By Melanie Martz, M.A. | June 12, 2018
Balance used to be attempting to do the crow’s pose in my weekly yoga class or making a single trip into the house with five too many grocery bags while closing the trunk with my foot. In the last six months, balance has taken on a whole new meaning.
In January, I started an online Master’s program to supplement the bachelor and master degrees I already hold.
In March, my husband and I had our first child.
In June, I returned to work full time.
Baby. Work. School. Will I have time for anything (let alone sleep)?
It seems that we are all juggling multiple things at one time whether its kids, parents, relationships, multiple jobs, school, or other responsibilities and hobbies.
What comes to mind when I see my planner and to-do lists is how can I give 100% to all of this? I want to be a great mom and wife, I want to perform well in my graduate courses, I want to be a present and hard-working employee, as well as, enjoy life with friends and family. The first thing that puts me out of balance is putting all this pressure on myself to “be the best.”
Revise expectations of self, be honest, and prioritize.
When change happens quickly, like adding a new small human to the home and returning to work, one has to give himself or herself a break and the chance to rebalance. When I returned to work with a nine week old son at home, I had to revisit expectations. I prioritized work tasks with my boss and was honest about my capabilities. While I worked out this new working mom identity, I had to be honest with myself that I was going to be sleepy during the day and may be not as productive as I was pre-baby—and that is okay.
Learn to say “no” or “how about next time?”
For me, this is much easier typed than done—especially when many people want to meet the new baby (and I want to show him off!); however, this is a suggestion from the Mayo Clinic on how to maintain a better work-life balance. Once I sketched out my priorities, I knew how much time I needed to dedicate to my online courses and the expectations for me during the work day. My free time was filled with visitors and catching up with friends and family. I discovered that “free time” does not have to be “available time.”
Ask for help.
One doesn’t have to have a newborn to ask for help. One doesn’t have to be juggling fourteen things to ask for help. Family and friends who care for a person want him or her to feel balanced because then he or she is more present. Help can be talking through the day with a friend or making a game plan for completing task with an accountability partner; building a strong support system is important to finding balance. I slowly realized that asking for help is a two way street; my friends and family are there for me now when I need it, and I will help them when they need it.
Still do what you love, reserve time for it, but be ready for the things you love to change.
I won’t be able to binge Netflix; I won’t be able to curl up with a new novel for a whole evening; I won’t be able go out to dinner and then drinks with friends—but instead of focusing on the idea of losing these things, I focus on how to be creative in how to still enjoy these things. They may be abbreviated or overlapped with other things. Instead of being able to read a popular novel, I may listen to the audio book while commuting or washing dishes. Instead of five episodes of a show, I may only be able to enjoy one while rocking the baby back to sleep. I still love Netflix, reading, and socializing, but I have found that because I am passionate about this degree program, I don’t miss those things when I am studying or completing projects for my courses.
Life is all about balance and when new things are added to the mix, one needs to allow time to acclimate to the new balance. A few springboards to consider:
- Revise expectations of self, be honest, and prioritize.
- Learn to say “no” or “how about next time?”
- Ask for help.
- Still do what you love, reserve time for it, but be ready for the things you love to change.
Just as when in a crow’s pose, keeping balance requires constant monitoring and readjustment. I know as I continue to balance being a new mom, working full time, and completing a graduate degree, I will need to make adjustments and find a new center as my new balance evolves.