How to See Balance Differently to Experience Peace
For so long I was trying so hard to get up at 5 am. To get a few precious hours of work or self-care in before the kids were up for the day. I never got “enough” done so I spent the rest of the day thinking about all the things I had to do. Trying to sneak away for a moment or two here and there. Feeling guilty that I wasn’t really with my kids even when I was with them.
I love what I do every day. Connecting with my community. Supporting clients. Creating content for the amazing parents who find their way to me in a moment of frustration and overwhelm. I could work 12 hours a day for the pure passion of it.
I love my boys. I’m beyond grateful that I’m able to be flexible with my time to be home with them most days. The thing is between you and me, I wasn’t really with them even when I was sitting right next to them.
Checking my phone. Responding to an email. Jotting down new content ideas.
All the doing. And thinking about all the things that needed to be done.
At home. In parenting. With Work.
I had forgotten how to be. Be present. Be focused. Be mindful.
This was stealing my ability to be patient, to be calm, to be connected.
And this was playing out in my child’s behavior. The whining. The demands for attention and time.
As hard as I was trying to grab just 5 more minutes to work, the harder they’d try to get my attention.
I would end each day saying that I would be better the next day
My lack of focus on any particular thing meant I wasn’t really present for anything. That chaos was stealing my energy, my time and my productivity. And, most importantly my connection with what actually mattered to me.
And, I know I’m not alone because I hear this struggle from so many moms.
Always trying to take from one to give to the other.
I was exhausted and constantly in a state of feeling that I was failing.
Balance doesn’t work.
Freedom actually came when I threw the scales away and gave up trying to find balance.
The very premise is the idea that if I take away from one and give to another I’m creating equality in the weight of the scales of work and kids and home and self-care and relationships.
Believing that if this elusive equality was finally reached the stress and pressure and overwhelm would somehow evaporate. The chaos. The lack of focus. The weight of never being good enough would be lifted.
But equality isn’t actually possible and wouldn’t matter even if I did somehow manage to achieve it.
It doesn’t matter because it’s not actually what’s causing my stress and overwhelm. The cause of the stress is the judgment I’m holding myself in. What I’m making equality mean and what I’m making it mean about me when I don’t have it.
My belief about balance was causing my stress leaving me searching for it as an escape from this feeling.
An escape I tried to find by endlessly scrolling social media, binge-watching Netflix way past a bedtime that was good for me, spending my time planning my days only to ignore it.
I realized balance wasn’t what I wanted and gave myself permission to let it go. To burn the scales.
Equality isn’t possible. Equity is. Giving each area what it needs to be successful. Achieving equity with intention. With presence. With focus.
Time is relative to how you relate to it. The idea of balance places the focus on what you don’t have or aren’t able to give instead of what you do always creating a time scarcity mindset vs time abundance.
Changing my mindset allowed me to see my schedule as my power. To use it to create time with intention and honor the schedule with presence. When I was no longer operating from seeing time as scarce and controlling me, I created the freedom to source my own schedule and therefore my time.
No longer being controlled but being empowered. No longer striving for what I could never have but creating what I wanted.
In this my energy soared, my patience flowed, and my productivity and focus allowed me to get things done and connect with my family like never before.
By changing my relationship to time and my schedule, I changed my experience as I operated with intention and presence rather than balance and equality.
I began to live in ease and flow instead of chaos and overwhelm.
I’m going to show you exactly how I did this.
Clarity. What are the 3 most important areas of your week? Not the things that take up the most time.
Support success in your relationships.
Who needs what to be successful? What fills your cup every week? Ie. Kids, partner, connection with friends, time alone, meditation, exercise
What creates a connection in your relationships? Do your kids thrive with 10 minutes of cuddles in the morning before school? Does your partner need regular date nights to feel connected?
Work your schedule. Don’t let your schedule work you.
Now you have clarity on what you need. Is your schedule reflecting this? Likely not. And that’s okay! We’re here to change that!
Write down everything else and the approximate time it takes each day/week. Work. Grocery Shopping. Food prep. Kids activities. Everything.
Take your weekly schedule. Write in your bedtime you’d like to honor and your wake time.
Add the things that are inflexible (your work hours, kids activities, etc)
Carve out time in your schedule for each of the most important things. Schedule this. As if they are inflexible appointments.
Add the rest. (grocery shopping, cleaning, etc
If your running out of hours consider what you can take off your plate to create more space. What support can you call in? (Work may or may not be one of your most important although it likely takes the majority of your time. It is what it is. Let it go. )
Schedule it. Plan it. Honor it. Freedom comes not from the winging it or trying to fit what matters most into the cracks and crevices that are left but in planning for it and following through.
Use the screen downtime on your phone.
Allow yourself to be in the moment whether it’s 15 minutes with your kids at bedtime or screen-free family mealtime or ending your day with a 10-minute catch up with your partner.
Allow that time to be 100% focused on this part of your day. Operate with intention. Mindfulness. Presence. Being fully in the moment. Letting go of whatever else “needs” to be happening. Remember it’s not equality you’re looking for.
Identify roadblocks and obstacles.
What’s your drug of choice in the past to avoid feeling this overwhelm? Social Media. Tv. It’s the thing you do when you tell yourself, I just need a minute to myself (because you’re not giving it) Consider slowly weaning yourself from these habits because now that you’re giving yourself what you actually need, you won’t need as much of this. Or set a time limit on it and do it with intention instead of avoidance.
What are things that might get in the way of honoring your schedule? sick kiddos, big work project, husband working overtime. Consider these and as you move to working your schedule, think about solutions when these come up. When you operate from being proactive, you're in your thinking brain seeing solutions you aren’t able to see when your reacting.
The stress that comes from things being out of balance is really the guilt that is overwhelming you as you know deep down that you’re not giving yourself the things you need most and you’re not present in the time you do have with those that need you most.
You try to find this elusive balance. When you shift your mindset to giving yourself and your relationships what they are needing most to be successful with intention and presence not equality of time, balance stops being the thing that’s going to give you relief and you can simply enjoy the time you’ve carved out for each thing.
If you’d love to read about other mindshifts that can begin to shift your parenting experience, grab my latest download “10 Mindset Shifts That Can Completely Transform Your Parenting”. I’d absolutely love to hear from you! Drop me a quick note to share how this resonated with you or just to say hello:-) at firstname.lastname@example.org
Irene is the owner and founder of Irene McKenna Coaching. She is a parenting coach passionate about supporting moms to experience relief from the stress, overwhelm, and frustration of parenting (and their child’s behavior) and create peace, joy, and connection. She is a mama to two amazing little boys and partner to a beautifully supportive man. She loves dancing it out to Bon Jovi, reading all the parenting and self-development books she can get her hands on (seriously!), and drinking her kombucha out of a wine glass. She works with moms through 1-1 coaching, live workshops, and is the creator of The Peaceful Parent Playbook.