Most moms tend to be one spilled milk cup away from a breakdown these days, but there are those few mothers who just seem to have it all together. You want to think that they are hiding their panic, and that the balls they are juggling will all be dropped the moment you turn the other way, but yet you don’t suspect that’s the truth.
No, it is not a competition or a challenge to see who has it all together. It is, however, detrimental to your own sanity to figure out the best way to find a balance. More mothers than ever are crossing over from the stay-at-home position to the work-from-home position. Many more are working outside of the home. All are the keepers of the schedules, the ones who remember the playdates, the planners of most meals, shoppers of most items. Almost all are the ones who miss work with sick babies, and have to push harder and longer with less sleep and higher expectations than those without children.
It is not physically or mentally possible to give 100% of yourself to more than one thing during any given moment; the struggle comes when you try to do just that, give more of yourself than you have. Women are the queens of multitasking. Our brains are actually designed to process more than one thing at a time, so much so, that it can be hard to focus on one task. This is where balance plays a huge role in happiness and mental health.
Our society has placed unrealistic expectations on mothers through social media walls, Pinterest boards, magazine articles, and even holiday cards. Everything is a painted picture of perfection. These links, blogs, recipes, and pictures are enough to send a moldable mother over the edge, especially if she is also working and maintaining everything of importance surrounding her family.
Notice how no one ever talks about balancing it all, though; it is just somehow expected.
As a writer and homeschool mother of five children, ages 8 to infant, I am constantly losing and finding my balance. I can tell that I am at a breaking point when I need to deep breathe through breakfast on a Tuesday. It is in these moments that I need to remember that balance is an ever-changing motion; as I move, it moves. As children enter different phases or have harder days, the balance shifts again. As a writing deadline approaches, there is another shift.
How to Find a Balance
Remember again that this balance is not a constant, and you will be continually figuring it out.
There is one truth in motherhood: There is no mother without YOU. You must take care of yourself to take care of your children. While there will never be enough hours in the day, you need to pursue something that is solely yours. This may be exercise, art, reading, singing, watching a movie, coffee dates with friends, or simply a bath. This time is meant to explore your own needs, wants, and rebalance the weights you are carrying.
Know that things are things. Stop trying to make up for time spent elsewhere by spending time buying something that is not needed. Raise your children to understand that you work to make money. Your money helps pay bills, provide clothes, buys food, and allows for fun experiences! Children who grow up understanding this will have more patience, financial understanding, and higher work drive than those who are not taught such skills. Your children do not need more things. Things are often lost, broken, or donated faster than they are paid off. Things are not worth it. Stressing out over these things adds one more weight to balance that needs to be dropped.
Ask for help. No one should be doing it all on their own. While finding a supportive village may not happen overnight, utilizing resources to hire a babysitter, cleaner, or personal assistant can help you stay balanced. If you let go of spending extra money on things, you may be able to use the saved money on having your house cleaned, which then frees up more time to spend with your family.
Let go of excess stress and emotion. We, as women, have a tendency to carry around stress that isn’t even ours. We worry for others, become anxious over what we cannot control, and create stress where it does not need to be. Therapy is always a great option, but if it is not possible, keeping a mantra such as, “Breathe in peace, breathe out love” can help you let go of this stress that you do not need to carry.
While finding your balance, do so knowing that your goal is not to look like the mothers that you envy, but to find a more peaceful and loving existence in the phase of motherhood that you are journeying through. Once you find this peace, everything will be more fulfilling, especially the grace you grant yourself when you don’t complete everything on your list.