On finding balance

Like a good girl, I pulled myself out of bed on this Saturday morning, over an hour before I knew the rest of the crew would be up. In spite of my creaky body and eyes that required prying open (after staying up later than usual last night to hang with the hubby), I went downstairs before 6AM to get a jumpstart on some weekend cleaning. As I looked around our kitchen and living room, I wasn’t really sure where to begin. And, quite honestly, there were a hundred other things I would rather have been doing with my time (like sleeping in). Still, I spent the next hour or so slowly deconstructing the tower of toys, books, and mail under which we once ate dinner. Though I hadn’t seen its wooden surface in weeks, I knew the kitchen table had to be under there somewhere…and it was my mission to uncover it before breakfast.

Between ripping up credit card offers, tiptoeing up the stairs with armfuls of toys and books, and leafing through coupons and mailers, I was a little upset that my husband and I had let the house get to this point. I mean it’s not filthy or unlivable. However, it’s one of those things that if we kept at it throughout the week, we wouldn’t have to spend our whole weekend chipping away at it. But, then, I reviewed in my head the kind of workweeks we’ve had lately and how cleaning on weekdays would mean sacrificing some of the things that are most important to us, like going to the gym, taking the kids to the park, or getting at least 6 hours of sleep. Once again, my brain returned to the topic of balance and how to figure out how to best spend my time.

A few of my first blog posts were on this topic. At the time, I wondered if finding the ideal ways to spend my time, one’s time, could be distilled down to a simple equation that involved identifying:

1. Our values

2. Goals that align with these values

3. Activities that bring us closer to achieving these goals

And then, thinking about:

4. The amount of free time necessary to devote to each of these activities

5. Activities that we currently do in our free time that don’t align with our values or goals

6. When free time exists in our schedules (maybe more than we thought if we subtract #5?)

When I attempted to work through that equation, I abandoned it when things got sticky, somewhere around #5. I promised more than one of you that I would return to these ideas about balance and prioritizing someday soon. Well, today is the day that I will at least stick one foot back through the door. Here are my newly evolved (?) thoughts on the topic:

  • I think it’s absolutely, unquestionably essential for all moms (people really) to take some of their precious time, no matter how limited, to think about their values and priorities: about what’s important to them, what’s worth spending their time doing. Because if we don’t take a moment to ask ourselves these questions, then the little time we have each day will be filled with whatever serendipity brings. While spontaneity and going with the flow can be a good thing sometimes, spending our days riding with the tide may leave us feeling unsatisfied. To make the most of our days, we must make a conscious effort to prioritize our time.
  • The process to finding balance is not a one-shot deal—it’s a continual journey. It’s one that requires us to revisit our ever-changing values, goals, choices, and commitments, and to ask ourselves again and again if we’re happy with how we are living our lives and spending our time.

That’s all for today because my Saturday routines are screaming at me, and my son’s nap will be ending any minute. I promise more to come on the topic. In the meantime, happy weekend!

 

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Posted on July 16, 2011, in The Balancing Act and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I really enjoyed this post. It’s nice to know there is someone out there that thinks like me (in equations and analysis). Can’t wait to see what you come up with.

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