Work life balance has become a buzz word for so many moms and yet it has so many meanings that no one really knows what it means or how to achieve it.
For some, it means complete freedom to be the mom they always wanted to be and attend every event their child experiences while running their at home business.
For others, it means home cooked meals, scheduled date nights and time with friends.
And yet for others, it might mean a career with little travel that allows them to be home at night.
Some have found the secret, while others believe it’s unattainable.
If I’m being honest, I am in the camp that believes work life balance is an unattainable concept. Now before I lose you, understand that while I think complete balance is unattainable, I do believe that work life balance works more as a pendulum rather than a balanced scale.
What does it mean to be balanced?
Does it mean that I am devoting equal time to everything? If devoting equal time is what was expected, I would feel like I was cheating my kids when I went off to work, or that my husband was suffering when I had a night out with friends. Balance seems hard to attain when the pin it’s resting on is so small that even the smallest change can send it falling in one direction.
Instead, I see balance more as a pendulum that swings side to side. The crazy thing about those silly little toys is the further you pull back one side the further the other side swings out, but the center barely moves and it always returns to starting position as it slows down.
To me those balls represent multiple areas of my life:
What I have come to realize is that there are certain times of the year, month, week or day where those areas may find a different place in the pendulum, impacting where they land and how far out of whack they swing. However, the most important revelation I have had is that if I let my faith escape from the center of the pendulum everything else is out of whack. Centering my faith means making church a priority with my family, regardless of how tired we are, how much we wish we could sleep in, or how busy our day is going to be. It means praying before meals and at bedtime, sharing in that journey and letting everyone take turns. It means sitting with my Bible in the quiet of the night and journaling my hopes and prayers for my family and life.
The balls on either side of faith are family and work. These two swing back and forth never in complete balance, but instead in unison. There are days when having a career makes me feel empowered and successful, giving me purpose in my education. I don’t feel guilty when I go to work, maybe I should, but that doesn’t benefit anyone. Instead, I show up with my suit pants on and a name tag bearing my title and I rejoice in the gifts I have been given.
When I exit those doors, I spend the short drive home switching gears, taking in breaths of fresh air and centering myself for what’s about to happen.
As I walk through the door of my house, I am met with the chitter-chatter of little mouths and the pitter-patter of tiny feet. I become mommy in those moments and I try my hardest to engage with all I have. I want to be the example of love, patience and kindness to my kids and I have to be attentive and intentional for that to happen. It is also in these moments that I get to cherish my husband and embrace the quiet moments after the kids go to bed to connect more deeply.
Other days I realize how important it is to have time with friends filling my cup through conversation, laughter and sharing of the hardest circumstances. I am social by nature and NEED that time to connect with other women. I have worked hard to make it a priority to meet for coffee after the kids go to bed, a lunch time walk in the middle of the work day or just a girls night out to regain my sense of self. These moments for me are so important and feed my soul in a place that can often become neglected.
My health can often swing back and forth in the pendulum, some days I feel like I have found “balance” and other days I feel like I am grasping at straws. I have realized for me that it is okay to step away from the routines of working out every so often. When it becomes a chore for me, I tend to rise up in defense and it becomes more of a stress than a stress reliever. Like everything, there are seasons. Some seasons are met with nightly home cooked meals, prepped lunches and scheduled, hard core workouts; other seasons consist of eating out, scrounging for lunch and realizing the only exercise was an after dinner walk with the family. The reality is both of those seasons are good. We are able to learn and grow as we embrace each season of our life in different ways.
While you may feel like your life is out of balance right now, I would challenge you to look a little deeper and see if it is actually swinging beautifully as part of the pendulum of life. Find hope in the seasons, put effort into those areas that are lacking and give yourself grace that you are doing the best you can do in this season of life.