When I was returning to work at the beginning of Term 2 after being on maternity leave for 8 months I had many a wise person tell me that I would need to find that spot, the perfect balance between my home life, with my husband, son and dog and my work life, with my class and professional responsibilities.
You need a balance in life between dealing with what is going on inside and not being so absorbed in yourself that it takes over…
Coming now to the end of the year I am wondering what exactly is ‘balance’? Do I have it? And how can I get more of it? It also got me thinking about how my friends with young children who also, have recently returned to work find balance and if their idea of balance is the same or similar to mine…
After talking, ‘Facebooking’, texting and emailing friends, and reading articles entitled ‘The Importance of Maintaining Balance’ and ‘5 tips for a Well Balanced Life’, I have come to the conclusion that for myself and those that I spoke to the principles behind finding balance are very similar if not the same.
- Quality not Quantity!
It is all about how you spend your time with your children rather than the amount of time spent with them. Playing, reading, rough and tumble, going for a walk, finding a new playground to explore and creating memories with and for your little one. Nothing makes me happier than watching my son develop and grow. Having special time each day where nothing else is important but him and whatever happens to be interesting to him at the time. At the moment it is all about books and sitting on our laps reading. Ensuring I make time that is just for him helps me to find balance in my life.
- ME time!
It is important to look after yourself as well as those you love. Take some time out each day to do something that you enjoy and find relaxing. Take the dog for a walk, have a bubble bath or find a quiet corner to read.
It is only recently that I have come to appreciate just how important it is to take time out for myself. My ‘me’ time has come to include getting my hair and make-up done in the morning before leaving the house and taking an exercise class that I love twice a week. Including these things in my week is helping me to achieve and maintain balance.
- Knowing your Priorities…
Balance doesn’t mean doing everything you can. Decide what is important to you and fit those things in first.
One of my friends said to me, “The house work will always be there. It can wait until later.” She is right. Quality time with my family comes first when I am at home and if there are toys scattered around the floor and washing to be folded, it can all be done once our son is asleep.
I try to do as much school work as I can while at school and in the time that I am there my class and the children in it are my highest priority. For me separating my home and work life helps me to feel more balanced.
The final thing that really stood out for me when talking to other full time working mums was that they all thought it was ok if at times we lost our balance and not to be too hard on ourselves when this inevitably happens. It is those times when we do our most learning, when we learn what our boundaries are and how far we are capable of pushing them. Keep thinking positively and get back on track as quickly as possible. Realise that something’s happen and they are out of our control. Do what you need to do to achieve balance. Write to-do lists, plan your time on a calendar so everyone knows when and where you and they will be at what times, make sure to include time for yourself, your family and your friends.
At this stage in my life I am happy with the balance I have achieved. I feel that I am giving the best of myself in everything I am doing. I take time for myself each and every week and enjoy that hugely. I play and read with my son every day and my favourite time of day is right before bedtime when we sit quietly together, have a story and wind down. My husband and I always sit and have dinner together no matter what time it is… that is our time to unload, talk about our day, talk about what is coming up and just enjoy each other’s company. I enjoy coming into school and getting ready for my day with my class. I enjoy how hard they all work, their sense of humour and their ready smiles. I enjoy watching them achieve goals and set new ones.
So… do I have balance in my life? Yes, for all of the reasons above and more!