Wifeys & Gentlemen,
Happy Sunday! I hope everyone has had a nice, restful weekend. Mine wasn’t so great. I don’t know why, but whenever I’m nearing the end of a vacation (or in this case a leave of absence) my anxiety and worry seem to take over. I am so busy trying to “enjoy” the last few days I have that I don’t actually end up enjoying much at all.
I know going back will be okay. I know I can still do my job and that my kiddo will be fine with grandma for the next couple of weeks. I know that my husband and I will figure it out as we attempt to be parents while working from home.
I know all of this in my head, but my silly heart won’t listen.
What has made today a little better than the last few is remembering my accomplishments and focusing on my goals. That sounds super cheesy and lame, I know, but I’m serious. Sometimes when I feel like I have no control over anything, I slow my mind down by remembering the good I’ve already done and the success I’ve already had. There is something about knowing that I already have the tools and resources I need to win. It makes the world seem a little smaller during particularly anxious moments (ones where life feels like it’s too much or too big).
As you all know, my biggest flex of 2020 was giving birth to my daughter and becoming a new mom in the midst of so much weirdness. Second to that was the fact that I found the time to complete the final course of my Master’s program.
I know ya’ll are sick of hearing about it, but I wrote a 49 page thesis, you guys!
I did that! 😀
I am super proud of myself so just let me have this one for a little longer, okay? 😉
Believe it or not, I’ve actually had a couple of people ask me how I managed to do it with a baby around. Of course, not having to work my regular job played a HUGE role, but what I lacked in 9-5 demands I made up for in mom duties, I promise you! Naturally, I’m happy to share.
Please note that I’m not some expert or guru and I certainly don’t have any business telling anyone how to “have it all”. In fact, if there is anyone out there who is an amazing wife, mother, talented at her job, and getting her phD please hit me up in the comments because I need to pick your brain. 🧠
All joking aside, what I mean to say is that I’m not perfect. I do not have it all figured out. I’m sharing these tips on work-life balance because it’s what has worked for me. Keeping it all the way 💯, some of these tips I actually had to learn the hard way when I didn’t do them well the first time. Finding work-life balance, for me, is about knowing that you’re a mess and finding a way to juggle it.
In no particular order, here are some of my tips that have kept me sane and on track:
Create a schedule for the day/week and stick to it as much as possible:
Sounds obvious, I’m sure, but one of the tasks we had in my thesis class was to create and post a weekly action plan. Initially, I only did this to appease the requirement, but I found that when I actually used the plan I created, things went much smoother. On top of having a writing plan, I made an effort to structure my day around my husband’s class schedule, my baby’s nap time, and any other needs we might have had for the day. Try to remember that the schedule won’t always be exact. Things come up and plans will change. But when you have a schedule do your best to really follow it.
Be flexible with changes:
Don’t be so obsessed with the schedule that you freak out if things change abruptly or something interrupts your flow. If you’re a parent, you know too well how unreliable babies can be. My daughter did not care if I had a deadline; sometimes she didn’t want to nap or required more hands-on attention from me. In those times, you adjust. You make sure to give yourself grace and build in time for chaos to strike! Know that there will still be moments when you feel like you’re scrambling to catch up. It’s okay. The schedule is a soft guide and you’re making a commitment to doing your best, not being perfect.
Play to your strengths:
If scheduling and outlines aren’t your thing, figure out what is. How are you most productive and organized? What helps you succeed? Maybe you hate the idea of a daily schedule but know you’re a morning person and use your time before work to get things done. Maybe you’re a night owl who does their best work after the household is asleep. Whether it’s time management, making lists, or working well under pressure, find the things that you’re good at and make them work for you. I’m a task master and I get a weird little thrill from checking things off of a long “to-do” list. Strange? Yes, perhaps! But it works.
Use your village:
I wouldn’t have been able to do anything without the help of my amazing husband, Mr.B. Despite having only two weeks of parental leave and a very demanding job, he was so great about sharing responsibilities with me in a way that gave me ample time to work and recover. It’s okay if you don’t have a partner in your life. Don’t be afraid to ask your friends and family for help if you need it. I’ve said it before but your circle should be the people you really trust; the people who believe in you. Those people are great resources when you need to save time or offload small tasks that you don’t have a moment to handle on your own. They can also be a great help when you need to relax, decompress, vent, or let loose.
Don’t let yourself burn out:
Did I mention that I learned some of these lessons the hard way? Just ask my husband how many times I had a total meltdown that could have been avoided if I was more flexible, used my village, and relied on my strengths. Of course, there are a few times where we burn out unexpectedly, but 8 times out of 10, we see those meltdowns coming from a mile away. When you know it’s on the horizon, do your best to be disciplined enough to slow down and take a break. Drink water. Eat good food. Watch tv or read. Exercise. Shower. Have a friend zoom chat or a date night with your love. Walk away when it’s bad so you can come back refreshed and avoid any regrettable mistakes.
My favorite part of juggling is the reward I give myself when I check something big off of the list! For example, when writing my thesis I would set up a writing goal for the week and make sure that I had a nice reward set up when I achieved that goal. It wasn’t anything crazy. After completing my first draft I had a “me” day where I baked brownie pudding, drank champagne, ate a strong edible, and took a hot bubble bath. I treated myself to a “to go” brunch when I was done with my annotated bibliography. Find something to motivate you and be sure to treat yourself kindly for all your hard work. It doesn’t have to be elaborate but it also shouldn’t be the same thing as taking a regular break. You need breaks to avoid burnout and you need basic self-care daily. Go bigger than your human needs for the rewards and make it something you could otherwise go without.
Pro-Tip: Reward yourself even if you fall short of a goal. Maybe you didn’t earn brunch from your favorite spot, but you can still grab a muffin and latte from Starbucks or something.
Remember you are human:
You are a mess sometimes. It’s okay. No matter what new project you’re starting or what phase of life you’re in, you are just one person and you can’t be everything to everyone or everywhere all at once (say that 5x fast 😂). You won’t always do everything exactly as planned or execute perfectly every time. Remember to show up for yourself and your village when it matters most. Remember to find humor in the little things. Keep moving forward even when you slip and fall. You got this!
Again, I know I am no expert and I know that posts like this can feel oversimplified at times. Look, if there was a key to finding the perfect balance between work, family, and achieving our dreams, way more people would have mastered the art. Still, I hope these tips can, at the very least, let you know that we’re all trying and doing our best. We all have to find ways to balance and juggle our mess.
Let me know what methods you use to juggle all the aspects of your life.
See you Tuesday for a new podcast episode!
Until next time,
Carry on wifeys & gents!
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