“Why can’t I find a balance?” I grunt to myself as I ram crap covered clothes in the washer, while holding flash cards up to my three year old (who will obviously be “nurtured” into reading the whole Oxford reading tree before he starts school next year), shoving rice cakes in the general direction of my clingy 17 month old, and asking Alexa to play Old McDonald had a fucking farm (again) as food and Mr Tumble’s singing are the only thing that currently keeps the peace. I’m also replying to emails in my head, wondering whether I remembered to get my client notes ready for my next appointment and praying my husband will be thrilled that we’re having a takeaway for tea again.
I can’t explain how often I feel like this. Overwhelmed, frustrated, mind-numbed. Like my life disappeared when I had kids and was replaced by a literal cycle of shit, screaming, toileting and wondering how to get any semblance of vitamins into a tea of chicken nuggets and chips again. I wonder why no one else in the world feels like they’re failing as spectacularly as I am!
Oh, you feel like that too?
Actually, I know. We all frigging feel like this! The irony is that we don’t think anyone else does. The pictures of my screaming at Alexa rarely make my FB feed and in fact the only food that features on there is the sweet picture of my son eating carrot soup that I’d actually bothered to throw in a soup maker (genius invention BTW) – before he flung it across the dining room in rage that I’d tried to help him eat it, rather than use it as shampoo.
The reality is that I’m a bloody good mum – but it mostly bores me to tears (sorry kids – I’m sure it’s heaps more fun when you stop wiping bogies on me). I’m also a well-recommended therapist, with great reviews. And I’m doing well as a business owner (seeing as about 80% of businesses fail within their first year, and 40% of the remainder fail within the next 5 years). I have a nice house, an ace husband (any single mums reading this, I award you an actual, genuine knighthood) and no real worries. Yet I frequently feel like I’m falling to pieces and that I’m failing in every area.
I honestly feel like finding the balance is the answer to all my problems.
Except, it doesn’t exist. Well, certainly not to the degree that I need it to in order for my life to fall into the makeup-wearing, neat hair, healthy snacks and yoga scenario I daydream about. BUT that doesn’t mean I couldn’t benefit from making some real and practical changes.
So, in an effort to find a balance of some description I started doing a few things differently.
My main “helper” in this was downloading a habit tracker. I used to use one before and I don’t even really know why I stopped but it helps SO much. I’ve created you a beautiful one here to download. The idea is to write down a list of things that you want to do every day, or week, or even month that would help you stay on top of overwhelm. Down the side are my tasks such as:
- Check wash basket (if I don’t remember to check it soon explodes out of control)
- Check ironing pile (ditto)
- Meditate (10 minutes on my bed with headphones in. Best part of the day)
- Kids vitamins
- Social media posts done/scheduled
- Decided tomorrows meals
- Food shop (weekly)
- Visit grandparents (monthly)
Then each time that you do them you colour in the box for that date. I tend to chop and change my tasks as necessary. As we all know only too well, we get so busy that we put things off – and that leads to guilt. If I miss a couple of days of social media my business suffers and I feel guilty, if I don’t think about tomorrow’s tea we end up with a takeaway which is delicious but ruined by guilt (there is NO guilt when it’s a planned takeaway), if I haven’t visited my grandparents time flies by and the guilt builds, when my kid is going to nursery in trousers when it 26 degrees because all of his shorts are in the wash, the guilt is horrendous.
Yet, we can have control. It’s not a big deal. Most of the things I feel I’m failing at are all down to my own planning. I often don’t realise the wash basket is half full – if I’d checked it would mean I wasn’t trying to do 3 loads of washing in a day when it’s raining! It’s that simple. It’s keeping on top of things the best that you can. That’s balance. It’s most definitely not about being in control of everything all of the time. It’s about making sure that the time you allocate for yourself is AS important as the stuff you do to keep the kids alive and the household functioning. It’s about not making your business less of a priority than the other things. Some months the house needs more, some months your business needs more. Most months you need more – but will you have the determination to move yourself up the priority list? That’s a big one! If you’re struggling with this, try using the When the Going gets Rough printable to remind you what you need. Check out the blog about it here.
Women that I work with almost always say that they believe it’s selfish to put themselves first.
I personally think that generally, women are the emotional dictators in a household, and in life. If I’m in a foul mood, my husband gets sucked into that, my kids get snapped at and start being upset or angry and everyone is drawn into the foulness. On the flip side, if I’m in a good mood, everyone else follows suit. It’s magic! If I’m looking after myself and making my own life easier and happier it has a massive effect on everyone else. So, it’s completely unselfish to put your needs first.
Right, I’m off to plan tomorrows meals! 💪