Recently I was talking to a fellow full-time working Mama at church. I lamented to her that I just didn’t know how to balance everything. She quickly replied in a kind but blunt manner, “There is no such thing as balance! It’s a lie.”
Those words took the wind right out of me. As I caught my breath, I began to think a lot more about what she had said. What does balance look like for me? Does it look the same for everyone? Is it something that I can attain or just something I am constantly striving for?
Work, home, ministry, marriage, parenting, friendship, cleaning, laundry, meal prep, and the list goes on. With so many hats to wear, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Maybe I’m alone, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I’m in good company.
As much as we talk about balance, it’s such an ambiguous term. It looks different for everyone and is often quite elusive. The idea of balance can sounds so idilic, doesn’t it? In reality, seeking balance often feels a little more like treading water. We switch to survival mode rather than thriving. We seek balance like it’s a destination, rather than a constant work-in-progress. When we look at balance like a destination, we are left focusing on how far we have to go. We fixate on where we have fallen short rather than how far we have come and all that we have done.
I recently heard a pastor state that we wear busyness like a medal of honor. We try to one-up people, as if being busier means we are more successful, more popular, more wanted, more needed. Our culture celebrates busy.
I get so caught up in trying to do it all that I miss the chance to actually enjoy it. I spend so much time trying to live up to my often unrealistic expectations of myself that I forget how to simply be present. How to simply make the most of where I am and who I am with.
For me, balance is figuring out how to embrace right where I’m at, even if it’s messy and perhaps not quite what I imagined. Balance is showing up and being present. Balance for you might look very different than balance for me, your friend, your neighbor or even your significant other. I find myself comparing my version of “balance” to other women around me. Comparison is a big, ugly game. You will always find someone who seems to be doing it bigger and better.
I feel like I should be the last person qualified to write about balance. But as someone who gets lost in the balancing act, perhaps I can share what I have learned from my own successes and failures. Everyone is different, but here are some strategies that have helped me to find better balance:
Seeking a Better Balance
Quiet Time- I find that no matter how tired or busy I am, spending time reflecting, praying and reading scripture energizes me. It sustains me and causes me to shift the way that I look at my day. Rather than “HAVE TO”, God reminds me of all of the things that I “GET TO” do!
There are so many amazing devotionals out there! Here are a few that I have used:
- Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence
- YouVersion Bible App
- She Reads Truth Bible
- She Reads Truth App
- Word Before World Challenge from Well- Watered Women
My quiet time is often less consistent than I would like and typically shorter than I desire, but I strive for quality time rather than a certain amount of time. I consider myself to be the opposite of a morning person but when I make the effort to get up even a half hour early for some quiet time, my day is all the better for it.
Best Yes- The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands by Lisa TerKeurst really helped me to learn not only is it OK to say no, but it can be healthy. Balance means not saying yes to everything. By choosing wisely what we say yes to, it frees us up to be more intentional and to do things well. Quality over quantity.
Prioritize- A good friend of mine recommended finding the one thing that is a daily absolute for you to accomplish each day. For her it’s a clean kitchen sink, for me it’s making the bed. Maybe for you it’s at least a few quiet minutes by yourself or a workout. Whatever it is, figure out what is a must and what can wait.
Celebrate the Little Victories- Rather than focus on all of the things that I didn’t get done or perhaps feel that I didn’t do well, I try to focus on the things that I did accomplish. Perspective is a powerful thing!
Meal Prep- For a long time I used the excuse that I was too busy to meal prep. As it turns out, there are a lot of different ways to meal prep. There are many experts out there that educate about healthy meal prep and do it well. I do know that this meal planner/ grocery list has been a life saver though!
Lauren Greutman is an amazing resource for meal planning. If you know me, you know that I love Aldi and I love saving money! Lauren makes meal planning so easy! She even maps out exactly where you will find each item in the store! With her help, I prepped 21 freezer meals for under $150! It’s a relief to know that when all else fails, I can throw a meal into the oven, crockpot or Instant Pot!
Head over and follow me on Pinterest for some more ideas! I am adding recipes all of the time (especially with the Instant Pot these days).
Working Out- I know some people live by these two words, while to others they may be curse words. For me, some sort of physical activity nearly every day makes a world of difference.
Between my husband and I, we have tried just about everything- expensive mega-gyms, month-to-month gyms, boxing classes, training for runs, you name it. But in this season of life, I knew I needed something that was flexible and could be fit into the wee hours of the morning, post-bedtime or better yet something that would even allow me to multi-task.
My friend Kathleen is a rock star. She is an ACE certified personal trainer and founder of Just Keep It Simple Fitness. She has a workout program that takes no more than 20-25 mins 4-5 days a week. It has been the answer to my fitness prayers. There is no expensive gym that I will lead me to inevitably feel guilty for not getting my money’s worth. It’s a downloadable program that requires nothing more than a set of weights and a small space. Now, all of sudden, any room in our house can be a workout and Quinn “works out” right along with me.
This list is by no means exhaustive. Whatever balance looks like for you, I hope that you grant yourself grace and realize that perfect balance does not exist. It is a lie. There is freedom accepting that balance is not a destination. No matter who or where you are, you can’t do it all. And that’s OK.
Whether you feel that you do too much or not enough, press into that. Surround yourself with people that challenge you but know that YOU ARE ENOUGH. Right where you are!
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