Is Balance Really Possible?
For those of us who look for balance and struggle to set boundaries, this moment will be a great lesson. Life at home feels like one long run-on sentence where everything sort of makes sense but by the end of it, you’re exhausted and you don’t know how you got here. Blurred boundaries between home/workspaces and no longer having that transition time between school and work can make it difficult to find your own space.
Less delineation exists between what is considered a work/school and what is considered family life now that everything is happening all at once and at the same place. This clearly goes against common life advice that you should not do activities with opposing energies in the same location (i.e., studying in bed will more likely lead to sleeping). Many parents are finding that they are working longer hours from the home office than when they were driving to and from work. However, within the workday, parents are more often interrupted by their kids’ needs and their desire to be entertained while still trying to remain on task- another faux pas against work ethic, Constant interruptions affect your flow, patience, and concentration. At work, it would be okay to snap or set clear boundaries with that pesky coworker, but when your coworker is your child, things get a bit more complicated. One friend recently mentioned to his wife, “ I don’t like who I become when I am around our child juggling work and school.” Cue in the incessant parent guilt.
So, now what? Here are a few suggestions to help you out if you are struggling with the mishmash of life.
- Create a designated work/study place. It doesn’t have to be Pinterest worthy (Ikea is all sold out) but try to set a space that is *mostly for one activity.
- Create a schedule. You may sigh or cry in this process, but hear me out.
- Create the ideal schedule.
- Add in your child’s schedule
- Compare the before and after for a realistic view of what is feasible and what isn’t.
- Delineate what is feasible, what can wait, what can be delegated, what can be erased from your To-Do List. This one is the hardest for the people pleasers and perfectionists, but give it a shot.
- Assess your child’s developmental skills. Are they capable of helping out around the house? Enlist them in chores.
- Once you have finished with this exercise, keep in mind that this is a rubric and not set in stone.
I just read James Clear’s book Atomic Habits and he emphasizes that one of the reasons why good habits don’t stick is because the system is faulty. Checking in with your family’s system will help you find where the hours are lulled away that can be used for other things, or when to cut back on nagging because your kids refuse to follow through. It also creates a space for you to decide when you take time for you, even if it’s at 5 AM or even if it’s just for that warm cup of coffee in silence. If you find yourself struggling to blend your work/family schedules, contact me to set up an appointment. These times are emotionally and mentally taxing, but they don’t have to be.