Earlier this year I wrote about feeling like a circus performer, including being a juggler of many things. It’s what being a working mother is like, all the time, especially if you work for yourself. I would also add that it’s like that for people that aren’t mums and those who have regular jobs – life today is just so much more complex than it was. When I was a young adult, we had no mobiles to keep safe and master, no internet or email accounts, let alone the 8, yes 8 social media accounts I currently have.
So I frequently drop balls. Big ones, small ones, some that shatter, some just bounce. I just try and do too much.
So I have a new policy which I would like to share with you.
I hate the idea of balance. I have strived for the illusive “work-life” balance for years and have finally dumped it as just not for me, but the concept of balance is helping me in other ways.
My new, not revolutionary policy, is to not add anything else in to my life, without taking something out. Basically I won’t add another ball into my juggling set, without taking one out!
It took another skirmish with overload for me to consider this.
I took a day off – it doesn’t happen often and even if I am really ill, I drag myself to my laptop (what a martyr!). During this day off, I asked my body what it needed. Here is what it said:
“Jen, you need more of some things and less of others, but you can only add things in, if you take something out, so:
You need more water…..and less wine
You need more exercise …..and less sleep
You need more laughing…..and less rigidity
You need more s*x ……and less TV
You need more painting and less emailing” …..gosh such wisdom when we just listen!
This made extraordinary sense. I wonder why my plans to exercise never work out. It’s because I try and add 3 chunks of time to my already stretched week, without making adjustments else where. If you try and add in new things, albeit helpful things, you just end up in overwhelm. You just have more to manage and cope with.
I should point out that I don’t advocate for less sleep lightly. This isn’t a new age, survive on 4 hours thing, its just that I get around 7-8 hours sleep and still wake up tired. It just isn’t making me feel better, so my body said “You’ll feel more energetic if you get more exercise and stop striving for long sleeps” so I’ll give that a go! So it’s a natural balance – swop an hour of sleep for an hour of exercise.
So my challenge to you this month is to ponder the following:
– Just notice when you add something else to your weekly schedule e.g. a new kids activity which requires you to taxi them, a new exercise class, a parents association meeting or perhaps. If you can’t dump something else to balance it out, just be gentle with yourself
– If you want to add some regular in, find something else to dump and make sure you dump a thing which doesn’t give you energy, joy or produce something good! Take a look at my examples…..TV doesn’t really offer me joy or energy, just back ache and anxiety!
– Notice if “your time” is getting squeezed out…it happens quite sneakily!
– And if by some miracle, you end up with a hour or even 10 minutes of spare time, try spending it on something which fills you with joy, or moves a project forward, rather than just getting ahead with the housework!