Is it even possible to find a healthy balance in life when you’re a parent? Yes! In fact, I’d go so far as to say it’s crucial to find a balance because without one, we run the risk of parenting and/or work burnout as well as mental and physical exhaustion. It’s also important that our children see us modeling a healthy, balanced life because children learn what they see. If they grow up in a home that is run by stress, caffeine, anxiety, constant rushing around and irritability (all signs of burnout!), then that lifestyle becomes normal for them. When we can create centers of peace, happiness, relaxation and fun in our homes, we are teaching our children that a balanced lifestyle is worth having!
Here are 5 simple tips to help you find some balance in your everyday life as a parent (whether you work outside of the home or stay-at-home with your children):
1. Turn off your phone for 1 hour every day. Yes, you can do this! Pick the hour that works for your daily routine. Maybe that’s dinnertime, 6pm-7pm or the last hour of the evening before your kids go to bed. Turn off your phone or better yet, leave it in another room altogether so you won’t be tempted to check one more work email, respond to a friend’s email, or your child’s school requesting volunteers for a (fill in the blank, field trip, library time, classroom party set up).
2. Do make exercise a priority! Your physical and mental health is everything. Without exercise, we feel tired. All of the time! I’m a runner and I love to find time 3-5 times a week to either run, take a walk or hike with a friend. It’s my “me” time and I won’t sacrifice it even if that means a little less time devoted to work or my family. I’m a better and happier consultant/recruiter, wife and mom when I’m working out regularly.
3. Let go! This is hard. Really hard. If you’re a type-A personality like me, it’s hard to let go of anything. I like to be in charge. To lead. To have a plan. But, sometimes, it’s freeing to let go. To give myself permission to take an afternoon off from work, volunteering or family obligations. It’s good to have some time to do absolutely nothing. To sit and be bored. To take a hot bath. To read a fun magazine (in my case, that’s a home design magazine!) that has nothing to do with my “real” life.
4. Work hard but play hard, too. This is one of my life’s mottos! I love what I do for work and it can be consuming because I have such passion for it. Even if you don’t love your job, it’s hard not to get sucked into a mentality of giving your work 100% of your energy, devotion and time. Play time is important for kids and adults! Don’t say no to that mom’s night out or to drinks after work once in a while–even if that means missing bedtime once a month and letting your husband/wife/partner take care of the kids.
5. Smile. This seems obvious but when you smile at the people you see at work, at home and out and about in the community that you live in, you are projecting a positive energy that is truly contagious! People love to be around positive people. While we all struggle at various periods in our lives, we have so much to be grateful for as well. Smile and remember that you are alive and that you have a family who loves and cares for you! It’s the little things in life that we most take for granted that are truly the big things that matter the most.
“You cannot be really first-rate at your work if your work is all you are.” – Anna Quindlen
“It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: what are we busy about?” – Henry David Thoreau