I keep hearing from busy moms and mom entrepreneurs especially that the whole idea of work/life balance is so foreign to them. In fact I was on one mom blog recently where the mom went so far as to say that therapists and coaches “unwittingly are pulling one over on all of us work at home moms by even suggesting that there is such a thing.” (a paraphrase on my part) I posted the question on twitter- “What is balance to you?”. One mom responded directly saying there is no balance, its more of a juggling act including a link to her blog post. Her post went into length stating her case and point, using her own out of control schedule as evidence. I felt her pain.
At first I must admit I got a bit defensive with both of these posts since I am a coach and my life’s work ( and personal journey) is about discovering our true brilliance, and doing the work we love to do while maintaining a sense of balance! But then my heart felt a deep sadness for all moms who get caught in the trap that these two moms so honestly and brilliantly communicated. Believe me I can relate. I was caught in the same trap. The party line has been for so long that we can have it all –but somewhere along the way we moms translated that to we can do it all. You know, ‘bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan and never let you forget your the man”?
No wonder you are so off balance and maybe even heading toward burn out. Not to mention spinning your wheels and coming up on blocks in your life and business.
Last Friday night I went on a girls night out. We went to dinner together, (Italian in the spirit of the movie we were seeing) then to see the movie Eat, Pray, Love which is based on one of my favorite books “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert. In the book and movie Liz goes to see a medicine man in Bali. (which in itself sounds as decadent and foreign an experience as it can be to a working mom like me, but maybe some day…). The medicine man showed her a picture he had drawn after a meditation. “It was an androgynous human figure, standing up, hands clasped in prayer. But this figure had four legs, and no head. Where the head should have been, there was only a wild foliage of ferns and flowers. There was a small, smiling face drawn over the heart.” He said to her “To find the balance you want this is what you must become. You must keep your feet grounded so firmly on the earth that it’s like you have four legs, instead of two. That way, you can stay in the world. But you must stop looking at the world through your head. You must look through your heart instead. That way you will know God.”
So my friend and fellow mom, there you have it. Spoken directly from a ninth generation Indonesian medicine man. So you might say what does he know about being a stressed out overwhelmed mom entrepreneur who’s being pulled in a thousand different directions? Maybe nothing. But I know, because I’ve been there. (And still visit occasionally to be honest).
It’s not about just doing it all. Really it’s about you, your heart and being who you truly are. It’s about doing whatever you do from your heart. Then whatever you do is more authentic,brilliant, enjoyable and you feel more balanced. If you are struggling (and juggling) and seeking that elusive balance you might be doing a lot of things that are not in alignment with your most authentic self- your divine genius.
So instead of trying to fit it all in to your schedule- get out of your head and drop to your heart where the real you- the brilliant you is crying out to be freed and at least feel more balanced.
Here are some ways for you to begin making that shift.
1. Get some help – Not psychological help necessarily though you might think you need it at this point. Get the kind of help and support that will give you a break and take some of the things off your plate that you’re not really inspired about. If finances are an issue right now perhaps a barter or swap with another mom or business colleague. Maybe your kids would love some quality time with Dad or Gramma which would give you quality time with yourself.
2. Make yourself a priority – Move yourself from the bottom of the list to the top. Practice some extreme self- care. Instead of using all of the time you gained from getting some help to get more done around the house or in your business; use some if it to go on a “solo-date”. And do something just for you. The grounds rules are simple – no shopping or errands. Hint: a book on the beach under an umbrella or a hike by yourself.
3. Practice being present – One of the reasons we get into overwhelm is we spend our time and energy worried about the future or reliving the past. Just be here now. When you are washing the dishes, wash the dishes. Notice I said ‘practice‘. Don’t expect to be able to be present all the time. The more you do though the more often you can catch yourself going off focus and make an easy shift to being here now.
4. Do what you “feel like doing” – This is a strategy I use myself and offer my clients. Instead of doing the things you think you ‘should’, do what you have energy for at the moment. If you think you should tackle the papers on your desk but you just don’t feel like it- then don’t. Do whatever you have the energy for right now – even if it’s a walk, playing with the kids or a good cry. I know, I know this sounds a bit irresponsible, rebellious even but trust me, after you have given yourself this gift you will have the energy and clarity to address what’s on your desk. ( You might even enjoy it more too).
A mom in one of my Personal Renewal Groups shared that when she was six years old her piano teacher told her. “If you don’t feel like playing the piano but want to go out and ride your bike then go out and ride your bike and play the piano when you feel like playing the piano. Otherwise when you are playing the piano you will be thinking about riding your bike and when you are riding your bike you will think about how you should be playing the piano. Then you won’t enjoy either one”.
Balance is about life being more effortless and enjoyable. And if that voice in your head is still questioning how it’s all going to get done? – Then dear one, from my heart to yours (and from my own experience) trust me, what needs to get done will get done. And what doesn’t get done probably didn’t matter anyway.