As a working Mother of 6, balance is kind of like trying to find a Unicorn.
It is very easy for any parent to feel overwhelmed because there is always so much to do and your day never goes as planned. So I recently took 9 days to pray, fast, meditate and think about how I can bring more balance into my life. And most days it is like chasing a unicorn.
In order to find the magical formula I asked myself the following questions:
What is an ideal day for me?
When do I feel at my best?
When does my home feel most at peace?
And this is what I determined: Balance means Presence.
7 Things to do in order to find Balance
1. Wake up before kids and Meditate for 10 mins.
I'll be honest, most days this is wishful thinking. For example, the other night I practically pulled an all-nighter because our baby had a terrible cough. So instead of meditating before the kids are up, I sat down with the baby and closed my eyes for 1 minute. And that works too.
But, when I actually fulfill this goal there is greater balance in my day because I understand my priorities and feel more at peace with my choices.
Try to sit in silence. Do nothing. Think of nothing. Turn off all the noise.
"God, today I offer you my day. I surrender the day to you. I put my life in your hands. Help me to rest in You."
And I end my meditation repeating, "I am an Awesome Mom. My kids are good listeners. And today will be a perfect adventure. Thank You."
2. Write down 6 Things that need to be completed for that day.
I wrote about this here.
These are things that you want to get done, and typically they are hard things you try to avoid. For example for me it would be calling my health insurance provider and asking them how I submit my own claim. Or fill out after school activity paperwork and stare at a calendar for hours trying to figure out logistics. Or meal planning. Or scan documents. Or pick out goodie bags online for a party. Or scheduling a dentist cleaning. Or going through mail. Or changing the oil in your car. Or organize a room.
I do this so my brain can rest. Otherwise it never stops running and thinking about all the things I need to do. Make the list achievable and manageable. This will get you away from the mentality of never feeling caught up.
3. Time for Deep Work
For me, depending on the day, this needs to be a 4-10 hour chunk of time uninterrupted where I do only one thing at a time. This could be responding to work emails, conference calls, writing up a proposal, etc. This will vary depending on your situation, but fulfilling your actual work and/or vocation.
4. Make your spouse a priority and outsource as much as you can.
"Outsource as much as you can, except sex with your husband," I heard this from a female executive when referencing finding balance. Use as many resources as you can afford - cleaning, babysitting, amazon and instacart are some of the things I use to outsource so I have more time with my spouse and family.
I believe spending time on my marriage is the greatest gift I can give to my children, so I make it a priority. We sometimes drive in to work together, or we drop the kids off at school together or we tag along to doctor's appointments or we schedule coffee/work meetings. Do what works best for your schedule and routine, but make time together a priority.
5. Be Present at Home and put the phone away after 6:00pm
Love begins at home. Home is where your children learn what matters. So be with them. Love them. Teach them what matters.
I have noticed that my life feels more balanced when I have 3-4 hours of quality time with my family. And it's important that it is quality time free of distractions. But there are days when I have had a long work day and there isn't much left to give. Sometimes I just lay down in the family room and let them climb and jump all over me. And it is ok to voice that you are tired or today was hard and I am doing my best.
In the grand scheme of the world spending time with family is what matters.
I always try to remind myself that work, money, and achievement will never love me back and will not matter on my deathbed.
6. Pray the Rosary every night
Some days this is the only thing I do out of everything listed. It is an efficient way to teach faith, the virtues, meditation, patience, character, etc. And our rosary as a family most evenings is imperfect. But, I believe in the discipline and routine of praying it every day, even if it looks like a bad wrestling match. Because kids do not remember what you say, but they will remember what they see. So if they see my husband and I attempting at prayer every night we hope they will remember that.
Even if a spouse is traveling we make it happen by using FaceTime or speakerphone. Sometimes we also say it in the car. Or we put on a youtube video.
You can listen to ours here.
7. Conclude the day with gratitude
This is my favorite, but I would say I only achieve it maybe 2-3 times a week. The next day flows so much better and is more intentional because I am fully aware of all my blessings. Instead of feeling overwhelmed about life, I see it as a gift.
Gratitude has taught me we can truly feel and experience love when we remember and enjoy all of the wonderful things we have been given.
You can also make your entire day a prayer full of thank you's, which will also make you feel more present through out the day.