(This pic will make sense later)
An on-line friend emailed me, asking me if I had any tips on how to integrate all the different roles she has in life. Especially now that she had gotten such a mad ‘n rad important one added to the list: Being a mom.
Short answer? Dude. I can barely hold it together without having a small human completely dependent on me so long story short I don’t know and you’re actually doing great and I think you are amazing OK BYE.
Duuuuuuuude. (I am mentally high-fiving you.)
I’m very impressed with you as it is.
I mean, here I am. I want to be a cool and Zen yogi-like and do yoga classes at 06:30 AM, but I also want to be a nice girlfriend and
annoy cuddle Manfriend (and consequently oversleep because our bed is so warm and toasty). Yes, I do want to get up early and be super-productive drinking green juice and writing self help stuff, but I also want to stay up and drink champagne and wicked cocktails while dancing until four in the morning.
I want to eat a lot of vegan food, but, but, bacon exists. I want to drink green juice and eat a lot of raw food, but also massive amounts of Tony’s Chocolonely need to be consumed. I want to spend quality time with my family, but I also want to sit alone at my desk and write and recharge so I don’t hate everything. I want to be an amazing teacher and read EVERYTHING on EVERY topic, but I also want to binge on the Walking Dead episodes and Tumblr.
Yoga, but sleep. Green juice, but coffee. Family, but me-time. Writing, but Tumblr. You feel me?
But. What I describe above? Psssh. Luxury problems. Puny first-world white girl complaining about having ALL the things and all the options. The parts of myself I struggle to combine is child’s play* compared to trying to combine taking care of an infant with all the other roles you used to have.
In all honesty, when you also have the ‘mommy’-role, I can only fucking APPLAUD you for even trying.
I mean. You made a human. You pushed it out of your body — which in all likelihood was no walk in the park either.
And now you have to take care of it while also being a wife or girlfriend, a friend, a student, an employee/employer, and -maybe the most important one of all-, just being you. I have so much respect for you. All the awards.
While this article is nothing brilliant, I wanted to offer my perspective on balancing different life areas and the roles you have to play in them. Mom or not, you’re probably juggling a few different important things and maybe this contains something helpful!
– No brainer maybe, but writing things down can be majorly helpful. It makes you realize what you think your most important duties and responsibilities are, what roles you fulfill easily, and the ones that are not getting enough airtime.
Maybe even make a list per role (Wife, Parent, Employee, Friend, Daughter, Just You). Write down the tasks you feel fall under these categories. Then prioritize using the ultimate to-do list method to see what are the bare necessities to make you feel like you’re doing a good job in these different areas of your life.
– Accept defeat before you even start. Ouch, no?
Sorry to break it to you babe, but you’re never ever going to do it as perfectly as you wish you would. We are a breed of perfectionists. We think we need to be way more perfect than is actually necessary. You’re always going to feel like you’re not doing it good enough. You might as well take that as a given and just accept the small victories.
Finding a balance means just that: Life is dynamic. Sometimes you tip over in one direction, causing another one to get neglected (even just temporarily). The art is not to find the perfect spot and balance there forever, because everything around and within you changes constantly.
The art is in being able to just walk on that balancing rope. If you can do that, you will know what to do when you’re on the verge of keeling over: You’ll just tip that toe slightly more to the right, stretch out your other arm a little more, bow a little more forward or bend a little more backward until you feel stable again.
Just accept it right now. Your valiant effort IS going to be amazing, but one way or the other you will always feel like you’re lacking or slacking. The goal is to walk the rope as well as you can. Non-metaphorically, that’s getting the majority of the most important things done. If you can do that, you’re an absolute champ.
– Be willing to sacrifice if need be. (Also, you’re allowed to say ‘NO’)
Teaching 5 days a week I had little free time. And in that limited free time, I had to prepare the material for the courses (lots of reading), grade papers, get groceries, do other house choirs, spend time with Manfriend, see my family and seeing my friends as well as find a sliver of me-time somewhere for tea and writing.
Inconveniently so, my exercise regime of choice is doing 1,5 hours of sweaty yoga postures multiple times a week. I’m sorry, but I didn’t just have 1,5 hours lying around at that time. Anywhere. And if I had, being well-prepared at work and spending time with my loved ones was more important.
And so I temporarily let ‘Yogi’ go from my list of most-important roles. Just for as long as necessary. I (temporarily) sacrificed it for the role of ‘Teacher’, ‘Girlfriend’, ‘Friend’. ‘Daughter’ and ‘Person’. I missed it, but I made a choice. It helped.
No longer teaching 5 days a week, I can re-prioritize the roles again. The role ‘Yogi’ is put back up, as another role takes less of my time and effort.
Morale of the story: life becomes a little easier when you don’t force yourself to do everything at the same time.
So NO, you cannot bake 70 cupcakes for your company’s annual brunch, because you’re too fucking busy toilet-training your kid.
So NO, you cannot go to a rave with all your friends because you’re too busy cramming for that exam.
NO, you can’t take on an extra project because your parents need you right now.
Sometimes areas in your life suffer from the pressure that’s in other areas. Sometimes relationships suffer because of the workload, sometimes one of your roles drowns under one of the others. As long as it’s nothing unacceptable or unfixable, this is part of the balance. And you can choose when to put one thing on hold for the sake of another.
– BUT be ruthless about the things you do for the ‘You’ underneath all the other ‘You’s.
Although it may not always feel like that, the person underneath all the different parts of yourself is who you really are. The way you behave in all your different roles is because of THAT particular you. And I believe it’s important to pay attention to that ‘you’ a lot as to keep functioning well in your other you-roles.
Of course you can’t always take me-time exactly when you want it, but it IS something to build into your (probably busy) schedule. That time to reflect can help you function better in the other roles you have. So you know, do the things you like when you have a moment to yourself.
A quiet hour on the couch or in the bathtub, a good book, some writing, all that cheesy stuff the girly magazines tell you about. Do that every once in a while. It’s healthy.
Okay. That’s pretty much it. All this is humbly offered upon anyone who has a lot of different things to do. I hope it helps and, as said before…
Duuuuuuuuuude. OK BYE.
*HAHA PUN you see because I’m talking about moms and kids and stuff THANK YOU I WILL BE HERE ALL NIGHT TIP YOUR WAITRESS.