Often, I’m asked how I manage to “do it all,” and the question makes me laugh. A lot of time, I’m hanging on by a thread, just barely eking out what I’ve committed to every day. Young kids, a work-tripping husband, a laundry pile that rivals Mt. Vesuvius, a house that seems to vomit crumbs and cat hair every other minute, and a solopreneur photography business certainly keep me busy. (Solopreneur is a fancy word for “I get to do it all there too.”) This SuperMom business is not for the weak at heart.
But you know what? I am tired. Life is too short, and I want to have a little fun, darn it! My kids are 6 and almost-4, and they will never be this little again. I want to find some balance in this crazy life, and take more time to drink it all in. I am done with being slave to the almighty to-do list.
So, I am starting up SuperMoms Anonymous, and you’re invited to our monthly meetings, right here at Vend Raleigh. I’ll post tips for achieving better work/life balance every month, from simple ideas for meal planning to heftier stuff like really defining priorities. I’m no expert when it comes to this balance stuff, but I love to learn and share new things. Please share your ideas as well; we can all learn from one another!
Today we kick off with some of my favorite overall ideas for taking back your life from the jaws of overwhelm.
First, get real. A lot of the time, what we define as “busy” is not actually productive. Our mad-dash multi-tasking backfires on us, because when we’re spread too thin, there’s no forward motion. In our efforts to do everything, we actually achieve little to nothing.
Because we like to think we can do it all, taking a moment to look realistically at what we actually accomplish – and do well – can be an eye-opener.
Take care of yourself first. I challenge you to not only put yourself on the to-do list, but put yourself way up there at the top. We know we need to take better care of ourselves emotionally, spiritually, and physically, but somehow our needs always end up coming in last…maybe never.
There’s a reason flight attendants drill into us to put our own oxygen masks on first in the event of an emergency. We are no good to anyone else if we’re dead! The same is true in our daily lives.
Carve out a little time for you, every single day. (And peeing by yourself doesn’t count.)
Declutter ruthlessly. William Morris wrote, “have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” Taking the time to edit our homes down to the bare essentials and the things we truly love saves not only the energy spent cleaning and maintaining all that stuff, but also the time wasted in looking for lost items amongst the clutter.
Go one step further and organize what remains after you’ve decluttered; make sure everything has a home. Yes, this takes time, but is so very worth it!
Add these two words to your vocabulary: NO and HELP As SuperMoms, we want to do it all and have it all and be it all. We tend to add tasks to our plate without considering that our plate cannot grow to accommodate.
Learn to say no gracefully to things that just don’t fit right now. And don’t be shy about asking for help. Kids can do chores, and you can negotiate household tasks with your husband. Outside of the house, most people are happy to help when asked. Hiring help, whether in your business or at home, can be a total sanity saver.
Balance will look a little different for everybody, depending on your stage in life, your priorities, and your values. For me, balance means having time for meaningful, creative work while nurturing my beautiful family, all without feeling stressed and overwhelmed. So I’m resolving to not just cross items off my to-do list every day, but to have days without a list at all.
This poignant quote by one of my favorite writers, Anna Quindlen, always brings it right back into focus for me:
“When in doubt, choose the kids. There will be plenty of time later to choose work…”
Recovering SuperMom Christy Johnson is known for adding already-done items to her to-do list just for the satisfaction of crossing them off. When she isn’t scheduling photography sessions, driving car pool, cheering on soccer, marketing her business, grocery shopping, growing a garden, volunteering in class, cooking dinner, doing laundry, blogging, or accomplishing other endless tasks, she’s asleep. Shhh!
Christy blogs her photography work and personal stories at Be True Image Design. Email her with your own struggles and triumphs with work/life balance at firstname.lastname@example.org.