I used to try and perfectly juggle between homeschooling, operating a business, and family life. I’ve tried multitasking to “save time”, giving my undivided attention to whatever I was doing in the moment, timers and alarm clocks. When I attempted finding that work/life balance, I quickly realized that it was no where to be found nor was it obtainable.
I know this may sound like complete blasphemy. If you were hoping to “find balance” you might even feel a little betrayed. Bear with me.
What does Work/Life Balance Mean to You?
Why would I say such a thing? Work/life balance tips are literally everywhere. If it’s all over the internet, then it’s true.
Calm down. Don’t get your panties in a wad. Let’s look at 2 the definitions for “balance” together :
Balance : 1. an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady. 2. a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions.
Notice the terms “even” and “equal”. Balance insinuates that we can equally distribute ourselves to each aspect of our lives. The thing is, priorities tip those scales on a regular basis. How can we expect each aspect of our life to be carefully attended to when the AC unit goes bad, when emergencies happen, or each year during back to school time?
I’m nitpicking over terms and their use, but words matter! Have you ever felt like you’ve failed at juggling everything because you haven’t found that balance? Do you feel guilty if you aren’t giving the equal amount of time or attention to your family as you do with your work? How many times has this terminology guilted you?
Let me put your mind at ease : There is an easier way to find what you’re looking for! Although It might take some digging and reflection to figure out what exactly we are trying to achieve.
If Not Balance, Then What Are We Searching For?
We all want to do our best in all that we do. We don’t want to fall short or disappoint anyone. At the same time, we want to have peace in our lives. That is ultimately what we are searching for. However, peace is not found through our accomplishments or through perfectly segmenting our lives.
In fact, it has very little to do with actions at all but rather a state of mind. It comes from our beliefs and perceptions of how successful we are. Peace is discovered through a shift of perspective.
For example, we understand students are at different levels of independence and skills. Which then allots each student a different amount of time and different strategies. We know “fair isn’t always equal”. At the end of the day, what matters is that each student is receiving the support that they need.
Yet, we don’t apply this mindset to the various complex parts of our life. Do your friends and family know that you love them? Are you contributing value to your students and teammates? Do you know you’re worth? This is what matters at the end of the day.
There are only 24 hours in a day. In an 8 hour work day, 2/3 of that day is already dedicated to work and sleep. Two-thirds! Let’s give ourselves some grace. Let’s gain the understanding that we can feel accomplished not because of the quantity of time spent, but the quality that is experienced with each moment.
Work/Life Flow Instead of Work/Life Balance
Why do we assume if our attention is pulled in a specific direction, we’ve lost site of all of what is important? Is distributing our efforts evenly truly fulfilling? Have we failed when 24 hours runs up and we’ve not accomplished “all the things”? Are we failures when the unexpected happens? Absolutely not!
For everything there is a season. Instead of searching for perfect balance all year long, let us instead discover the ebbs and flows. There is a time to buckle down and work hard for deadlines. Then there are times to relax and rest. Sometimes things speed up in one area, and slow down in another. It is okay if things get a little chaotic!
It is our goal to anticipate and work with that ebb and flow. For instance, teaching around holidays has its challenges. You know that expecting the norm will only set yourself up for frustration. So you plan accordingly and make adjustments.
How can you be more intentional with your family during the back to school season? What can you plan in your self care routine leading up to and during the end of the school year? When would be the best time to get caught up on work? When should you set stricter boundaries from work?
Pay attention to the season. Be realistic with the time that you have. When making decisions, which direction gives you peace? Don’t be afraid to say, “No. I can’t take anything else on.” Go with the flow of the season that you are currently in.
Flow: 1. the action or fact of moving along in a steady, continuous stream. 2. a steady, continuous stream of something.
I understand the word “steady”above may seem intimidating. A river flows steadily when you look at it one section at a time. That flow will quicken after a drop of a water fall and saw down around a large river bend. Each season’s flow is different. Pay attention to when one steady pace is ending and where the next one begins.
More importantly, I want you to focus on is the word “movement”. No matter what, you are continuously moving forward.
I hope that this shift of perspective helps you to brace yourself during trying times and to take advantage of your downtimes. No matter what season you are in, try to be present in each moment and choose joy regardless.
Are you conscious in this moment?
Some days may be more exhausting than others, but can you still find the joy in it? Let’s not focus on things that are out of our control. Or the things that breed frustration. Is there something that gives you peace during chaotic times?