Let’s face it. It’s not always easy to fit in family, home and work into everyday life.
Finding – or creating – balance in life is a concept that seems like it should be possible. Since we all have 24 hours in each day, we could create routines or schedules to fit all of our responsibilities in to life.
Simply fit in time with your husband, your children, work, friends, church, and everything that’s needed to care for your home.
Except that there’s nothing simple about it.
As much as we may like to find balance, the truth is that life happens in every day. Unexpected things pop up. People get sick. Your help is needed. Chores have a tendency of taking longer than you anticipate.
Our days may tick by with a clock, but our actual lives are nothing like clockwork.
So whether or not it may be comforting, an important truth to remember is that you won’t find balance. It’s an elusive dream.
And as much as you may strive to bring routine and order to you day, the unexpected still will happen and throw your plans out of whack.
When life just happens
Don’t get me wrong. Routines are good to have, and it can be so helpful to know what should be coming next in your day.
But it can be tempting to put our hope in these systems and routines – in an, “If I only could get the right homemaking routine down, my home will practically run itself!” kind of way.
I’ve found that as good as those routines may be, life just happens on many days. Figuring out how to go with the flow can be an excellent way to cut back a whole lot of frustration.
As soon as you may think you’ve got things under control with a fantastic routine, something will come along and upset everything. By trying to relax and get back on track whenever possible, you can bounce back from unexpected interruptions.
For me, knowing that balance is ideal but improbable is comforting.
I don’t have to live in defeat just because my perfect plans are completely ruined. I stop myself and realize that the best thing is to fit the rest of life in, interruptions and all.
Sometimes (most times!) we need to work with the natural rhythms of our life and devote more time than usual to certain commitments. For example, if you’re having a rough season with your children – or your health or your home – you naturally need to spend more time and attention to the things that need your time and attention. Other things will fall to the wayside until you can catch up.
Instead of bemoaning the fact that life feels so unbalanced, we need to remember that it’s just life. It’s OK.
It’s all a matter of time …
As impossible as it is to truly find balance, it’s exasperating to know what you need to juggle – whether it’s relationships, responsibilities, or commitments – and not know how to best juggle them.
My key to creating a semblance of balance in life is found in thinking about my priorities. As I decide what is most important to me – the Lord, my husband, my children, my home, and other relationships – I can then figure out when I’ll spend time on everything.
In some cases, quality time is what I can give over a quantity of time. For example, my relationship with the Lord may be the most important thing in my life, but my schedule doesn’t necessarily reflect that. Instead, I keep Christ at the center of everything else – kind of like the center of a web – and watch how my other relationships and responsibilities come from that.
For close relationships – like with my husband and children – I know that I need to invest both quality and quantity of time with them. I may spend a lot of time with them – but if I’m not engaged and find myself too wrapped up with my to-do list, then it’s not like I’ve spent time with them at all.
Instead, I need quality time with them as a real investment. I need to be fully present as a wife or a mom to use my influence as a wife and mom.
Here’s the tricky part, though. Just as I’m convinced that my husband and children need quality time with me and those relationships are the heart of a haven, I also can’t devote all my time to them – otherwise, our home may end up in shambles, or we’ll be hungry if I never get around to grocery shopping or food preparation.
The exceptionally difficult thing about balance is realizing what you need to devote to your relationships, and then fitting in the rest of your responsibilities.
Sometimes, you can find ways to marry the two to make life easier. For example, if I know I want to spend time with my husband and children, then I make sure we’re actually together. But since our housework still needs done, we can plan on times to work together – whether we spend 20 minutes folding and putting away clean laundry together, or getting to visit while cleaning up dinner dishes.
3 ways to try to create balance
Practically speaking, though, if you’re still dreaming of ways to find balance – even though you know it’s a fantasy – here are 3 suggestions to help:
On nights when our computer or TV isn’t turned on once our children have been tucked in to bed, my husband and I have really good talks and can connect well. It’s not always the norm, though.
By making an effort to find a time and place for a conversation, it actually happens. Left to happen on its own, and the rest of life crowds it out. I’ve found that weekends can be great times to plan for this, when we’re not consumed by the demands of a work week and school week.
Also, planning date nights is a huge help. Depending on your season of life, these date nights may not happen so often, but plan them, anyway.
2. Plan on a time to have fun with your children.
For my family, homeschooling can get in the way of just relaxing with my kiddos. I can feel the pressure to turn anything into a teachable moment. Or, I also have the tendency to fit in housework while I’m spending time with my kids. (I reason that I can clean a room quickly if my son or daughter is sitting in the same room and we’re visiting.)
It’s a huge challenge for me, but setting aside time to just have fun and enjoy each other is important. Some times, my children just need to see me smile and hear me laugh. And I need to step back and see how much they’re growing and changing and appreciate their current interests.
It may not be easy to set aside the time, but it’s important – and it helps bring a good balance to our relationship when I know I can’t dedicate one on one time with them each and every day.
One easy way to spend time together is through meals shared at a table without any distractions. As a family, we can sit together and talk about what happened in our days.
3. Figure out the rest of life and fit it in.
Sometimes, you’ll need to figure out what absolutely needs finished in a day. On those days, do what absolutely needs to be done. On other days when you have more free time, pick up the slack.
As you make time for the most important relationships in your life, then figure out what you need to do and fit it all into place, like a challenging puzzle. If you work, figure out when you need to work. What do you need to do around your home? Once you know what it is, when will you do it?
Figure out when you can do everything else, and try to step back and look at the big picture. It’s OK if you can’t get everything done. It’s OK. (Repeat this to yourself, if you need to.)
Fit in what you can fit in, then postpone everything else. Some days it will feel like you’re only focusing on what’s urgent, but as long as you’re making time for the most important, the urgent can fall into place.
As you’re living with what life brings your way each day, fit in routines where and when you can – but don’t forget to make room in your plans for the people in your life.
What do you do to fit in family, home and work into everyday life?
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