My tender-hearted, sweet, funny three year old doesn’t sleep. I mean she DOES, but it’s an all night struggle that involves 3 of the 4 humans in our house and sometime the dog. My 7 month old sleeps a little better; typical for a kid her age who has been sleep-crutched for her entire life. Like many parents of young kids, I haven’t slept through the night in over 8 months except one blissful night.
I have an amazing husband. He’s funny and smart and hot and will absolutely hate this paragraph if he happens to read this. (Unlike me, he doesn’t dig public appreciation.) We have absolutely silly and incredibly deep conversations when we aren’t discussing schedules and poop and contractors and what to throw together for dinner.
I’m a daughter and a daughter-in-law to parents that live close enough to visit often. Their relationships with our girls is incredibly important to me and I genuinely like and love each of them.
I have so many friends whom I neglect. Getting together is hard when weeknights are wrapped up in 2 kids refusing sleep and the weekends are all about shoving as much quality time in with them as possible.
Plus two very busy businesses.
I know many of you have as much or more on your plate. If you don’t, I want you to revel in your expansiveness. Really appreciate it and do fun and restful things as much as possible.
For those of you juggling with me, let me be clear: I don’t have this figured out. When I struggle I use my very favorite defense mechanism, Intellectualizing. So, I’ve done some research and mushed it all up in my tired head and here’s what’s coming out: verb-seesaw-priorities-flexibility.
Just kidding. Let me break that down.
Balance is a Verb
We keep treating it like a noun. “Once I’ve found balance…” This isn’t a destination. It’s not an end point. We’ll never arrive and just be done with the struggle. We have to keep balancing all the time. As a yogi, it’s not like I could just stop balancing and still stay in a handstand. It takes ongoing work.
Balance is a SeeSaw
There’s a back and forth. Maybe balance isn’t something you strive for each day, but an average of what’s occurred over a longer period of time. Some days I spend more time with work, some days family. Very rarely with friends. It’s easy for me to feel guilty no matter what. But if I think of it as averaged over a week and weigh it against my expectations of my definition of balance, I’m more apt to appreciate my choices.
Balance is Priorities
We have these ascribed expectations of what our priorities are supposed to be. Get real with yourself about what you value. One of the questions I ask in the first of the Abundance Practice-Building Groups is “What are your top 3 priorities in life, whether or not your current time or attention reflect that.” Answer that for yourself. I find that 90% of the time the responses come with the caveat that they don’t feel their life reflects what they hold most dear. You will always feel unbalanced if you don’t make it a point to spend your time on the things that matter most. Let your priorities be your priorities.
Balance is Flexibility
What works this month might not next. Much like parenting, as soon as you’ve figured something out it’s likely to change. That’s ok. Maybe the point isn’t to find “the answer” but to flow. We don’t wanna stagnate, right? That requires becoming very well acquainted with your own needs at any given moment. Yes, I said YOUR needs. Remember those?
Here’s an example of striving for balance using all these things. I mentioned it in the Abundance Practice Builders Facebook Group (hop in!). In the haze of trying to figure out why our 3 year old won’t sleep, we realized that much of our weekday time with her is rushed and frustrating. Getting out the door, having the dreaded fight over the need to wear pants, the please-please-please-walk-a-little-faster-to-the-car-yes-that-flower-is-pretty. Then the craziness of the getting home and the dinner-bath-bedtime routine.
Our daughter needs downtime with us. She needs eye contact and playtime and non-rushed snuggles. I’m self-employed. I can do what I want. So two days a week I’m leaving work early and we’re having time just the two of us. Yes, I have plenty I “should” be doing. Yes, I feel perpetually behind at work. But my kid is my priority and I won’t get a second chance to parent her at this age. I’m practicing flexibility. I have no idea if this is going to help her sleep at night, but more time together won’t hurt. I’m actively seeking balance.
While I’m present at the library or playground or even the grocery store chatting with her about how much parsnips and carrots look alike, I’m not thinking about work or my to do list. That to do list will be there until the day I die. I’m learning I can’t wait until that list is done to live my life because I’d be a lot older and a lot more tired before I got around to having any fun.
In January I declared a cease & desist with hustling. 10 months in I think I’m starting to get it.
How are you balancing like a verb, like a see saw, with your priorities and with flexibility? Let us know in the comments!
Allison Puryear is an LCSW with a nearly diagnosable obsession with business development. She has started practices in three different states and wants you to know that building a private practice is shockingly doable when you have a plan and support. After retiring her individual consultation services, she opened the Abundance Party, where you can get practice-building help for the cost of a copay. You can download a free private practice checklist to make sure you have your ducks in a row, get weekly private practice tips, listen to the podcast, hop into the free Facebook Group. Allison is all about helping you gain the confidence and tools you need to succeed.