I have joked before about how balance and "having it all" is really quite the impossibility—that really life is a series of balancing, teetering and falling down, and then picking yourself up again and starting over. I am still convinced that in order to have an semblance of balance in your busy life, you have to let some things go and allow others to take priority. I jokingly coined the phrase “the suck line”—that at any given time in your life, you are going to have something that is falling off the grid, something that just sucks. For me, it's usually laundry. Laundry is never on the grid. And that’s OK. You must give yourself permission to let some things just suck.
Over the years I have found a few life hacks that make balance a little more obtainable, or at least the appearance of it.
If Momma Ain't Happy: As a busy working mom and wife, I have learned that the old airplane warning of putting the oxygen mask on yourself before putting the mask on others is paramount. It's very difficult to find the time and energy to work out or eat well sometimes. But I desperately urge my athletes and friends to consider just how important it is to take care of yourself. If Momma is happy, there's a better chance that the rest of the family will be too. Not to always put the pressure on the mom, but hey, sometimes it's just the truth.
For the record, the same goes for singles and folks who aren't parents. Self-care is the number-one thing that we can do for ourselves to bring in a feeling of well-being and balance.
Be a Ninja: Sometimes in order to sneak in a workout or some me-time in this busy world, we have to act like a ninja. Sneak out of the house before dawn. Run quietly on a treadmill in the dark basement. Pre-make food and store it in the fridge so you can quietly eat without waking up the kids or the significant other. Still, this ninja act goes back to the core of taking the time to balance your own needs too.
Let It Go: Tony Horton, fitness and health guru, repeatedly says, "Do your best. Forget the rest." If you are out there in life, giving your best, then you have nothing to worry about. You can't be everything to everyone at all times. But if you try to make your priorities true priorities, then you will find that you can manage a lot more than you ever believed. For example, maybe you signed up to volunteer at that bake sale and you are realizing that something else, something far more important, is being neglected for the sake of pastries. Do not feel bad saying no and letting the bake sale go! It's OK! Learning to say no and reorganizing the things that do not benefit your life or bring you joy is paramount to a life of semi-balance. In the words of "Frozen", sometimes you just must "Let it go."
Don't Apologize: Never, ever apologize for taking time to care for yourself. Do not explain to the doubters and the haters out there why you take time away from your kids to go run a 5K or swim. You don't have to explain to the naysayers why you take care of yourself. For the record, you are a huge influencer (arguably the biggest!) in your family. You get to decide what is best for you and your family. When children see you working out and eating well, doing wonderful things for yourself and your health, they will grow up to also mimic those actions. You are a trailblazer for your family's health! Keep the faith.
Image via Meredith Atwood