Life’s Balancing Act
Updated: 3 days ago
How do you feel about your work life balance? I think we all wish we could shake a magic wand and have the perfect balance, but….. Depending on what phase of life you are in, work life balance means different things to different people. When I look back at my teenager self, I think, ‘that was so easy finding balance’. But really it’s all relative to what you have already experienced. At the time I may not have felt that way. I'll skim over the areas commonly known for sparking frustration in organizing balance then give my advice that may or may not help ya. If it works for you, awesome, if not, no worries. But, Hey let’s take a quick peek and see if we can find a way to have success with your life's balance today!
As a teen you may be just experiencing your 1st job, and it takes up some of that precious friend time. Your parents are probably telling you, “you better keep your grades up or no more…” (friends, sports, work, etc.) So now you have to navigate how to get homework done, keep a job, not get behind on Tik Tok! It’s rough I tell ya!! As you get a little older and not in school anymore, for me, this was the BEST of the Best times! Work life balance was at it’s optimum! I didn’t have traditional homework because I was in my early 20’s and no longer had any homework. After work, I came home to my parent’s house. My only responsibilities were cleaning my room, my washroom and maybe a few other things. My money mainly belonged to me and I used it for enjoyment, clothing, indulgence at it’s finest. 🤩
Later in my 20’s, I had my most major hit of reality. I bought my own home. I got married. Amazing things to accomplish, but it became a bit harder to do everything I used to do whenever I wanted to do it. I remember feeling overwhelmed when I realized that all the chores were on me. No mom was coming to do them for me. Dishes were still in the sink in the morning and no little dish fairy came and made them magically clean and in the cupboards each day!!! Sheish! There was certainly an adjustment that had to be made there.
In the next decades to come, we’re talking about the new additions! Babies, pets, bills, bills, bills. Teens, college, house repairs, bills, bills, bills. Work, work, work. Some friends that were so important once upon a time, have moved so far away, visiting is tough. Maybe you’ve drifted apart, or just have new friends based on where you live, or even the sports your kids play - things are definitely different. The work life balance takes on new challenges all the time!
How Can We Overcome Some Obstacles to Make Us Feel Whole Again?
I think the teenagers deserve a little attention here too. After all, if they can learn about this early in life, maybe they will be better prepared for the future Whopping of responsibilities they’re gonna be handed. 1st of all, learn to combine things. When it comes to making time for friends, you may want to get closer with more friends on the team you have joined, that way you can spend time practicing Or just generally going a bit early to a game or event and get some time with them. If you like playing a particular game online, perhaps call a friend and see if they wanna play at the same time so you can be doing socializing, bonding and gaming at the same time. This also works with inviting a friend over and while you are hanging out, you look online at Tik Tok or whatever other ‘thing’, socially that the kids are doing these days. Mostly you will be at home, so family time is usually covered. Pick a time for homework each day and NEVER procrastinate! Best is right after school or supper, to get it out of the way.(procrastination in the future leads to a multitude of negative outcomes). And if work is making you suffer in all these other areas, make sure to ask for less hours until you can get your grades up. If they won’t do that for you, there is plenty of work for the young, specially at the mall. Move on and find a place that values you.
When did you first feel like an adult? - Not the “I’m 18 today! I’m officially an adult!” Adult, but there’s a time when it really kicks in. For me, even though I owned my own business early on at 23 and I was pretty responsible, there was still a moment when it dawned on me that I was actually an adult - YIKES - this is happening. Yep, I was 25 or so. I had bought my own house. I had never had more than a double bed to change the sheets on and now I was the one washing the sheets also. I went to put them back onto my king size bed and had to walk back around the bed so many times to get it right that I cried. I quietly said to myself, ‘I want my mom’. And I think that was when I realized I’m an adult. I think, to combat the feelings of being overwhelmed, whether it’s chores, or work or whatever it is, you just have to find a balance that won’t leave you feeling a sense of doom. For me it was most likely just known as an adjustment period.
Readjusting is the game of life. If you are in a position where you have your own home and bills and finding yourself working to pay those bills, you may start to lose the balance you once had. At the end of the day, you may only find enough time to hang with your significant other and you’re exhausted. Just know that you don’t have to come home and cook a big meal or always think of what to make. Don’t put those pressures on yourself. You can open a can of soup once in a while too. No biggy. Buy a couple frozen dinners and pop them in the microwave. If you want the lovely meal, maybe make, for example, a whole chicken on Sunday. Do it up, make it a beautiful meal. Buy a large enough chicken that you have leftovers. Sunday night, pull off all the rest of the meat and put away for tomorrow’s supper. You’re having chicken wraps! Put on all the fixins, and you got yourself a great meal. At the same time chop some veggies and make a soup out of the leftovers(carcas, etc.). Add some beans or your favourite legume. Put it in the fridge and there’s another meal. Easy peasy. Need help finding time for friends or family? Well, it’s time for them to come visit you. Don’t worry about a clean house. They love you and really don’t care. Let them bring you a meal too! Or at least a snack. They won’t mind. They just wanna see you. This way you don’t have to spend time getting ready. You can literally have a visit in your P.j.’s if you really want; track pants if you wanna dress it up a bit. 😉
Once babies and kids come along, this is the newest and maybe most major adjustment you’ll ever have to get through. Children can be all-consuming. It’s scary, and wonderful all at the same time. If you are going through this right now, please try and enjoy as many moments as possible. This is just us, living life. Sometimes we tend to look more on the pessimistic side, but I’m suggesting that to feel less overwhelmed, try and laugh each day at something that may have stressed you out in the past. It can’t hurt to try…. One way or another, you have made the decision to be a parent. If it was an accident or planned, if you didn’t give them up for adoption, then you made the decision to be a parent. With that comes a lot of responsibilities. NOW some major balancing acts come into play. Once you are at the point where you have to go back to work, the task becomes tougher and tougher. More adjustments to be made than ever before. The buddies you used to hang out with 5 evenings a week, may not want to hang out with the crying baby. Or maybe you can’t keep up to them anymore because you’ve had a different kinda all-nighter. The answer to this is that the party friends become your ‘once in a while’ friends. Your besties now, become the other parents. You get together and make ‘play dates’. This is the way to keep your sanity because you’re able to vent with other friends who can empathize. And don’t forget - when the kids play together, you get a few moments to enjoy some adult time with the other parents. Another piece of advice is - let ‘them’ take your child! No, not strangers, but the loved ones in your circle. If they offer for you and your significant other to have a night together or a night out with the friend, say yes! Don’t think you have to do everything all the time. Let go of some control. It’s good for your sanity. You won’t regret it, I promise.
As the kids get older and you’re burning the candle at both ends, it can be extremely tough to find that work life balance. Work wants you there. The kids need you there. Uh oh! Now what?! The reality is that we can’t do it all. Sacrifices have to be made, but there are ways to do this minimally so that you are still happy with the outcome. If you find you’re working too late and you can’t drive your kid to soccer, make sure to contact other parents on the team. You probably wouldn’t be surprised to know that they are probably looking for help too. You be the driver/parent one night and let them do it on another night. This way your child is still getting to the practice and you haven’t let them down…. again. And once a week, you’re the parent/hero who hangs out with them and maybe an ice cream after the game to incorporate a little more of the time you crave with them and they with you. Bonding and memories are priceless.
A FEW SIMPLE TIPS:
-Make kids help at the grocery store. If they are pre-teens or teens, give them part of the grocery list and a basket and meet up after a couple aisles. Obviously just give them a list of items that they can handle. My daughter gets items that I wouldn’t be looking for a deal on. I tell her to get what fruits or berries she likes. I only teach her to look for items gone bad. We have to let go of some control here too, but it frees up time and we are home quick. It’s worth it.
-Give up some responsibilities. Responsibility is key with kids. My daughter has been making her bed each morning as soon as she wakes up, ever since she was 6 years old. Ok, well maybe on a Saturday, she just closes the door so I don’t look, but now, as a teen she knows I’m not gonna make it for her. The only time is when I wash the sheets. She also keeps her own drawers organized and closet and cleans her washroom and walks the dogs in the morning and evening. These things give her a sense of pride an ownership. She has a few other responsibilities, but you get the point. It takes some reminding, but it also takes some things off my plate. Whatever puts more time back on my clock.
-Housework is a pain, but gotta be done. Disburse your chores throughout the week. Growing up, we had one day a week to make everything spotless. When my mom had cancer, she said if she could change anything in her life, it would be not to focus on cleaning so much. So let go a little. Now I tend to spread the laundry through the week. A couple loads thrown in Tuesday and Wednesday, and folded while enjoying some evening tv show makes it less painful. I clean a washroom when I find a few minutes on a weekday and then on the weekend it doesn’t take as long to straighten up. I didn’t think this would work, but I was wrong. It’s great. I spend more time with family on the weekends and I will not die with that regret. OR if you can afford it, hire a professional and take this off your plate completely.
-Family / Friend Time. This means different things to different people. Whoever we are talking about, be sure to make it count. Use this time to also get something done. Be productive. For example: If you wanna hang out with your parent, make sure to invite other family members. It’s like a 2 for 1. Well for us it’s even more. We take the time to visit my dad. My sister comes by, my nieces, and sometimes my brother. It’s really nice to keep caught up each week. If we have something to accomplish that weekend, we can do it together. This can be some shopping, planning for an upcoming wedding or party and the most common, baking or cooking. Got some Christmas baking to do? Make it a group event! Another example: You wanna make time for the gym? Take a friend or family member with you. Most gyms do guest passes or allow one guest. Go to those gyms. You’ll feel better after the workout and you will have had some precious time with a loved one.
-Work - Help! My tips for work are that you need to make sure you are doing something that you enjoy. If you hate it, you should actively be looking elsewhere for employment. Always have the confidence, and know your worth. People feel they may not be qualified enough to move on. Well there’s a job out there that suits you and will give you the time you need to feel healthy. You deserve it!!!! Chronic stress is the most common health issue in the workplace, which can lead to physical issues. Some jobs add things like game rooms and ping pong and bean bag chairs, hoping you will think they want a healthy work environment. I say, be careful as those places may just be fooling you into staying longer hours, making your home life suffer. If you don’t want to leave your job, but need to cut down hours, you will need to gain the strength to talk to your boss and be honest. Let them know you need to put some hours back into your personal pocket, and see if they will negotiate. Maybe you can find a day or two where you could work from home, saving you time on your commute. Just that, alone, for some would save them over an hour or more. Plus, if you're home on your lunch hour, you can get some of the dreaded chores done or even some "me time", if the kids are in school. If you never say no at work, you’re gonna have to start. There’s no way around this if you want more work life balance. You need to set some boundaries with work and you will be surprised at how that will empower yourself.
-Plan, plan, Plan. If you don’t plan it, it most likely won‘t happen. To solidify a plan you must write it down, and stick with it! My media of choice is pen and paper. Something as simple as a weekly plan, when written on a paper, seems to come to fruition more often. When I think something in my head and tell myself, ‘I should do that this week’, uhhh, yeah that never happens. But when I write a list on a paper and scratch things out through the week, I have a much better feeling of accomplishment at the end of the week, even if I don’t fully complete it, I can start a new list and carry over the things that I didn’t tackle. Each week, you may accomplish a little more. It feels great! Try it!!!
-You CAN do the things you love. If you’re stressing that you can’t fit all the things into your life that you used to, stop! Let’s Chill and think this through. Ok, yeah, maybe you can’t go hike Mt. Everest with a baby on the way! But, you CAN go for a small hike somewhere nearby, for now. Some things WILL go on the back burner as we go through life’s curves. How about we try doing shorter versions of the things we love, if that’s all we have time for? Instead of hanging out with our besties all day shopping, then getting ready together for a night on the town, and having a sleep over, we make some adjustments there? Now we make time to pop by for a glass of wine and some delicious cheese; check out the closet and help them dump some clothes they‘ve been wanting to get rid of; have some great laughs and call it a day.
-VACATION!!! If all else fails, plan a vacation where possible. If you are overworked and you feel you never get enough family time or friend time, this may be the only solution. If it is, do it! There will never be an optimal time for vacation. You just need to do it. Work certainly gives you a week off here and there. If you want alone time with immediate family, do that. If you want to include friends and have it cover all basis, do that. Whatever you do - Unplug & Enjoy the crap out of it.
Navigating life is not easy. Everyone is different. In the end what gives you the feeling of balance in your life may not be the same the person next door. One thing for sure, Please let go of things, for which you have no control. Since I let go of things I have no control over, I live a much more zen and happy life. You can too!
Thanks for tuning in! :D
Your Neat Life
Professional Organizer & Interior Consultant