Yup, I said it. Balance is BS. It’s a challenge for anyone, but especially for stressed out moms.
A few weeks ago, I was scrolling through Instagram when I came across a post about achieving balance. The writer believed that balance is possible with concentrated effort and energy. It got me thinking – what do I REALLY think about balance? First thing I did was satisfy my curiosity and looked it up.
Oxford.com defines balance in several ways (I had no idea there were so many definitions!).
- (noun) An even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady
- (noun) A situation in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions
- (noun) Mental or emotional stability
When I think of balance with the first two definitions, I think of the woman in the picture. It’s gorgeous. Right by the water with the beautiful blue sky.
Her head, back and right leg are aligned in a straight line while her left knee is pressed against her left forearm. And both arms are bent almost 90 degrees to keep herself up. So there’s an even distribution of her weight on the rest of her body.
But, what’s missing from this picture?
No kids hanging on her arms begging for attention. No zoom meeting to attend, no laptop nearby. Nada. She’s completely focused on the act of keeping herself balanced. And it’s amazing and more power to her for achieving it (because I KNOW I can’t do it).
Buuuuuut, let’s be real. I’m a regular mama and I’m guessing you are, too. There’s NO equal parts of anything in a stressed out mom’s life. There’s so much to juggle and focus on. Life is messy and full of responsibilities – like work, family, friends, faith, etc. Sh*t happens.
How can you have balance when you’re working on unfinished project, thinking of what to make for dinner and wondering if Timmy did his research paper? Because THAT’S real life. All. The. Time.
That’s why balance is BS. It isn’t real life! You can’t give equal focus to everything in your life at the same damn time! Impossible. And SO stressful! Nothing I do gets my full 100% attention because I work and cook and clean and mother and do remote learning. Hello COVID time. So what can you do instead?
Now this is where the third definition comes into play – mental or emotional stability. Here’s the thing about this one. Sh*t happens. (2020 anyone?)
This past year was enough to test everyone’s mental and emotional stability. In fact, even my own has been tested so many times. I’m running my biz, parenting two kids mostly on my own, doing remote learning with my nugget AND still working as a therapist part-time. Even I needed support from my own therapist. And that’s okay.
The thing with life in general is that things will come along that stress us out, cause us to worry and disrupt our lives. It’s a given. Even in the span of an hour, your feelings change and plans get shot. But, I’ve found a great way to take care of myself. Something I’ve learned to do and am so grateful for.
Most people who know me personally, know that I taught myself how to play the guitar over 20 years ago. One of the things I learned to do what how to tune it. At first, I used an electronic tuner and later learned to tune by ear (humming a note and matching the sound of the guitar string by tightening or loosening it). It wasn’t easy to learn, but once I did, I could do it anytime I needed to.
It’s the same with us.
But Heiddi, WTF does “tuning in” mean? Good question!
It means doing for yourself what you already do for the people you love most.
Yup! You ALREADY do this. It’s one of your superpowers. When you notice that your kids are hungry, sleepy, cranky, etc – you’re tuning in. When you can see a tantrum coming a million miles away, you’re tuning in. You’re focusing your attention on their needs like this —>.
And when you do that, you use your super solution Jedi Mom skillz to help your babies. It’s this kind of tuning in that makes you a great mom. Because you are.
All I’m asking you to do is to do it for yourself.
I’m challenging YOU to tune in to your thoughts, feelings, needs and wants. In the same way you do for your family. Checking into where you are physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually at any given moment. But, why is this so important?
Because you can then use that information to make better choices that will improve your mood, uplift your spirit and increase your energy. To use the super solution Jedi skillz to help you get through difficult moments in your day/week/year. And that’s self-care. Periodt!
And why is self-care so dang important? Because being happier and healthier lets you be the mom, spouse and person you want to be.
To get you started, here are some questions to help you tune into your needs (Note: It may help to jot your responses down so you can explore it fully).
- How does your body feel right now? Are you tired? Hungry? Achy?
- Where do you feel tension? Is it in your neck or shoulders? Your back or stomach?
- How are you sleeping?
- What are you feeling? Happy, sad, mad, scared, worried or surprised?
- How intense is that feeling? On a scale of 1 – 5 (1 being not much at all; 5 being very strong). I call this taking your temperature.
- Do you feel fried or foggy? Having trouble concentrating?
- How are you exercising your brain? Learning new things? How are you being challenged to grow?
- Do you practice connecting with your spirit? Like meditation or prayer?
- How do you acknowledge yourself? Do you pat yourself on the back for a job well done?
I check in with myself using a variety of the questions above. And I do it so often now that I can instantly tell when I’m feeling off and then do something to help myself. Whether it’s getting so water (which I hate, but feel better when I drink it), do some deep breathing to reset or sit down with my trusty journal to write out the junk. Writing is a great way for me to let my feelings out, give myself a pat on the back, practice gratitude and think about what I haven’t been doing to reduce stress and relax more.
In fact, I just scrubbed my tub about an hour ago because I was stressed out about my oldest son being sick. And these days, anytime someone gets sick, it’s VERY scary. I went to town on my bathtub and felt much better after.
Tuning in is a great way to practice self-care and reduce stress. Once you know what’s wrong, you can do something about it and live the way you want. Happier and healthier.
It would be nice if we could achieve balance like the woman in the picture at the top of this post. But, it’s not real. What’s real is tuning in to yourself. To make the best choices for you. When you tune in to yourself, you take care of yourself better. And taking care of you means taking better care of them.
How do you tune into yourself? What keeps you from taking that time for you? Let me know in the comments.