The Balance Act

The Author Alain de Botton said:

 “there is no such thing as work/life balance. Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life” .

Whether you find that re-assuring or not, when we talk about balance, we can get stressed and feel guilty just trying . What are we trying to balance? Is there a conflict in trying to achieve a balance between work, play and parenting? The Modern Family Index 2017 found that only 1 in 5 parents claim they have the balance right.

Achieving Balance is a hot topic right now, in the light of the headlines quoting how many of us are stressed. The emphasis is very much placed on achieving a balance between work, play and parenting, but by doing so, have we missed an opportunity here to integrate all these parts in what contributes to making us whole? Can we shift the emphasis on finding a balance between our doing and our being, that embraces all our parts , beginning with grounding ourselves to the authentic version of ourselves, without feeling guilty?

The dictionary definition of Balance is:

“a situation in which a person tries to give care and attention to two or more activities at the same time”.

Women are known as renowned multi-taskers, so shouldn’t this be easy-peasy then? Annabel Crabb, an Australian journalist, brilliantly summed up the predicament of the working Mother by writing:

“The obligation for working mothers is a very precise one. The feeling that one ought to work as if one did not have children while raising one’s children as if one didn’t have a job”.

Dr Libby Weaver has referred to exhaustion as a “status”, calling it” rushing parent syndrome”, a condition which she believes as a nutritional biochemist, is the health of many women, which as a result of feeling stressed for extended periods of time sparks  hormonal changes which lead to fatigue and weight gain. Not only do we get trapped in a busy schedule but so do our chlldren, leading to grumpiness and dis-connection.  Opportunities for family connection and relationship building get lost because we find it difficult to be fully present when we are present.

One of my favourite quotes by Confucious which is so relevant here is:

“Life is simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”

As a result, Are we role-modelling stress as a status to our children?

How do you find balance?

There are no simple answers to finding that elusive balance, we are all unique and capable of juggling more balls than another and our tolerance levels for a busy life vary. The resources to help us manage stress are abundant. Business Coaches will suggest working Smarter not harder, Life Coaches will complete The Wheel of Life tool with you, Wellbeing Coaches will work out a new fitness and nutrition plan or guide you through Mindfulness and Meditation practices. I can recommend some great people in these areas.  And me, as  a Parenting Coach will support you to investigate how you would like to make family life more joyful, and less stressful, helping you to devise a workable Family Plan and Vision.  Inspired and encouraged by that statement by Confucious, here is my trio of tips to help find a balance between doing and being, that will help you find a pathway to feeling more grounded and less stressed. For without grounding first, balance can’t be found.Those of you who practice yoga, as I do, know that unless a balance pose begins with firmly grounding your supporting leg , your body will wobble and you will fall out of the pose, and so too unless we take the first steps to feeling more grounded, our mind will wobble.

So here they are:

DDS…..Delete, Delegate and Simplify

Delete your negative, inner perfectionist critical voice and replace it with a kind, compassionate, loving voice, that accepts you are doing your best and that is enough. Guilt is a useless emotion and serves no positive purpose, yet we all carry it.  Why is our measuring stick never our own?

Meditation experts will know that there is no word for guilt in the Tibetan language. My guilt buster top tip today is, instead of saying……
I should, I shouldn’t, I ought, I oughtn’t, I must, I mustn’t replace with
I CHOOSE.  I choose my own measuring stick!

Starting with the premise that: No child who is loved unconditionally is wanting, we don’t need to over use the materialism card. What I mean is, children don’t need to be provided with the best of the best, they want and need the best of us.  Children are deliciously selfish in wanting us all the time and don’t want to share us, but instead of taking that as a huge compliment, we get worn down by it. When we start out on the Parenting journey, most of us probably have really high expectations of how life is going to be, but in reality not everything will be perfect or go to plan, We can’t always get things right, we learn as we go along and adapt accordingly by practising Patience and Gratitude as consciously as possible. There is no such thing as Perfect Parenting, being “good enough” is enough. By lowering our expectations of that perfect life that we think we see others having on Instagram, brings us less stress and more appreciation of when things are good. When you are struggling, ask yourself what am I doing well? What is going well in my family? By spending time reviewing and reflecting on what may be interfering with what is going well, it may be time to review the busy schedule, and delete some activities that don’t serve your family well in terms of sacrificing precious time together or downtime for you.

There is an idea that some people have that precious family time together must always be FUN. But that doesn’t serve us well either, sometimes and often it’s not, someone will have got out of bed the wrong side, so it’s good to acknowledge how everyone is feeling and delete the notion of always having to have fun and replace it with chill time.

A useful exercise is to complete a list of everything you have done in a week and reflect on whether it contributed to depletion or satisfaction. Thank goodness we aren’t passive beings and can make choices! But when we are stressed, our brains can’t reach choice mode. So go on delete something that depletes you! It is worth doing this exercise a few times a year, as just as the tide ebbs and flows, so does our energy, depending on what’s going on with the people around us.

Delete the idea that you have to work every hour God sends to achieve your Business goals. Draw a line on your working day, and prepare yourself for the transition at the end of the day to your Parenting role. Are you ready for the challenges at the end of the day that you may face as a parent?, Are you sufficiently fed and watered to sustain your energy for everything that is required of you? This allows you to be fully present when you are present and reaps so many benefits in terms of attachment, connection and childrens’ self esteem.

Make a list of everything that you do in a week and apply the following:

Is it necessary? Does it fulfill a need? Does it align with a value? Does it deplete you?

Having given these questions some thought, you may be able to ditch some activities or change some ways of doing things to create some more time.

If you get “stuck” here, try replacing the idea that you “can’t” change things by asking yourself….”what if I could”!

Delegate: You are merely human, not superhuman, neither are you a robot, or a need -fulfiller for everyone else.. Unfortunately there is no reward for martyrdom. To avoid developing “rushing parent syndrome” have a Family meeting and discuss how you can run your family as a team with shared ownership of your home. Developing a “Get ready for school” plan and a Chore Timetable takes the pressure off you and promotes your childrens’ personal responsibility . Discuss with your partner how you can share Parental duties and household duties. Encourage your teenager to make their own packed lunch and bring down their laundry. Even littlies can start doing simple chores. My youngest daughter loved sweeping floors when she was little.

Delegating means letting go of control and acceptance that the job will get done, but not necessarily upto your standards, therefore good communication here is essential.

Delegate time to listen to your gut, your inner wisdom, what feels right for your family  and what doesn’t.  There is strength in stillness.

Simplify: Your routine and busy schedule. Consider a restriction on the amount of extra -curricular activities each child can do, let them be their choice, not yours. Building passions, based on choice significantly contributes to mental wellbeing, together with building self- belief and confidence. Simplifying the family’s  busy schedule simplifies childhood too by allowing more time for play and creativity and thinking to encourage a balanced and eventually integrated mind.

Simplifying our expectations of ourselves and our children can be achieved by setting a Family Vision and discussing what your family values are. By focusing on the values that you consider to be the most important really helps in seeing your way through to what needs to be prioritised and enables you to let go of what isn’t important.

If you would like a session to brainstorm ways to ditch the guilt, create a Family Vision  please contact me.

What choices are you going to make today that help alleviate stress, overwhelm and then guilt?