I was asked to cover this topic in the recent feedback survey. I think it is a great question to ask, and it is one I’ve ruthlessly searched to the ends of Pinterest to answer, ‘how to find balance in motherhood’
In this episode, I will share about the extra demands in my life right now and the ways I am finding balance in a very busy season of life of motherhood, school and work.
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Topics covered in this episode:
- What we think ‘balance’ means culturally for women and moms
- What I have decided to make it mean for myself
- The power of prioritizing and all the reasons it is hard to prioritize
- What I am saying yes to this year
- What I am saying no to this year
- How I plan out my weeks
- How I protect my priorities and the reality that it doesn’t always look or feel lovely
- Adjusting things as I go versus having an all or nothing mindset
- Owning it and not feeling like a victim of my life
Links you might like:
What I Learned While Searching for Balance in Motherhood
Opportunity costs, talk about this a bit more in How to Define Simple Living for Your Family
How To Plan Your Day As a Mom (3 Simple Steps)
133. 4 simple habits that make my momlife better
137. Back to school routines that we have in our house
144. How to lighten the mental load of DECISION FATIGUE
150. A new approach to habit change: routine and habit refinement
69. Will a simpler home bring me peace?
Working through a bad mood with one simple question
Make sure to share your thoughts with us in the Facebook group, or on Instagram!
Full Transcript (unedited)
Hey friends, welcome to the simple minimalist podcast, I am sure that many of you know me as your nerdy girlfriend. I am the mom of three kids. And I am passionate about us simplifying our home, our hearts our lives. So we can clear those distractions, clear the clutter and show up for what really matters to us in the lives that with intention with purpose, you may have noticed my tagline change to intentional living and parenting. And I think that really gets to the heart of where we’re all headed towards where we’re all wanting to work towards doing things in our day that help us feel intentional towards that bigger picture of what we want in our life.
On today’s episode, I’m talking about a question that was brought up in the reader feedback survey. And it came up a few times and a few different ways. And that’s the general question of how do I balance it? Also, it was a question directed towards me. And I’m going to talk about how I have found a balance in this really busy year of life, hoping that what I share with you will help you you find balance in whatever busy season you find yourself in.
I know I’ve spent a lot of years, especially in the early years when I had all of my kids at home, the toddlers and the baby. And I remember searching like balancing motherhood balancing kids balancing babies, toddlers, I was really drawn into this notion that if I could just find the right steps, then this would all be easy, that it would all flow effortlessly, that things would feel balanced. And I think a lot of us crave that, that balance that sense of balance.
But maybe we don’t really sit and think about what balance is like, what do we think it is? I think on one hand, we kind of look around and look at all the things everyone’s doing, for their health, for their parenting, for their jobs, for their personal development. And we think that’s just a general list of all the things I need to be doing to be a healthy human. And I should just be doing the all of those things and feel that sense of inner peace that’s going to come from finding balance.
In my experience of going through the years of, you know, raising small children, having them at home, trying to figure out what I wanted to be doing with my life with my career, what that was going to look like trying different things. I have learned that balance comes down to prioritizing and focusing on what’s important right now, while also not being a total Basket Case
and voted in preparing for this specific episode. Just last night, I asked Connor, I’m going to talk about this subject. What do you think? Do you think I found balances here? He’s like, Oh, yeah. And and I said, What do you think it would look like if I wasn’t finding balance in this really busy year of life. And he said, if you didn’t have balance, you’d kind of be stressed out, you’d be snapping, which was an interesting response. I think he it wasn’t like oh, things wouldn’t get done. It was that you would feel uncomfortable, you would feel physically stressed out, you would feel rushed all the time.
And I think this is really important to know, because we could be doing all of the things that are quote unquote, balancing all of the things and still be really stressed. Or we could be just doing a few things and still be really stressed. So maybe balance is an approach we take to it. Maybe balance is how we handle the stress of our life. I don’t know.
So I said, this has been a really busy year. Back in August, I took on a part time job. With environmental health, I used to be a health inspector. And I also started going to school to become a counselor. Also, my kids joined hockey for the first time. So we had two kids in hockey and one in the play. And so it was a really busy season. I laugh at myself for all of the years and I told myself I was busy. And now I’m legit busy. There’s a lot of things that are going on a lot of demands on my time and energy. And when I started out this year when I committed to these things, I think I shared this on the podcast last fall, but I really decided I want to own this. This is what’s going to make this year work. I was writing out different lists for myself, what I wanted to do what I wanted to pay attention to I’m going to talk about that more what my priorities are going to be. And one thing that I kept coming back to is I need to own this, I cannot be a victim of my life, a victim of my choices. I want to be all in I don’t want to go through this year with a lot of stress and emotional struggle.
Which is funny, because I have had a lot of stress and emotional struggle this year, just not for the reasons I thought it was going to be. So it does help to have a good counselor walking you through this along the way.
But back to balance, like balance is something we crave. We wonder how to get it. We feel like we’re doing it wrong if we don’t have it. And I think a problem is one we’re not really clear on what balance means to us. And to me, I’ve decided that balance doesn’t mean doing all of the things. Balance means probably Advertising the important things. And so that leads us to the second issue of if we struggle with prioritizing, we’re going to struggle with finding balance.
Priorities are tough right in this world have so many options, so many choices, so many good ideas, it’s overwhelming to filter out what our priorities are going to be. Because there are endless things we can spend our time on or energy on, we can devote our space to our money to an I consider these our life resources, our time, our energy, our space, our money.
These are our life resources. And when we can manage these resources, well, we feel like life is manageable. If you want to dig into that concept, I’ve included a link in the show notes to the simplify your life series. That’s an audio series. And it also includes worksheets, so check that out.
So we’ve got this day available to us lots of good options, lots of things we can be doing with it. Lots of things we feel like we should be doing with it. But we struggle to prioritize right. And from having conversations with many women over the years, I think there’s a couple of reasons why prioritizing is hard. I think on one, we might not be clear about what’s important to us right now, we don’t know our personal values. And we’ve been living by other people’s values. We don’t know what we want our big picture direction where we’re going. We don’t know our vision. Another reason is we let the urgent things take over. So the Eisenhower matrix, it lays out the important things and the urgent things versus non important non urgent and creates a quadrant. And we spend a lot of our day focusing on the urgent things. But we should be spending more time focusing on the important things. And then maybe we can prioritize, but we struggle with setting boundaries to protect those priorities. I feel that struggle this year, for sure, it’s hard to say no to things. Another reason might be that we think we just shouldn’t be strong enough to do at all. We’ve kind of bought into the notion that this is how we do life, we do all of the things we do them well. And maybe there’s even another idea that we have about ourselves that I need to be stronger, I need to be better. And we’re kind of living from this place of constantly chasing that, that can be exhausting, that can be defeating.
But when we step into really owning our priorities, and planning for them and protecting them, then we can show up well for that. And I don’t want to give you the illusion that it it looks great, or it feels great all the time. Because I do feel like I’ve missed out on some things this year, because I’ve had to spend a weekend at home doing school, I’ve had to spend a lot of hours in the hockey rink. I’ve had to prioritize doing work over social things that I wanted to do or volunteering. And they’re all good things, right? These are all good things that have been my priority.
But there is an opportunity cost to everything we do. When I say yes to one thing, I say no to another, and vice versa. So I just want to give you an idea of how I laid out my priorities this year. I hope this isn’t boring to you about how I plan my life and set up my days, maybe this is going to help you That’s my hope.
I don’t know, let’s see what happens when a mom of three tells you about her daily life priorities. We’ll see. So back in August, when I was kind of going through this, I wrote down my top priorities.
Of course, the first one is family time, right? I mean, my kids come home from school, they’re here on the weekends, when they are at school, I have a lot more freedom to focus on what I need to focus on. It was tough this year having the kids out of school when our town flooded, and then having them out over Christmas break. Like it does get tough, right? When that plan changes,
school, obviously, another big priority of mine, I’m on a deadline. So when I’m constantly on a deadline, I do feel like I’m looking for pockets of time to read the textbooks, watch the videos, it’s always in the back of my mind, I do have to block out chunks in my day or in my week that I know I’m gonna get school done. And really try to do as much as I can before that deadline comes. Because I don’t want to live with the pressure. And I sometimes get headaches if things are approaching a deadline. And I have to get so much done. I’m feeling that emotional weight that rush that kind of drive and it just like it gives me a headache. So I do have to be really proactive with managing myself throughout each course to make sure I’m not putting myself in that situation.
And of course my jobs are a priority. I mean, for one I work for somebody now. So that’s a non negotiable. And then the other one I’m I’m here for myself, and I do allow myself some more flexibility with this. But it has been hard I haven’t been able to do what I have been doing how my job has traditionally looked over the years with weekly episodes, chats in the Facebook group regular on Instagram, what my focus is now are my coaching clients and that simple Saturdays newsletter that comes out every two weeks. That’s really my number one priority that always has to get done. And the rest I just do as I can which has been really sad for me because I do miss is showing up to this podcast regularly.
And I look at my priorities, family schoolwork. And I think those are generally priorities most of us have, right we these are the things we focus on, they take up the bulk of our time. And, and truly within each of those categories, we still have to rank our priorities like with work, some of these things, I’m gonna have time for not everything. And my family life, there are countless things that I could be doing more of as a mom. But I need to pick the things that are important to me in this season, right now and show up for that. My other priorities in life,
I have two other ones that I’m making a priority. Health, sleep is a priority for me, I’m tucking myself in early to bed whenever I can. Moving is a priority for me, I’m challenging myself to move and exercise regularly in my week. And my best friends, seeing them, messaging them, phoning them, that is also a priority for me. So those are priorities.
But I also have to get clear on what’s not a priority, I need a spectrum, I need to know what the rankings are. So I know when I’m making a decision, what’s going to be coming first above other things, some things I am not prioritizing social media, which is it feels sad, I feel like I just love that connection. I love touching base with people. I love being part of those communities. But it’s also whenever you run an online platform, you feel that constant need to be on social media to be connected to post to share. And if you don’t, people won’t follow you forget you blah, blah, blah, blah. Like it’s easy to buy into that fear that scarcity mindset. So it is challenging on one hand to let go of that mindset. And it’s also challenging for me to say no, I don’t have time for this. I need to spend less time on social media, of course, I find peace in being on social media last as much as I miss it and miss that connection. There is a sense of peace that comes along from not being bombarded by all the messaging out there by what everyone else is doing and the montage of what I think my life needs to look like now. And then I start wondering, do I need to buy hat? Do I need to renovate my house? Do I need to drink Rosae? Like is that a thing, I just stopped living my life and start wondering if I need to live portions of other people’s lives. So as much as I miss it, sometimes it’s a healthy thing to get that distance.
Not a priority for me is staying up late. I used to do that most nights now I try to make it special. It’s a Friday night thing,
letting go of the weekly podcast that’s been tough for me. And it’s been really, my life has forced me to let go of some of it when my life has been demanding, especially over the winter. I just couldn’t make it work. And I almost needed to be forced into that situation to let go of the weekly podcast in order to give myself permission to show up here bi weekly.
Another thing that’s low on the priority list for me right now are other people’s expectations of me, because there’s really so much opportunity for me to be involved in my community for me to be volunteering. And I love it when people ask me to be included in things. But I have had to say no a lot. I’m helping where I can, I’m helping where it works in with my schedule. But I know it’s not as often as it was in the past. And I also take comfort in knowing it won’t always be like this either. In the future, I will be able to just show up more.
Another thing that has been low on the priority list for me and and it makes me sad, because it’s not something that I wanted to put low on the priority list is being social. So there, there’s kind of like this mental list of women I have in my mind and in my life that I want to see more often that I want to spend more time with, there are relationships that I want to show up for and spend more time and investing in. And there just hasn’t been the time, the energy, the space for that right now, I am focused on a few of my besties. And hopefully in the future, there will be more time for that. It’s just one more thing that’s been lower on the priority list. And it kind of makes me sad, it’s slower.
But I think it’s worth acknowledging right, acknowledging these things that are hard. And really coming back to what are my priorities right now, because I talked about priorities a lot more in the life on purpose roadmap, and I really believe you, you can chase success by trying to do it all. Or you can be successful by choosing your top priority and focusing on that one thing at a time. Prioritizing, it allows you to get more focused, not bogged down with distractions, even if they’re good distractions. And you will have more time and energy for that one thing than you do when you spread yourself thin over all of the things.
So setting priorities, really the first step and then making decisions every day that are in line with these priorities. And to me, there’s one big thing that is making this work for me to plan my time and protect it. And that is the Google Calendar. When I read this question, how do you balance it all? I think I even whispered to myself, the Google Calendar. And when I asked Connor last night How do you think I balanced at all he’s like the Google calendar like that’s we need it. We need Need to know what’s happening, we need to know what we’re showing up for. And for us to share the Google Calendar, we know what one another is doing. And that’s just really, really helpful. I have my brother in law to thank for the Google Calendar, he showed us the Google cow things. Armando, you brought that into my life.
My big pitch about the Google Calendar is you can share it, you can share it with your partner, you can color code things, but what I love most about it is on your phone. It is just so nice to look at that Apple calendar, not helpful, like what is that numbers and dots? What are we even looking at, I need to see the color coded I need to see the plans. And guys, I’m nerding out big time I am color coding different topics like my work days, my school days, the kids hockey, like it’s all color coded, oh, I just love it so much. Do yourself a favor, get the girl calendar. But it’s not just about the app, but just a calendar in general. So parenthood made me become someone who needs to plan things and make lists. And I’ve been doing that for many years. But this Google Calendar, it’s just like always with me, I can look in advance. Because I am becoming someone who needs to make plans, weeks or months ahead of time. It feels tragic on one hand, but it also feels so unnecessary. I have a friend who’s like, Hey, can we get together for coffee this week. And I’m not a spontaneous person. I like you know, three to four business days heads up. But we’re talking, you know, I need five weeks now I need five weeks notice we can schedule it in. And I can protect that time. Because between my job hours, my coaching calls, my schoolwork, the kids stuff, I am just planning out chunks of time, like I never have before. And the Google Calendar is where I do all of that.
So I put everything in the Google Calendar, I transfer it to the calendar on the fridge, the calendar, my office, transferred into my weekly calendar, I know it sounds like a lot of work, but it’s also just locking it in my brain. And I also use that weekly planner to have that agenda, and then any other to do lists that I might have.
The other thing that’s making my life work, and I wasn’t really sure if I was going to include this because it’s a weird thing to bring up in our current culture. And that’s how supportive my spouse is, because I want to tell you about all of the things he’s doing for me. And then on the other hand, I think about this Instagram account I follow called the man who has it all. And I’m going to link that in the show notes. What that account is about is a taking statements that we say about women or motherhood or women in positions of power. And it does a role reversal by talking about that same issue, and making it about the man instead of about the woman. So it really makes me think about this double standard about how I as a wife would help my spouse if he was going to school, I’d be you know, be managing the kids and the groceries and the cooking and the cleaning. So we shouldn’t consider it exceptional. When it’s reversed. When he does, it shouldn’t be an exceptional circumstance to have a supportive spouse regardless of their gender. And I think that’s the culture that we have lived in. And I think we’re shifting into a new culture.
So I acknowledge all of the weirdness in his conversation with the culture we have right now. And still just coming back to the reality that his support is really what is helping me make my life work and make me feel like I have some kind of balance. As always finding balance and prioritizing all of these things.
It helps to have systems and routines in place that protect it and make it easier. I’ve talked about this in many episodes, I’ll try to link a few. But meal planning, I mean, I’m eating the same things for breakfast and lunches, so I don’t have to think about it. We’ve got a good morning routine with the kids. If you look at my calendar each week is pretty similar. So I know what’s expected of me. I know how to pace myself throughout the week. I think that’s really important to have kind of a routine that you’re following generally have a weekly rhythm.
And then one more thing that’s making this all work is paying attention and making changes, which you’re like, yeah, yeah, people do that. That’s something we have to do. But it really is a shift of your thinking, to view how you’re living your life from my life has to look like this. This is the way it’s going to work to everything is trial and error. Because I need to constantly reevaluate what’s working right now and make changes that are going to make it work better. So it is like pulling yourself out of your life for a hot minute. Taking a chance to become aware and assess, which is something I don’t think we do often. Really ask yourself what’s working well, what’s not working? What changes can I make so I have made changes over this year like dropping a half of a day of my environmental health job. I was working two days. Now it’s one and a half when I noticed that I’m feeling really uncomfortable and stressed out I need to pay attention to how I’m feeding myself and get back on track with just you know making food for myself. So I feel nourished.
I need to pay attention to my relationship with my kids who do I need to be investing a bit more and who do I need to take out and spend some time with? I don’t want to view how I’m doing things as all or nothing if I don’t do well, one week if things don’t feel great I cannot write it off, I need to look at what I’m doing. And try to make changes that might help me. There’s an episode I did on habit refinement that I’m going to link in the show notes, I find that a really helpful exercise to go through super, super simple. And I always come back with some notes on how I can just adjust things in my day.
So all of this in a nutshell, how I am finding balance this year, setting what’s a priority and what’s not planning it out, using the Google Calendar, protecting it setting boundaries, knowing what to say yes to what to say no to and allowing yourself those emotions of the things that are hard, the things that are hard, and all of this reflecting, stopping and reflecting how’s it going, what’s working, what’s not making changes. And ultimately, I think it comes down to owning it. So I want to own my decisions. I want to own my attitude. I’m going to get support for things that feel tough, because I don’t want to deny my emotional experience and all of this, I want to work with it. But I also want to manage it well. So I feel like I showed up for this as well that I enjoyed my life still, even though it felt really busy. I mean, after all, what is all of this for what are all the plans for and the priorities and the scheduling and the changes we want to make and the home we want to have and the life we want to have? What is all of this for if we don’t show up well for it in the end and own it and make the best of it and try to enjoy it. That’s what I think is really important less about what’s happening, and more about how you’re showing up for it.
That’s my encouragement to you this week. I hope it helps. I hope it helps if you feel like you’re in a season that needs more balance. I hope this has been helpful for you. If you find that you have questions about it or some takeaways, please stop by and share those in the Facebook group or tag me on Instagram at simple on purpose.ca. And I also hope that you will take a minute at the end of this to leave a rating and review in your podcast player.
Those are much appreciated. You can find all of the show notes for this episode on simple on purpose.ca. Click listen. You’ll find all the episodes all of the show notes and transcripts at the end of each episode. Alright friends have a great week.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai