Finding a new balance in your life
As a mom, finding balance becomes even more complicated as it involves more moving pieces. Balance between kids and a partner, balance between work and family life, kids' time and "me" time...
Gone are the days when it was just you, and maybe a plus-one figuring out what fun thing you could do on the weekend to relax. You now have to manage everyone else's needs, and yours often come last. Yes, you have needs too, nice job trying to forget about them.
I'm not saying that because you have kids now, fun is over and the rest of your life is going to be miserable. Far from it. It's just not the same, and you probably know what I mean, having experienced the before-children and after-children phases.
I'm writing this post to:
1- Tell you that you're not alone in your daily challenge to find some balance. Becoming a mom is a HUGE adjustment.
2- Share a few pointers around finding balance in life as a mom.
I used to think I was busy all the time until... I became a parent. Ha!
The first few months as a mom hit me like a tsunami, and good luck finding balance in a tsunami. I didn't know who I was anymore. I couldn't do the things I used to enjoy by lack of time or energy, and I didn't know with what to replace them. I was in the thick of a major life transition: becoming a mom.
And transitions are often uncomfortable, scary and stressful. I had to grieve who I used to be to allow this new identity to grow. I was then able to slowly get my bearings again.
I started getting used to a new life rhythm, that is... until teeth started popping out with no end in sight, the first cold hit, and those traitor naps dropped like flies leaving me with even less personal time.
My motto became "Always expect the unexpected to throw you off-balance." And life surely didn't disappoint.
I'm by no mean the poster child for balance. I certainly could do a better job at it. Right now, balance for me means handling the basics, eating sufficiently healthy, laughing as much as possible, getting enough sleep to function well, be emotionally-balanced, be present for my family and be good at my job. And that's a lot.
It's a treat when I get to exercise, meet with friends or go on a date with my partner. The icing on the cake.
My expectations are different now, and I also hold that they are changing as my son gets older. I can see in my future more lunch dates with girlfriends, more traveling, more tools to manage the daily stress. Maybe you're already there or have been for a while, that's great.
Now, here are a few thoughts / tips that hopefully will resonate with you and help you with your own balance.
Balance is fragile
As soon as you start losing your footing, its counterpart - let's call it "instability" comes to take over. And that's OK. It's part of the deal. You fall and fail at the balancing act more times than none. But the beauty of it is that we always get another chance at it. If you haven't been taking care of yourself or paid as much attention to your partner or kids, you can still fix the situation.
Balance needs awareness
You need to step back, make an assessment, pay attention to the signs when you can. Does your partner keep repeating how much he/she/they miss you? Do you spend a few minutes to connect with your kids after a long workday and not go on duties-mode immediately?
Balance is a concept that evolves based on where you are in your life. If you're a new mom, balance may be incorporating into your day and night of baby care a few moments to connect with friends and loved ones, eat a nourishing meal, have personal time to just shower. With a toddler, it may be to use the nap time to exercise, read a book, have a date, work on your business, or at times take a nap. If you work, it may entail some changes in your schedule (if you have that luxury that is) as your kids grow up.
Balance is not perfection
Kindness toward yourself will go a long way. Balance is a goal, an intention that you want to keep in mind and remind yourself of. Balance is not judgmental or critical because you weren't able to go to that yoga class or have that simple cup of tea in quiet like you hoped for.
Balance is personal
My definition of balance or my needs around it are probably different from yours. Our trigger point that tips the scale from wellbeing to stress is individual and connected to our environment and life circumstances. I often read lists on how to improve self-care and half of the suggestions are simply unrealistic for my situation, or they don't fit with who I am. So make your own list, find out what works for you.
Balance requires communication
Finding balance requires you to have an open and regular dialogue with yourself and others. Check in with yourself. Take a inventory of how you feel. Ask yourself what you need to make this day or week better. Maybe it's carving some time alone, maybe it's spending more time as a family.
Once you are clear with what your needs are, don't keep them to yourself or expect that your partner (for example) is going to magically guess what they are. I know, wouldn't that be great if relationships included telepathy? For now, you'll have to take charge and communicate them.
Balance needs flexibility
Expect the unexpected. It takes time to find your bearings as a mom, adjust to a routine that is constantly changing. Oh yes. If no one told you, as soon as you feel you got your grove back, you feel in control and know what to expect... bang! Something changes to throw you off balance. And that's OK as long as you keep the big picture in mind and know it's part of the package.
So what about you? How has motherhood impacted your balance in life? Leave me a comment below and tell me what has helped or worked for you and what hasn't.
Copyright: wavebreakmediamicro / 123RF Stock Photo
About the author: Valerie Abitbol, LMFT, owner of Flow Counseling, PLLC is a counselor and therapist in Denver, Colorado. She specializes in couples and women dealing with major life transitions. She helps them move from feeling scared and overwhelmed to finding balance and a new normal in their lives. Valerie also provides counseling to couples to help them heal, reconnect, and grow happiness.