Maintaining balance is a bit like trying to keep a sandcastle steady when you’ve built it way too close to the wave. While achieving this evasive goal of balance is a beautiful thought, balance is a trickster, always keeping me on my toes. My very efforts to attain it cause me to tip over and fall. And even when I do manage to grab hold of it, everything still feels unsteady because all I can think is: how long will this calm last before the storm arrives?!
All jokes aside, achieving even the semblance of balance is no easy feat, especially as a stay-at-home mom. Between the myriad of business-related tasks I have to do, as well as the endless sea of home maintenance, yard work, and family drama, my life often feels anything but balanced. In fact, no matter how much I engage in prayer, yoga, and all other manner of meditative activities, I still find that the word chaotic rings much truer when it comes to describing my life. And I’m sure that every stay-at-home mom and/or momtrepreneur can empathize with this sentiment (which is probably one reason why doTERRA’s essential oil blend Balance is so popular)!
So how do we reach this elusive ideal? How do we achieve—and maintain—balance? How do we live a balanced lifestyle, specifically when it comes to work and family?
To be perfectly honest, I’m convinced that those who come across as living balanced lifestyles just follow that well known catchphrase: fake it until you make it! But obviously, that is really not encouraging or helpful for those of us who are still chasing after balance and wishing it was our forever.
Now, while my life is most definitely cannot be used as the poster child for balanced living, my years of experience juggling work and family life have taught me a thing or two along the way. So sit back, relax, and enjoy reading through my top 8 tips for balancing work and family.
1. Define—What does balance mean to you?
Before you sit down and start writing out a schedule or making post-it notes to remind yourself to breathe, eat, stretch, and breathe some more, take some time to define what balance means to you. Does balancing work and family look like working 40 hours per week and rejecting those extra shifts, even if they give you a financial bonus? Or does balancing work and family look like cutting back your work from full-time to part-time so that you can spend more time with the kids?
If you are going to reach this goal, it cannot be lofty and intangible. It needs to be defined clearly and precisely so that you can determine if you are meeting your own expectations. It is also important to remember that this definition should be rooted firmly in your principles, and it should definitely incorporate your family’s input. So make it a fun family activity! Ask your kids for their thoughts, talk to your spouse, and get creative! There are no limits on what balance can look like for you!
2. Date Nights—Set non-negotiable time aside for your kids and spouse.
Fuel + oxygen + ignition = fire.
So if you want to keep that passion going—whether it is your passion as a spouse or as a parent—you need to set time aside to fan the flame and invest into key relationships in your life.
And ladies, especially those of you who are ambitious and busy like I am, hear me out: this time must be non-negotiable. With the exception of some extreme illness or uncontrollable external circumstance, this time should always, always, always be set aside for these date nights. While it might seem strange at first, once you see how much having quality time together blesses the hearts of those you love, you will understand why this time is so vitally important.
3. Understand Your Limits—Don’t try to be everything to everyone.
News flash: you are human. I know, right? Who knew?!
Seriously though: no matter how capable you are as an individual, you will not be able to make everyone happy. So set that weight aside, straight your shoulders, and just be the best version of yourself that you can be!
Bonus note: Using affirmations is a great way to combat feelings of inadequacy and remind yourself of your true identity, especially when you feel like you are not enough, whether at work or at home. So take come time to write out a list of positive affirmations that you can read in the morning. This is a super practical tool that is very useful when it comes to balancing work and family!
4. Decision Making—Think about principles, not just finances.
There are so many times in my career—including right now—when I have had to step back and work part-time to prioritize my family, even if it sets me back in my ambitions and enables my peers to surpass me.
Trust me: I grew up in a home where finances were a severe issue. So if you feel that constant fear about finances and sense anxiety creepy up inside you even at the thought of cutting back your hours, I know exactly how you feel. But here is something else I know: it is absolutely true that money cannot buy you happiness. And it is important to ensure that we don’t gain the whole material world and yet lose our souls—or, worse yet, damage the souls of those we love the most.
So remember: always stay true to yourself and the principles that you initially used to define balance, and always choose to prioritize the relationships in your life. This is a decision that you will never, ever regret.
5. Self-Care—You cannot care for others if you are not caring for yourself.
For those of us who have been on an airplane flight before, we are very familiar with the flight attendant’s instructions when it comes to those florescent yellow oxygen masks: if the air pressure in the cabin changes, oxygen masks will drop from the compartment above the chairs, and each person is meant to put on their own oxygen mask before assisting someone else.
Did you catch that?
You need to put on your own mask before helping the person you love.
As a mother, I completely understand that panic-induced, love-driven urge to help your child with his or her oxygen mask first. Believe me, I get it. But here is the thing: What if I didn’t get the oxygen mask on my 6 year-old in time before passing out myself? What would happen then? I’ll tell you what would happen: we would both suffer as a result of my well-intentioned but misguided attempt at heroics.
Now, you might be thinking: what do oxygen masks have to do with balancing work and family? My answer to you is that they have everything to do with balancing work and family.
Why? Because you cannot help build up your business leaders or support your struggling children or encourage your exhausted husband if you yourself are drained, both physically and emotionally. If you are running out of oxygen, so to speak, then there is only so long that you will be able to help your loved ones before you collapse in a heap of emotional exhaustion and physical pain.
So how do you avoid this? Engage in self-care. Whatever that looks like for you, whether it is taking a shower and getting your hair cut, or whether it is going to the spa and working out at the gym. No matter what it looks like, no matter what amount of time it may cost you, self-care is a vitally important investment in yourself. And if you want to maintain a healthy marriage, a strong family, and a growing business, then you need to care for yourself.
This isn’t overindulgence. This is common sense. And it will save your life, your marriage, your family, and your business. So get to it!
6. Boundaries—Just say no!
For all of you over-productive over-achievers out there—and yes, I’m talking to you—you need to hear this message: it is okay to say no. In fact, not only is it okay, but it is absolutely necessary that you say no.
Listen: the reality is that there will always be multiple demands on your time, especially if you are competent and skilled. And while it can be flattering to be asked to participate in so many important initiatives or compassionate causes or exciting events, you need to understand that your level of effectiveness decreases the more you have on your plate.
So just say no! Practice it in front of the mirror, practice it with your kids—do what you need to do. But remember: just say no!
7. Essential Oils — Use emotional aromatherapy!
If you are reading this article and you have not heard about dōTERRA’s Emotional Aromatherapy oils, then we need to talk pronto because I am about to revolutionize your world! And of course if you are reading this article and you are connected with my dōTERRA business, then you should definitely be using emotional aromatherapy. So either way: emotional aromatherapy is key!
Emotional aromatherapy oils are uniquely powerful because they are designed specifically to bypass the logic center of your brain and directly target the limbic system in your brain, which is responsible for emotions. So instead of giving you a chance to think about being happy and decide whether you are ready to let go of your anxieties feelings, dōTERRA’s Emotional Aromatherapy oils help stabilize and positively influence your emotions. And let’s be honest: after a rough day at home or at work, I think we could all use a little bit of joy and stability, am I right?
8. Family Involvement—If you have a home business, include your family!
Final tip: make balancing work and family fun! You don’t need to live in two exclusive worlds, always keeping work separate from your family life. While you definitely don’t want to mix the two to such an extent that you begin doing work during family time, try finding some fun ways to get your family involved!
For me, I let my 6-year-old son help make essential oil samples to give away when we are out and about. He also loves helping my daughter put together the dozens of packages that we send out at the end of every month. Whether it’s putting the return address sticker on the top left hand corner, or whether it’s licking the envelopes closed, he is such a joyful helper to have around, and he knows how to get the work done!
So get your kids involved in your business if you work from home! Make it fun for them! And while it will require some patience on your part—especially if you’re slightly OCD like I am and you just wish that your 6-year-old was as careful to put the labels on straight as you are—it will build up your kids and bless their little hearts, making it well worth the effort!
Ultimately, there is no perfect way to ensure that you are balancing work and family 100% of the time. But really, that shouldn’t be the goal. Instead of aiming for perfection—which is itself an unbalanced ideal—let’s focus on getting to the point where we are balancing work and family in such a way that we can be successful without sacrificing our sanity and our joy.
So let’s shift our focus from perfection to contentment. Let’s get to the place where we are satisfied with ourselves and living fulfilled lives. Because, at the end of the day, balance is about creating beauty from ashes and choosing to see the rainbow through the storm.
I bless you all to have a beautiful, balanced day.