more thoughts on balance…

I hope I don’t sound like a broken record, but I thought of something this evening that I’d like to share…

As Sarah & Abraham has grown and I’ve found myself enjoying this work more and more, I’ve really been letting things slide around the house. I always keep the dishes and laundry caught up, but we’ve been eating takeout and frozen pizza way more than I’d like to, and my lax attitude about vacuuming, dusting, etc. has become a bit ridiculous.

So for the past week or so I’ve shifted my focus back to this concept of balance once again. I’ve been making time for the things that matter and not allowing other things to get in the way.

For example, for the past couple of weeks my daily orders have been about three times my usual average, but I’ve been making a conscious effort to step away from the computer and make plans with friends and do fun things with my kids. My husband has been working 4-days a week so I can have one full day a week of uninterrupted work, but for the past three weeks I’ve ended up ditching work on those days to do something fun with him and the kids. I’m also trying to cook at least a little bit more.

Which brings me to this evening… I was in the kitchen making lasagna, watching my kids play in the backyard, and I felt so content. I had several orders that I could have been working on, emails I could have been replying to, and some new product ideas I was really excited to work on, but instead of feeling resentful about my role as wife/mother/homemaker taking up my time, I felt like I was doing exactly what I wanted to be doing.

Then this Brian Andreas story popped into my head, and it felt like one of Oprah’s Aha! Moments:

 

Weight Training 

This is a giant block of whatever is most difficult for you to carry & trust me on this, you’ll carry it more times than you can count until you decide that’s exactly what you want to do most & then it won’t weigh a thing anymore.

Which also reminded me of this excellent post about balance on Stacy’s Inkspot Workshop blog. If you haven’t read it already, I highly recommend it!

a day in the life of a WAHM

A few people have asked me recently how I do it all, and my answer has mostly been, “not very well!” I’ve made a conscious effort lately to put my family before work, trying not to work in the evenings or much at all on the weekends, and it’s been a real struggle to fit in the work that I’d like to get done each day.

I felt like I hardly had any time at all for work today, and I started thinking about everything I did today that women who work outside of the home don’t do or have to cram into the evenings & weekends. As I wrote this list I started thinking… this also looks like a list of reasons why my husband doesn’t want to work from home!

  1. wake the kids up, make breakfast, help them get ready for school
  2. walk my son to school
  3. order waterproof name labels for the kids’ umbrellas & water bottles and sew-in name tags for their coats, gloves, hats, etc.
  4. drive my daughter to preschool
  5. call a landscaping company about moving a lilac bush in our backyard
  6. meet with the brick paver guy to get an estimate for extending our driveway
  7. exchange emails & voice mail messages with the architect, engineer, and general contractor for the new detached garage we’re building
  8. walk to my son’s school to pick him up, talk with his teacher while he plays with a couple of classmates
  9. drive to my daughter’s preschool to pick her up
  10. make lunch
  11. meet with the landscaper and show him the bushes in our yard that need to be moved
  12. shampoo the area rug in the basement that got soaked with rain
  13. change into gym clothes and pack my gym bag
  14. reply to customer emails & fill a couple of orders
  15. take the kids to the post office, library, and Target – shop for Fall clothes & shoes for the kids, look at Halloween costumes, and pick up some groceries while we’re there
  16. get so stressed out with their awful behavior at Target that I decide to skip the gym and come home for quiet time instead
  17. clean the house, do dishes, fold laundry, and put away the deliveries that arrived yesterday (envelopes & shipping supplies) while keeping an eye on the kids playing in the backyard
  18. work on my website a little bit and take a shower (finally!) while the kids watch a movie

I’m not complaining… I love my life, I love my family, I love my business, and I’m very fortunate that I get to stay at home with my kids AND do something challenging that I love. I guess I’m just stepping back for a minute, once again, to ponder this concept of “balance” and what shape it’s currently taking.

balance

I would imagine that my struggle to find balance is a pretty universal thing among almost all stay-at-home-moms and work-at-home-moms. I have yet to find a balance between:

a) working out / eating right / taking care of myself and my family
b) spending quality time with the kids – going fun places, reading to them, doing crafts together, etc.
c) getting together with friends (both mine and the kids’) regularly
d) working on my business

It seems like whenever I really focus on one of those things, everything else falls by the wayside. For quite a while I was going to the gym 6 days/week and eating pretty healthy. Since I began really focusing on Sarah & Abraham, my gym visits have gotten less and less frequent, my ice cream consumption has increased significantly, and I’ve gained about 10 pounds.

When I make it a priority to prepare fresh, healthy meals that my family will eat without complaint, that effort seems to take up an extraordinary amount of time.

When I make it a priority to get together with friends, go to playgroups, and do fun stuff with the kids during the week, there doesn’t seem to be much time for anything else.

So what’s my point? Well, just that I really plan to make this whole “figuring out a balance” thing a priority for 2008. Surely there’s a way to make it all work. I always thought that I enjoyed “taking each day as it comes”, but I probably really do need to create a schedule and stick to it – something my husband has been suggesting for about 3 years now.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress… and advice from anyone who has it figured out (or is getting close to figuring it out) would be welcomed!