In 2015, I had ambitions of completing my bachelor’s degree (psychology, if you’re curious).
And at the time, I struggled mightily with balancing life, work, and parenting. This post outlines those struggles and methods that I attempted to use. Sometimes I had to wonder where I was going to find the time to fit everything in. And then I also had to realize that sometimes it’s just okay to let it go. My priorities started to shift and slowly, but surely, everything started to fall into place.
Now, I could very well call this post – my word for the New Year. But my word for the New Year is growth. This word, on the other hand, is not just for the New Year but a life word- balance. Along the way, I’ll share my own 5 tips for balancing life, work, and parenting.
Is work/life balance really possible as a stay at home/work at home mom?
In short? No.
As I was writing this post, I was attempting to balance two hats- mom and blogger.
Squeaker was sitting on my lap attempting to have the rest of her snack and me, well I’m half attempting to feed her and write this post. Advisable? Not really.
Ideally, she would be in her high chair and I would be saving this post for later. But, since she just recently woke up from her nap, having her sit on my lap is easier on her as far as the transition and less stressful for her as well. She’s not a huge fan of confinement anyway and can only tolerate her high chair for so long.
There are days, I admit, that I’m ready to just turn aside one of these hats and to just set it on the shelf until I can fully commit. I can’t do that with motherhood nor can I really do that with being a student. I’ve contemplated, on more than one occasion, doing that with blogging. But… I don’t want to quite give that up either. So what can I do instead? I can find balance.
I know that after I’m finished with school and back in the working community, I’ll have another balancing act- but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.
5 Tips for Balancing Your Life
1- If you’re like me and happen to be a visual person, invest in a good planner or two.
I have two planners- one that I use to organize my personal life/family life and one that I use to organize my blog life. I keep them separate for a few reasons… the main one being so that I can remind myself to keep blogging separate from everything else. Another reason I keep them separate is because otherwise I’ll end up with a jumbled mess and for me that just doesn’t work at all. So how do I use these planners?
My personal life/family life planner includes the due dates for my school assignments, doctor’s appointments, anything Sweet B related (IEP, CSE, the works), birthdays, etc. It’s quite simple really and it’s a daily planner that gives me a monthly view where I can jot down quick notes. It also gives my daily view where I can write down things a bit more specific.
Another planner that we’re hoping to really start implementing is a meal planner. As it stands right now, we have three days where we cook (usually Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday) while the rest of the week we have leftovers.
I also rely on CoSchedule for my editorial calendar. At the end of the month, I start planning for next month. I’ll take a look at holidays and observances, what a month is designated for (Black History, Dental Health, etc) and also what types of food holidays are coming up (thank you Type A Parent). If I have an ongoing series (School with Squeaker, Autism and Afterschooling, Fitness at Home), I’ll start thinking about what I can do next.
Each day I try to designate for certain categories and plan to be consistent with it. That doesn’t always go to my liking, but I also make it a goal to cover at least one of my topics per day.
Except Sunday. I don’t do any blog related work on Sunday. I also use my planner to help me with social media stuff.
2- Scheduling your time, in some ways, could definitely go hand in hand with having a planner.
But a planner for me is more for organizing on a more general basis while scheduling is more specific. For example, with school in session I schedule my mornings on Mondays through Thursdays to work on homework, discussion forums, quizzes, assigned readings and whatever else there is to do.
Studying I don’t schedule because that’s just never worked for me. On Sunday evening, I go through each of my classes (this semester I have four) and see what I need to do for the week ahead. I don’t assign days to each class, but instead work on things in groups and as I get to it. Once I’m done with my college work, then I’ll allow my blog time. Housework is on it’s own schedule and I’m fortunate enough that Kyle and I pretty much split housework 50/50.
Of course, my schedule is also subject to change on a minute to minute basis depending on what Squeaker needs.
3- Having “me time” or doing something that’s just for you, I think is critical.
I’m not talking about hanging out with friends or going out on a date with your significant other/spouse but having something that’s just for you. Every Thursday night, I have choir rehearsal. This is my “me time” and I also include church on Sunday. Having this break from the kiddos, from the blog, from school- I need this.
4- Eating healthy and drinking the right things is also important for me in maintaining balance.
Sometimes I think it might be easier to just skip a meal or grab that sugary snack but I will feel it later on. Eating healthier and maintaining a proper diet is something that I’m working on this year, not just for myself but for everyone in my life. Overall fitness (mental, physical, emotional, etc) is another aspect of my life that I plan on working on this year.
5- Finally, I remind myself about my long term goals, end goals, career goals, etc.
I need to keep things in perspective to keep myself on track. That means ignoring Facebook for extended periods of time or putting off a blog post because I need to get school work done.. or because Squeaker wants to play. In my list of priorities, family always comes first. School is second. Blogging is third. If I wasn’t in school, my priorities would be slightly different. Only in that, blogging would be second if I didn’t have a part time job from home.
Other things I can do to help balance my life? Take breaks. Laugh. Take a nap. Go outside. Enjoy a favorite cup of tea. Sometimes it’s all about the little things that help restore balance. A little me time and self care go a long way.
I can look back on this and say that not too much has changed. Except I’m no longer pursuing a college degree. I am, however, pursuing various professional certifications to grow my business. But that is truly another post for another day.
What about you? How do you balance your life?