Achieving Life Balance Is A Juggling Act
As we head into fall, I already feel like I have dropped at least two balls along the way. I was on a roll – food prep done, exercise on point, good sleep, work going well, taking care of the kids and then, somewhere around day three, it all fell apart. I’m not sure how. Chalk it up to starting at a comfortable speed and then accelerating to a breakneck 100 miles per hour in seconds. Everyone is full tilt again.
Whether it is dance class or piano lessons, soccer or karate, school drop-offs and daycare pick-ups, preschool tears, activities, homework, meals, laundry, bills or work – trying to find balance in your life seems like an impossible task. Planning for success most of the time is great in theory, but it doesn’t give us any permission to fail – and let’s face it, we are going to fail. Balls will be dropped; it is inevitable.
How many parents forget a kid’s show-and-tell project? Or meant to put the shoes in the bag for after-school soccer and somehow forgot? Or your kid comes home and, with an audible sigh, informs you that you forgot the fork for the pasta lunch you packed them. Again. At least you don’t forget your child at a gas station. (Or, if you do, you drive back and get them.) Right? 😉
Mom, You Don’t Have To Juggle Everything At Once
A life coach once told me to look at life like a collection of balls you are juggling simultaneously – the more things you add, the more adept you have to be at knowing what is coming down, and what needs to get thrown in the air again. It helps to have a basket at your feet so that you can put balls down from time to time. You have to be realistic and name the balls – work, school (homework/activities), cooking, exercise, home projects, chores. Here are several ways you can take charge of your life – and your health – so juggling becomes a skill you master.
Six Tips To Help You Become An Expert Juggler
📝 Plan and Organize
Buy the oversized wall calendar, use your phone reminders, invest in Post-It notes. Find a system that works and organize on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Have two baskets for important documents that come home – yours, and the kids’. Be realistic: there are only 24 hours in any day, and you need 6-8 of them to sleep. One of my greatest lessons in the last few years is that life takes time – driving them to soccer takes time, folding laundry takes time, making dinner takes time. Yes, you can multitask and most Moms have PhDs in it. But be realistic with your time.
🧘♀️ Make Your Health The Number One Priority
You already know the airplane-gas-mask rule, right? Stay on top of your health: go for routine check-ups with the doctor and dentist, take care of your well-being by sleeping, eating well and exercising, practicing mindfulness, and carving out your “me” time. You need to see your friends; you need to spend time with yourself. You were a person before you became someone’s Mom. Take care of her.
⚠️ Learn To Say No
That kid who your kid has never mentioned will not notice if your kid isn’t at their birthday party. If you have too much going on, say no. If you need an afternoon to do laundry while your kids watch a movie, say no. If you don’t feel like going to the toy store, getting a wrapped Lego set for a kid you barely know, say no. You will tell yourself that it gives you time to grocery shop while they are at the party. Sure… if you are a grocery ninja. I’ve been there: racing through the aisles because I only actually have 45 minutes is more stressful than if I didn’t go at all.
Sleep is the buzzword because you need it. Quite simply, the body can’t cope with sleep deprivation. You crave sugar and caffeine, and weight gain happens faster. Aim for as much as you can get. Make sure you have a going-to-bed routine that includes turning off all devices, having herbal tea (if that’s your thing) and writing in a gratitude journal. Research shows having a gratitude practice makes you healthier and happier.
🥗 Eat Well
As a health coach, I am constantly asked about food: Should I go paleo? What’s up with keto? Is gluten bad for me? I’m going to make it very easy and share New York Times best-selling author Mark Bittman’s rule: eat a largely plant-based diet, with tons of fresh greens, eat meat sparingly, limit your sugar intake, eat lots of healthy fats and drink plenty of water.
Not only do you need to do this for your physical well-being, but you need to do this to stay sane: hundreds of science-backed articles show that exercise helps alleviate symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress – the three big mental health issues for Moms. You have to find a time that works for you; if you’re an early riser, do an online workout in your living room. Or, if you’d prefer to work out after work, get an accountability partner – your partner (book a sitter!) or a friend – who wants to come to a class with you in the evening. You have to do cardio, strength training and flexibility. That means getting sweaty, lifting weights (or, better yet, using your own body weight for squats, push-ups and planks) and stretching.
Being proactive and taking care of your life is vital – because who wants to be a stressed out, screaming Mom? We’ve worn that t-shirt far too many times. Why don’t we change it?
This year, strive for a little less life, and a little more balance.