I have spent my entire 41 years trying to achieve a perfect balance in my life. That never ending quest is the entire reason I named this blog Overstuffed, in fact. I started the whole "full plate" thing long before I was ever a mom, simply because there was just so much that I wanted to do and I didn't see why I shouldn't do it.
I wondered why I could never find balance!
Of course it's tricky to find balance when you are overscheduled and completely stretched thin. I don't know how a person is supposed to do that when you are running from one task to the next and you barely have time to breathe, much less stand in the middle of the teeter totter and balance yourself!
The lack of balance has only gotten worse since I had kids.
I'm spending my days trying to juggle things like my job, the finances, quality kid time, doctor appointments, lessons, school activities, my church calling, house cleaning, home repairs, sleep, homework, healthy eating, exercise, my marriage, a social life, and this blog. Oh, and the dog needs a grooming sometime, too. Something is always falling through the cracks every day, making me feel like I'm not balanced enough—making me feel like I'm failing at life.
What is balance, anyway?
Balance, to me, means that I'm magically spending the perfect amount of time on each task. It means that all the things get done each day because somehow the perfect amount of time all adds up to a tidy 24 hours.
But we all know that never happens. Ever. Never, never, never, ever. Never.
It may all look great on paper. But we forget about the travel time or the inevitable interruptions. We don't factor in how hard it was to wake up the kids this morning or our own grouchiness—grouchiness that is surely caused by a lack of the ever elusive balance in our lives. We don't remember that just answering email can sometimes be a full time job!
Sure, I have a family calendar and a planner and they help me to stay sane. (Well, maybe not totally sane, but at least mostly on top of things.) But this magical balance thing? I can't think of one day where I've gotten my entire to-do list done, unless I didn't actually make one that day. I don't think there is a single day on which I have actually felt balanced in my whole life—something has always fallen off the list.
I may not have felt balanced, but I have felt productive.
I have often felt good about what I've accomplished in a day, though. I would even go so far as to say I've been absolutely thrilled at how my day has gone on occasion. I've been happy, and I've felt like I've done the things on my list that mattered the very most, whatever they were that day.
And that's the key! Balance isn't a true principle, but prioritizing is.
Some days the priority is 100% my children. Some days it has to be work. Other days my biggest goal is to get the laundry done, or the bathroom cleaned, or just to get out of bed. At certain times in my life that priority has had to be my own rest and self-care. At other times, all of my energy has been spent taking care of others who need me.
The key to "balance" is simply doing what matters most and fitting in the rest where you can.
Look at your to-do list and pick the one thing that will be most beneficial and help you to feel the most peace when it is finished. It just depends on where you are in your life and in your schedule. On the first of the month, my biggest priority is to get the bills paid and scheduled. Since it's the middle of the month, that isn't a priority right now, but preparing for an upcoming vacation is a current priority.
Spending time with my kids is always a priority that I am learning to choose no matter what else is on the list. But sometimes I have to let them wait a bit because something else is more pressing—usually because it has a time deadline.
So, next time you're stressing out because you just can't find any balance in your life, stop. Look at your list and do the most important things. Everything else can wait, and maybe you'll find you don't even need some of them in your life after a while.
To see all the posts in this series, click here: 31 Days to a Happier Home
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