found that remembering it has been one of the best ways I find balance in my life.
Recently, I found myself in a season of heavy study and discovery as I was seeking to implement regular family systems. I wanted to streamline our tasks, organize our time, and create systems of purpose, to ultimately bring more joy and happiness (and balance!) to our family life.
My recipe binder, personal planner, and home management system noted above were some specific fruits of my efforts. It took hours of dedicated energy to establish what worked for me. It took even more hours to fine tune, streamline and apply these systems to my family’s needs. When piles of papers and an abundance of ideas threatened to overwhelm me, I found peace in remembering that this was just a season. Ultimately, it would bring balance and happiness for our family.
It can be challenging to remember to see life in “seasons”. I am finding more confidence and balance as I do this. Some seasons come with the specific need of a child, moving to a new home, having a new baby, taking on a large volunteer experience or transitioning in some other way to what life has offered. As a direct result of this, many things are left undone. I find my greatest joys are in these seasons because I am truly balancing. I have to let up on some areas, focus heavier in others and then find a gradual rotation in all of it.
QUESTION: How am I achieving balance for the season of life I am in now?
CHALLENGE: Create one written plan that will help you achieve greater balance in your mothering.
Photo courtesy of Danielle Porter