Tuesday, August 23, 2011

It's All Just A Balancing Act

I read an article recently that stated that women who believe that it is possible to maintain a proper work/life balance with families are MORE likely to suffer from depression than those who don't think it is possible.  I found this pretty interesting and started looking through my history to see how this applied.

A few years ago, I was working full time outside of my home. I didn't strive for perfect balance, I barely managed sometimes. I lived on an "as-needed" basis most days. I wasn't stressed about what was or wasn't getting done because I simply knew that it was a crap-shoot. Can't win them all, so just do what you can.

Then I had a great maternity leave after my last baby. I was afforded the luxury of being at home for a year. I learned all kinds of neat things about managing my home and life as well as raising my kids. I was also home at a time that became difficult with my oldest meeting with several doctors and psychiatrists where we finally reached a diagnosis. I was not a crazy mom, something about that boy WAS special.

I had a spotless, organized home. My days just flowed. I had a few hours every afternoon where I could sew or read or relax. Every day.  Then finances got tight. The trucker was laid off just before Christmas and I had just barely begun working again. I was struggling to manage the home, family, special needs and schools, support the trucker until he got working again, and work from home.

Working from home is an illusion. It doesn't make anything in life easier, it makes it more complicated. It is easy to get sidetracked from work to laundry and the other way, from relaxing family time to checking emails and such.  I couldn't figure out why it was all so hard to do.
I fell into a depression that just seemed never-ending.

Why?  Because I still believed I could do it all. I still believed as I had before when working away from home that I could get everything looked after. I failed to remember that I didn't do it all before. I let it all slide. Life was simple and that worked.  When I started working at home, I had the mindset that I could balance perfectly. I had a few hours every day that were free before, so I could fill them with work and nothing had to change.

I certainly agree with that article. (You can read it here) When I believed I could balance, I suffered. When I didn't think it was possible and didn't try so desperately, I survived. Interesting perspective.

When I had my most recent meltdown, I revealed that I've spent much of my summer trying to please everyone else first. Because I filled my free time with work, I forgot to replace the free time for myself somewhere else.

So, I'm readjusting my schedule. I'm changing my priorities and because I have blasted all of the truth out of my head, my family (mother and trucker) is on my side. There will be less pressure. I am signing on at a gym for some ME time.  I will not compromise my breaks for others needs. Work is important and will be a priority, but not at the expense of my family. Others in the house need to pick up some responsibility too. And those things that just can't get done, will simply wait.

No one died from having dishes sit overnight. No one ended up in the hospital because there were toys on the floor. Well, wait. Maybe, if they like tripped on Lego or slipped down the stairs on a hot wheels car (can you tell I've got boys?)...  My pain in the a** portable dishwasher is going to get some exercise. I don't use it often because it is just annoying to move around. But I will.

I was definitely happier when I didn't think it was possible to do it all.  So I'm going to stop trying and just do what feels right.  Starting now, I have to listen to all my own advice! I need to really pay attention to the positive messages I am sending. And I need to share more of the positives with the people here, in my house, not just for readers online. I appreciate the small moments. Those are the moments that pull me through.

The balance will shift back and forth from time to time. That's okay too. It doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to be done. Right?

Wish me luck!  And kick me every now and then when I sound like I'm forgetting this!

1 comment:

  1. Great post! You know I am in complete agreement. It is when I tried to "do it all" that the most important things (which actually aren't things) got lost. I will never make that mistake again, no matter how bad my house ends up looking!

    And ps. the gym membership is a great idea! My one hour of exercise is truly my daily therapy!!!