Is Balance Possible?

I’ve been thinking about balance lately. I’m going to be talking about balance at the next meeting of the Vancouver Attachment Parenting International group this Saturday. And so I’ve been clarifying my thoughts on what balance is, how you seek it, and how you know if you’ve found it.

I’ve heard the sentiment that balance isn’t possible, especially for a mother of young children. I understand why someone would say that. There is always something that needs our attention, there is never enough time or emotional energy, and just when we think we’ve got things figured out, they change. When you have kids, you’re subject to a constant stream of curve balls. I often feel that I’m spending my days running to catch up, and never quite getting there.

But. But. I don’t think this means that we should just throw our hands up in the air and give up on any idea of balance. Although I do think we should have a better word than balance. Balance has become a little too loaded, a little too cliché. Perhaps equilibrium would be better. Or even manageability. I am seeking manageability. That sounds like something I could almost find!

Whatever you call it, I think that there are three things you need to achieve balance / equilibrium / manageability:

  • Timing. There are certain times when your life is going to be out of balance. When you have a newborn. When your partner experiences a serious health concern. When you move halfway across the country. When you start a new business. You’ll find it again, but when you’re in the midst of a big life change, you can cut yourself some slack if your life is unmanageable, knowing that it won’t last forever.
  • Priorities. When you have little kids, you don’t have much (or maybe even any) free time. There are lots of things constantly clamouring for your attention. So knowing what matters most to you is key when you’re seeking equilibrium. It helps you to decide how to use your very precious resources, so that you can live with intention and do the things that matter most to you, whether that’s taking your kids to the park, writing your novel or just taking a shower.
  • Support. No one can do it all, and certainly not all at once. Finding a supportive community can be a big help to anyone, but I feel it’s especially true when you have little kids. That community can come in the form of your partner, your family, your friends, your neighbours, or even the people you hire to help you out. Whether you need someone else to hold the baby for 10 minutes so that you can shower, or you just need a friendly ear, having people in your corner makes life much more manageable.

I certainly don’t have all the answers. Like everyone else, I have days when I can’t even find the time to eat a hot meal. But I persist in my quest for manageability. Because this is my life that I’m living here, and I deserve to play a part in it.

What about you? What is your definition of balance? And do you like the word balance? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

PS – If you’re on my email list you can register for the course starting this Saturday, December 18 for $97, which is $20 less than the already-discounted early bird price! So, if you haven’t already, sign up for the list up there on the right.

A New Direction

As of January 1, 2013, Crafting my Life is closed. The blog will remain open, and I invite you to take the time to read through the archives and use them as a resource. If you find them helpful, or if you'd like to keep in touch with me, please take the time to visit me on my personal blog at Strocel.com. While I'm no longer creating online tools, I am still chronicling my personal journey as a life-crafter. I'd love it if you'd come along for the ride.

Comments

  1. Twitter: jenarbo
    I don’t have much to say other than I think you hit the nail on the head.

  2. Twitter: pomomama
    i heard an interesting description the other day, what’s your threshold for chaos?
    it was mentioned in terms of setting up a new business but i think it applies equally to any kind of life-altering, all-consuming project whether at home or away.

    now that i have this idea in my mind, i notice that balance starts to disappear as i hit my chaos threshold and that balance is defined as feeling comfortable about my life around me; parenting, business time, personal stuff, domestic and spiritual issues, health and so on. being in balance means being able to sum up the end of each day with a big smiley face

    not being in balance means ripping up the paper and flushing it repeatedly in the sewer system, along with the toilet …. just sayin’
    pomomama’s latest post..Out and aboutMy Profile

  3. I really like the term manageability. Balance suggests that all things should be handled and attended to equally at all times, and that is quite a crazy-making goal. There is an ebb and flow to life that took me years to learn and accept. “For everything, there is a season”, indeed.

    Being a parent of small children may be the most time-consuming and exhausting job on the planet. And certainly, IMHO, the most important. Then there will be the time of chauffering older children around to all their activities (living in your car), and then the delicate dance of dealing with teen-agers. And, before you know it, poof, they’re gone! (Oh, and they’ll come back, just when you’ve rearranged your life without them.)

    In the meantime there’s the juggle of work creation and maintenance, keeping the primary and secondary relationships going and attending to one’s own growth as well. Throw in life’s unexpected crises and the idea of keeping and living a balanced life becomes absurd.

    Yes, manageability is a fine goal, because , sometimes, even that will not be perfect. And those are the times we have to cut ourselves some slack and just focus on getting through the day. Things will and do get better. And support and humour will indeed get us all through. We’re all in this together.

    As usual, I enjoyed your post, Amber. Nicely done.

  4. Twitter: harrietglynn
    It’s all about what you can handle. Some people thrive on chaos; others prefer a more orderly predicatable routine. That is reflected in people’s parenting/work choices. Knowing your own inate comfort state is key.

    No matter what, when you have tinies, especially more than one, any kind of balance is difficult. I find with Theo at 16 months, family support, one paid day of childcare, and part-time work, I can manage pretty well. If we had another, I’m not so sure!

    That all said, I’m living in a bubble right now, which will burst when childcare drops away or my workload increases. But for now, I’m enjoying it.
    Harriet Glynn’s latest post..Christmas- a time to give backMy Profile