So how to we find balance? Is it possible? Is it unrealistic? I don't think so. It takes a conscious effort to NOT get wrapped up in the schedules and 'to-do' lists, but it CAN be done.
#1 Schedule Downtime!
I know this might sound like a contradiction, but sometimes it is necessary. I am the type of person who likes to constantly be on the go. I thrive around lots of people all the time. My youngest is like that as well, but not my oldest. She is an introvert like her Dad. So I've had to adjust our lifestyle and our schedule to respect her need for downtime, alone time, and time to decompress. At first I found it annoying, but now I am so thankful for it! I have a habit of running full steam ahead until I am so drained that I meltdown and pass out. Having to work downtime into our schedule regularly has helped me to become more balanced, less stressed, and more relaxed. So pick 1 day a week or at least a few days a month and say to yourself 'we are scheduling nothing on this day.' Maybe write nothing really big in that square of the calendar or type it into your Google calendar. Whatever it takes.
#2 Take 15 Minutes
This has been one of the best things I have implemented into my daily routine. I wake up everyday, make coffee, stoke the fire in the wood stove and I sit, in quiet, by myself, and breathe. Now granted it doesn't happen everyday. There are days we wake up late, are running around like lunatics, rushing and freaking out. But for the most part, I try to set my alarm early to allow for this. It starts my day off calmly, with reflection, and focus. On the days this cannot happen first thing, I find 15 minutes at some point, to go into my bedroom, close the door, sit in silence and breathe. No iPad, no phones, no kids, no TV. Just silence. I usually leave the lights off. Seems simple, but try it!!
#3 Simple Solutions
If you are like me, you feel like you need a weekend away, a week at a beach resort, or a day at the spa to recharge. Yes those things are great! But they cannot happen on a regular basis. (Well at least for me they can't). So trying to find ways to relax and recharge at home is essential. Do whatever relaxes you. For me, it is taking a bath. You could read a book, sit outside on your deck, in your yard, listen to calming music, exercise, craft, knit.....it doesn't matter what it is, as long as it is something just FOR YOU, done by yourself. I know, I know. Easier said than done. I am the type to opt for family time over me time. But eventually that catches up with me and it's not good for anyone! So I have to schedule this as well. (Yes I have issues). However, after a while, it becomes part of your life routine and requires less and less scheduling. So find something that you enjoy, that relaxes you and that is FOR you and do it as often as possible!
#4 Learn to say NO
This one has been the hardest for me. I tend to be impulsive and want to do everything, all the time and it is just not possible. Believe me, I've tried. It cannot be done. You have to learn to say no. It is ok to say no. It is healthy to say no. The world will not come to an end if you do not participate in that bake sale, soup kitchen, or ASPCA event. Your kids will be ok if they miss that field trip, open gym, or painting class. Your kids will survive (and thrive) if they cannot do karate, softball, girl scouts, and basketball. Yes we would love to see our friends and family, but sometimes we have to say no to a birthday party, communion, or barbecue. There will be other birthdays, other open gyms and other bake sales. It is ok if that math work gets pushed off to another day. You do not have to do it all!
So slow down. Take a breath. Dishes can stay dirty today. It's ok. Science can be skipped today. It's ok. You do not have to go to that field trip. It's ok. Order take out. Finding balance is not only important for your health (and sanity), it is important to model this for our children and the future adults they will become.