Balancing in life is a struggle.
We are all struggling.
Those whose babies haven’t been yet.
Those who are at home with toddlers.
Those who are at home with one or multiple school-aged children.
It doesn’t matter where you are in parenthood - you’re not alone in the battle to have balance in life.
What’s easy to forget though is that our children are also sharing in that difficulty.
They may be more resilient, but it doesn’t negate their own struggle.
So today, I’m breaking down the steps I’ve taken to accomplish balancing in life and how you can find it as well.
Balancing in Life - The Routine
Our routines have been turned upside down.
That’s if your routine was solid, to begin with.
If you’re new to routines or had something challenging your routine just before the lockdowns began you’re probably on this epic struggle bus with me.
Balancing in life seems like Mission Impossible.
How can I have any sort of routine when every day runs together into one gigantic blur.
Today was last week, right?
Oh and we just had the time change so it’s also light out when the kids should have been in bed a half-hour earlier.
Is there light at the end of the tunnel? I don’t have that answer.
Leaving the house, the on-site school schedules, and everything that broke up the day still doesn’t really exist.
Balancing in Life - Education
We are trying to homeschool two of our five children while the oldest attends online and onsite classes in a weird hybrid model thing-a-ma-jigger.
We are truly blessed to have that offered at all with our oldest.
He has a host of learning disabilities, many of which can’t be formally diagnosed until he’s older and he’s also on the spectrum.
Any change of routine for him throws all hopes of balance in life out the window.
He’s moody, irritable, and can’t make sense of why his schedule isn’t the same.
Why is he on-site some days and not on the others?
Why can he see his teachers sometimes, but not others?
Why do his siblings get to have school with daddy?
Honestly, up until just now typing this, I didn’t fully understand the magnitude of this situation.
He struggles, but he still doesn’t lose his absolute ish every day like mommy or daddy surely will by the end of the day.
Sure, he’s not himself, but he wakes up and does the best he can every day.
He deserves way more credit than we are giving him.
I’m going to have to tell him that when he wakes up this morning.
What about my other kids? They miss the opportunity to attend.
We “homeschool” and I say that loosely because we’re not following a curriculum.
They’re still young and don’t really need any formal education as of yet.
They play their Osmo, help in the kitchen, and learn some basic math with those hands-on at-home scenarios.
Sure, they work a little bit from a workbook, but we focus more on life skills that can be a teachable moment in academics.
It just works for us.
There’s just the right balance of academics, real life, and play that simply helps us balance our life and theirs.
No one is having to sit at a screen all day nor are we the parents struggling to keep up with all different school zoom schedules.
Most think it’s easier for kids to find balancing in life - but it’s just as hard as it is for us.
Balancing in Life - Normalizing the Abnormal
We talked about this a little bit with balancing in life earlier, but I feel it’s necessary to word vomit how the adults **cough cough** me **cough cough** may be downplaying how this affects our children.
We fully understand that we have to social distance, wear masks, and that, no we can’t go to Chuck E. Cheese today even though you filled out your chore chart.
Sure, they may be familiar that we can’t do XYZ, because of Corona, but I feel it’s difficult for them to understand in everyday life.
Usually, around this time of year, it’s warm enough that we’ll try to head to the beach, park, or something outside at least every other weekend.
This year? We’re not having any of that. No zoo trips, nada.
Okay, there are still some trips taken.
We’ll head out to larger regional parks or the park across the street if it’s empty, but otherwise, we’re sequestered to our small patio for fresh air.
I swore up and down that I’d never be the tablet mom or the handheld video game mom, but everything in balance I guess.
We can’t do XYZ so we’re going to find what we CAN do. I know this is not the perfect solution, but at some point, we’ll be able to go back outside.
The tablet time will go back to being a rewarding experience and the outside world will be their oyster.
We have to find some balance in our lives in what works for OUR family.
Balancing in Life - Work Life
What’s a home-work-life balance? I’m asking truthfully. What is that??
Perhaps our family struggles with this more than others in a normal world, but this virus has affected so many home-work life balances as many parents are now working from home.
When trying to get that balancing in life, we can tell ourselves that okay from x time to y time I’m “at work.”
That’s all well and good, but that’s not really how it works.
Unless you have a home office that you can actually lock yourself in and the only way in is through a secret passage that has actually remained secret- your partner and children will find you.
Your toddler will dance naked in a zoom meeting.
Your partner will ask you for the dumbest things that could have waited all mfing day long.
The kids will ask you for a snack about a thousand times a day when they’re more than capable of doing it themselves, but the worst thing?
The worst thing is when they just want some attention and you have to tell them “I’m working right now”.
That in itself isn’t a big deal.
Me working pays the bills and buys the things we need, but they don’t understand how I’m at home, in my pajamas, but I’m “at work”.
It’s not fluffing fair. It’s not fair to them that I seem available, but yet I’m not.
While this is hard on my children it’s also difficult for my husband.
Sure I could tell him to man up, but this is new territory for him also.
He’s normally off at his job while the kids were at the in-laws and I carried on with my work week.
He’s now at home with them.
Doing the homeschool thing and keeping up with everything that I normally do.
He hasn’t learned that when I’m working “pretend I’m not here” quite yet.
It’s been a year, but he still doesn’t get it. It’s a push-pull.
Should it be obvious that if I’m at my desk that I’m working?
Sure, it should be, but that desk is also where I look up recipes, order food and clothing, talk to friends, and where I begrudgingly pay the bills.
That desk and computer aren’t solely used for work.
What’s more - how do you limit yourself to not checking that email that came in after you “clocked out” it’ll only take a minute or two, but before you know it you clocked 5 hours of overtime from the couch.
I don’t know how to find this balancing in life, but I can tell you what has helped not only the adults but the children.
Try to stick to a work schedule, dress for work, put on your PJs when you’re off, and get all of the work apps and emails off of your phone!
Your family will recognize your work “uniform” at some point and it will help you with balancing in life.
Balancing in Life - Your Own Person
I remember when my oldest was may a month old and I said the oddest thing to my husband.
Honestly, it was so bizarre that I’m surprised that he stuck around.
“He’s a little person, a tiny human”
Yes, babies are tiny humans. That’s obvious. I mean, it should be, right?
I just had this random epiphany one day once the fog of my postpartum recovery and postpartum depression started to clear that this little boy, is indeed a person.
Covid or no Covid this is hard.
Balancing in life between you being you and your partner being themself, and balancing the children being their own person.
We’re more than mothers and fathers.
We’re more than daughters and sons.
We’re more than so and so’s life partner.
We have names!
They have names.
Sh*t I’m pretty sure we had arguments about their names!
Finding the correct balancing in life for all of the different roles we play is an art that we learn as we age, but we cannot forget that the tiny humans in our lives are struggling much more than us with this.
They see mom or dad and know that they’re their kid and that their name is so and so.
They see those. They live those, we have to teach them how to balance their own lives into adulthood.
They need to see us being our own persons as well.
Self-care isn’t selfish and it doesn’t need to be limited to adults.
Teach your children how to practice their own forms of self-care!
Even if it’s just a small hobby at this point.
Just as we need to balance our home-work life we have to balance our role-self life!
Balancing in Life - Strength, and Weaknesses
Our children will undoubtedly tell their children one day about the struggles of the early 2020s just as our grandparents and great parents talked about the great depression and wars fought during their childhood.
All of these things make us stronger in different ways - again just find the balancing in life that works for you.
Find your inner strength and weaknesses.
Help your children find theirs and really hone in on those to find the right flow! My oldest is truly great at being a leader.
If there is a chore flow that needs to happen or a series of tasks to be completed before we do something else I know I can count on him to help rally the troops aka his siblings.
My oldest daughter is a “mom in training” her words not mine.
I can without a doubt count on her help with the babies.
My middle child? He’s unpredictable, but I can count on him to be ready to try something new.
Does this sound manipulative?
Eh, Maybe, but I prefer to look at it is as developing their skills.
This is one of those things that I said I’d never do as a parent also.
The “I will not ask my kids to help raise my kids” Ha. I laugh at it now.
No, my kids aren’t raising their siblings, but they are HELPING.
They’re helping their parents from time to time and in that, are learning responsibility.
Okay, back to the adults part of this.
My husband is the patient one, but I’m the more understanding parent.
When I’m about to lose my absolute sh*t, he steps in as the voice of reason.
When one of them is upset or frustrated at something I’m the listening ear.
These seem to apply to our marriage as well- not just in the domestic side of our lives, but in the emotional relationship as well.
I would never ask him to be rational (okay I do, but I know it’s futile) when he gets excited or irritated by something.
At the same time, he (mostly) understands that I’m the hot-head and have zero patience for anything - even if its something positive. I want it now!!
Conclusion - How to Achieve Balancing In Life
Sometimes, I feel fully unqualified to write this surviving parenthood series of blogs.
Sure, I have a handful of kids and then some, but I don’t have all of the answers.
I have a far from perfect marriage.
I am far from a perfect parent.
I know, those don’t exist, but who am I to really give any sort of advice?
Well, I’m probably not, but if there’s one thing I have been working on personally is walking the middle path - or working on the balancing act that is life and parenting.
Hindsight is always 20/20.
You can try to find balancing in life until you’re blue in the face and it still might not happen.
All that we can really do in the end is try to make decisions with more thought behind them, give our children more grace (and our partners), and try to loosen the proverbial reigns.
Life is far from normal right now.
It’s near impossible to balance your life and their life in the most normal and privileged scenarios.
It’s okay to not have all of the answers.
So far - just even looking for the tiniest balance is all that matters and what makes a crappy day to a good day and vice versa.
Sometimes, all I really need is a hot cup of coffee and a soft, snuggly blanket to wash away all of the ill that day.
Sometimes, no matter how hard you’ve tried the balance the good with the bad, it just doesn’t happen.
If you’re in need of a good cuddle click to wrap yourself up with the softest blanket I’ve ever touched.