Every day in my life is a balancing act. I have a busy job, a marriage I adore, a child to raise (who is thankfully also adorable and generally – although not currently – easy) and oh, yeah my general health and sanity and chronic disease to manage. It’s impossible to keep it all in balance every day. There isn’t enough time in the day, really, and we make ourselves crazy if we try to do that. My approach is to check in every couple of days to see that the things that are the most important to me (my marriage, my child, my health, my work) are the things that are getting the most of my energy. I know that when I’m feeling frustrated and burnt out with life, it means I haven’t taken the time to do that recently enough.
So what does that look like in practicality?
- Scheduling: There’s a lot of scheduling in my life, to be sure I can make sure the right things get priority and I don’t accidentally double book something that’s going to cause a conflict in my priorities. I’ve written more about that kind of scheduling and detailing here and here if you want to read more about what that really looks like for me. There are lots of things going on in our lives and having it all written down somewhere helps me see where the conflicts are going to be early enough to make a thoughtful choice about handling it. Darrell & Oliver had been planning on going to Des Moines with me to see me finish the race. However, one of Oliver’s friends is having a birthday party at 1 pm that day. It would be really hard for us to get out of Des Moines and back to Omaha in time for that party so we had to decide what to do that was the best for our family, in terms of valuing my running (and the importance we both place on Oliver feeling like he’s part of that) and valuing the need to navigate childhood friendship and social nuances. We’ve had to say no to a lot of birthday parties because they’ve been at bounce houses and O is banned from those until his growth plate is cleared later in the year thanks to his broken leg and we’re worried that he won’t get invited to parties if he’s always the kid who can’t go. We haven’t really formed many friendships with the other parents, so we know we need to put ourselves out there too. Plus, Oliver says this kid is his friend and he really wants to go (I think this is a new pre-K friend because we didn’t feel like we knew him until all of this came up). Thus, for now, we’ll let the party win and they’ll stay home while I go run alone and that’s okay. They’ll still cheer for me when I get home. I think it’s sweet that Darrell has struggled with that decision because he feels like he’s missed too many of my race finishes. 🙂 It’s okay – it’s all about making the choice that is right at the moment for your values and knowing that you’re doing your best.
- Create little rituals: When time is tight, you’ve got to pack the few moments you have with as much value as you can. For my personal sense of well being, that also means finding little moments with my family, like happy hour dates with Darrell on Fridays before we pick O up from school or talking about what we’re grateful for at dinner. Those little moments help all of us re-center to our values and re-establish that balance.
- Figure out what your values really are: If we never stop to think about what is really important to us, it’s hard to know what to prioritize. Those values may change over time, too, so it’s a good idea to check in with yourself and/or your partner periodically to talk through “What’s really important to us?” and “Are we doing the right things to reflect that in our lives?” It’s so easy to lose track of it all in the hustle and bustle of life if you aren’t really sure what your “it” is. For me, that list is short: marriage, child, job, my health. If it isn’t on that list, we don’t rearrange our lives to do it and if possible, we pay someone else to do it for us so we can “buy time” for more important things on our list.
- It’s more than okay for YOU to be one of those priorities: All too often, we put all of those other priorities (job, marriage, parenting, house cleaning, etc) ahead of our own needs, whether that means our rest or our diet or our exercise or our hobbies. It’s okay that we’re people too. It actually crossed my mind to just cancel my trip to Des Moines all together rather than go without my family. Reasonable, right? My family is a huge priority for me and if I stay home, we can all have more time together. Guess what? It’s okay that I get to be a priority too. That means it is okay for me to work family time around my training runs sometimes (although the majority of those are done when everyone is asleep) and it is okay for me to drive off alone for the weekend to run a race because it is important to me. It’s okay to put your own mask on first.
What does balance look like for you?
Welcome to the new co-host of Tuesdays on the Run, Marcia, who is joining Patty and Erika while April takes a break (much love to April!)! Check out the link up for other tips on maintaining balance between life and running and everything – I certainly will be!