Desperately Seeking Balance

by Amber Strocel*

Hey Ladies, this is Amber here.

I have a 2-year-old and a 5-year-old. I spend my days at home with them, for the most part. This means that my days are hectic. I don’t accomplish much that I set out to do, but I still do a lot. I wipe, hug, fetch, clean, teach and cut the crusts off of PB&J. It’s the life I signed up for when I became a mom, and I love it. Parenting is hard, but it is also rewarding in a way that no other job in the world can be. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

As much as I love my life, sometimes it feels out of balance. I haven’t had a haircut in six months, and I haven’t seen a grown-up movie in the movie theater in even longer. I’m pretty sure my friends without kids have given up on me altogether. I am so busy being mom that I don’t take the time to also be me.

On a rare day out with a mom friend

Balance sounds lovely, but it can also be loaded. I already have a to-do list a mile long. Adding ‘live a balanced life’ to that list feels sort of like piling more work on to an already full plate. I wonder if it even really counts as ‘balance’ if I stop spending time with my husband so that I can spend time with myself. I don’t think so.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. The end of one year and the beginning of another makes me examine my life. Also, the holidays are a very busy time for me, so I feel more out of balance than usual at this time of year. Plus, I am creating an online course about living with intention that is directed towards moms, which means that I’m talking to other people about balance.

As I think about balance and write about balance, a few things stand out for me. One is that balance shouldn’t be an obligation. If we haven’t spent time reading in a coffee shop for a while, there may be a reason for that. We don’t need to feel guilty, or as if we must strive for some ideal of balance.

I’ve also realized that there are times in our lives that just aren’t going to be all that balanced. The time that you spend at home with two little kids is one of those less-balanced times. It’s not going to last forever. I would rather spend this time enjoying my children, than worrying about how long it’s been since I saw a grown-up movie in the theater.

Most important of all, though, my definition of balance and your definition of balance may not be the same. That’s as it should be. We are all the best experts on our own families. If you need to get out of the house to see a movie to save your sanity, find a way to do it. If you would rather spend the day at the park with your kids, that’s fine, too. We can each decide what balance looks like for ourselves.

Which brings me to my question. What is your definition of balance? What keeps your life as a mom manageable? I’d love to hear!

Written by 5 Minutes for Mom Contributing Editor, Amber Strocel. Check out her blog at Strocel.com, and her online course on living with intention at Crafting my Life.



Email Author    |    Website About Amber Strocel*

Amber is a crunchy granola mom of two, a suburban superstar and an incorrigible dreamer. She spends her days trying to organize chaos, and eating chocolate on the sly. You can read about her daily adventures on her blog at Strocel.com or check out her quest to help other moms live with intention at Crafting my Life.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Casey December 31, 2010 at 1:14 am

Balance is different for everyone, and I think it’s different for us at different times in our lives. I think when you (or anyone for that matter) are looking for balance, you have to figure out what you’re really looking for. Are you looking for stress relief? Relaxation? A different way of thinking? All those things can provide balance, but if you decide to take a calculus course from the local university when what you really want is stress relief, that’s not likely to help you feel balanced. However, if you’re looking to regain some of what you’re missing from your time in your career, you might really like a nice calc class. :)

I love haircuts. I get my haircut every 8 weeks without fail. It’s only an hour, but it’s so worth it to me. I love having a new haircut, and I really enjoy visiting with my stylist. If I am feeling really adventurous, I might pick myself up a coffee on the way to or from the haircut.

Right now, I have a 5 year old, a three year old, and a 2 month old. My life probably isn’t very balanced, but I’m feeling okay about that at the moment. I do think about what it would be like to go somewhere by myself without worrying about expressed milk, whether the baby will take a bottle, or how the older boys did at bedtime. But, right now that’s my life. As I see how fast the baby grows, I know it will be much sooner than I’d prefer that all of that is gone.

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2 Amber Strocel December 31, 2010 at 11:54 pm

It’s so true – it really will be over before we know it. It’s why I try not to stress too much over the lack of balance. I’ll probably really miss this time!

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3 Susan December 31, 2010 at 5:34 am

I find striving for balance can sometimes stress me out. My life over the last few years has been terribly unbalanced and I’m trying to even it out. For me the key is I must get exercise and sleep. I need those and over the last few years I haven’t gotten enough, so I’m trying to change that.

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4 Amber Strocel December 31, 2010 at 11:55 pm

That’s the thing, isn’t it? If striving for balance stresses you out, then it can feel kind of pointless. I still think it’s worthwhile, but we need to go easy on ourselves, too.

I hope you find the sleep and exercise you need! I’m right there with you – I don’t get enough of either.

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5 Jessica H December 31, 2010 at 11:32 am

I do agree that balance is different for everyone. For me, I find it easier to maintain some kind of balance if I am not stressing the little things. When I quit worrying about the dishes in the sink and more about relationships, I do so much better. The relationships in my life that I work on the most are: first, with God; second, my husband and baby; third, myself; and fourth, my friends. Perhaps it seems terrible to put myself before my friends, but if I don’t take care of myself, I’m not a good friend. Actually, I’m not a very good wife or mother either. So maybe it sounds like I should put myself first because if I’m taken care of then I’m better to others. But I’ve found that if I put God first and then my relationships with my family {not my house – it can be easy to get those two mixed up}, then I feel more fulfilled, more balanced, which helps me feel better about myself {thus, taking care of myself} and I can focus more easily on my relationships, keeping me even more balanced. It’s a daily effort, for sure. But one that is completely worth it.

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6 Amber Strocel December 31, 2010 at 11:57 pm

Having clear priorities, so that you know what you need to focus on, can definitely help. I agree that it’s really important to look at relationships first. “People before things,” is a good motto for most any situation.

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7 mamikaze December 31, 2010 at 12:07 pm

I’ve chosen to take balance at week at a time. Trying to balance each day between kids & work is impossible in my home. Aside from our daily routine, we have blocks family time. My husband and I try to spend individual time with each kids and group time. It doesn’t always happen but we do our best.

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8 Amber Strocel December 31, 2010 at 11:58 pm

Balance is a dynamic thing, so it makes sense to take it just a little bit at a time. That’s a good approach – I really appreciate it!

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9 Stephanie December 31, 2010 at 4:33 pm

Hi Amber! Your post has so much truth in it.

I especially appreciate this line: “I’ve also realized that there are times in our lives that just aren’t going to be all that balanced.” I’ve come to the same wonderful realization over the past few years. I can’t have a sparkling house, a remarkable marriage, a great relationship with my kids, perfectly laid-out scrapbooks, a creative and well-written blog, a thoughtful friend, a world traveler, AND a savvy businesswoman. I have to pick-and-choose what is right for me and my family for each season. After all, there are only 24 hours in a day.

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10 Amber Strocel January 1, 2011 at 12:00 am

Thank you so much for your kind words!

It’s true – we can’t do it all, at least not all at once. It’s important to recognize the seasons of our lives, I think. Once you can do that, it’s easier to handle the situation you’re in, knowing it won’t last forever.

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11 Andrea January 1, 2011 at 5:24 pm

I think I am always seeking balance. Thank you for sharing this little bit of your journey with us. :-)

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12 Amber Strocel January 1, 2011 at 6:51 pm

I must say, I do spend far more time SEEKING balance than FINDING balance. Too bad, huh? ;)

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13 Funkidivagirl January 3, 2011 at 8:43 pm

I think that you are correct; there are times in your life when it isn’t possible to have balance. I have that life now and I’m trying to come to terms with it.

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