One evening, as I was approaching an important deadline I thought in order to accomplish it, and not stay up too late, I would work immediately after family dinner. However, things didn’t work out quite that way. I quickly realized I needed to stop and focus on being present with my family in the moment. If you are an ambitious and high achiever type like me, sometimes it is hard to know when to STOP. Even when you slow down or decide to deal with it later, you may struggle to fully relax. You often hear people say you have to find balance or the new phrase…work life integration. I totally agree that finding a balance between being a Wife, Mom, Employee, ______ (you fill in the blank), is extremely important. If for nothing else, do it for your own health and sanity!
Having an ambitious mindset didn’t happen overnight and for some of us it doesn’t instantly vanish when you become a mother. If anything, becoming a mother fuels the motivation to work harder to accomplish your goals for your family. Growing up I was the girl attending college my Junior & Senior years of high school and college prep classes every Saturday 6th through 12th grade. As you could guess, A’s were expected in my house. Anything less than what I would consider an A in life is hard to accept. We all want to push ourselves to get everything on our to do list done, but it comes a point when you have to decide, can it wait until tomorrow?
Before being a Mom if you asked me can women have it all, I would answer with a resounding Yes We Can! I still believe that we are capable of doing anything we have planned to do but within reason. Now that I’m a first time mom, how to maintain balance is something I evaluate regularly. Surely you want to spend time with your family but also your mind can’t rest because of the burden of all the tasks you have to complete. Let’s see there is laundry, washing dishes, preparing for the next day, volunteer work, work project deadlines, kids activities and so on. There are so many demands for our time, focus and attention.
Later that evening, as my daughter stretched out her arms for me to pick her up so I could put her to sleep, she held my face between her hands and pulled me closer so she could give me multiple kisses on the cheek. I interpreted it as her way of saying I love and need you Mama! That moment warmed my heart. I thought to myself if I would have kept my focus on my plans I would have missed the opportunity for that great moment we shared. Being busy is often worn as a badge of honor but we have to be fully present when we are physically present. Each day that goes by she is not getting younger so her interaction with me that night was a reminder that I made the right choice to trade my plans that evening for our family plans.
What I decided that evening is my daughter and husband need me more than any task/distraction that is fighting for my attention. I listened to experienced working moms say they regret missing out on time with their children due to trying to meet deadlines at work. Or you hear stories of marriages failing because one spouse works too much. Your family is a gift from God and it is your first ministry before anything else. Some may say it’s easier said than done, but I have come to terms with the fact that I may not be able to take on the same load at home, at work, etc. that I once had and that’s okay. Reality is on some nights by the time she’s in bed, I am so tired that my body says that’s enough for today, even if I think I will just work on my to do list after she is sleeping.
With this understanding, I developed some questions to consider to help me to evaluate if something can wait until tomorrow while also creating the necessary boundaries for my family and to keep me from myself laughing out loud. It’s a good refresher if I ever find myself moving back in the wrong direction. This is just a few to start with so feel free to add your thoughts or strategies in the comments. Let’s help one another! 🙂
Questions to Consider
- Is the task critical?
- Will things blow up if it is not done today?
- Will not completing the task impact progress for other people?
- Have I overcommitted myself to a task when I should have said no?
- Will my health and well being be affected by taking on this task?
- Can the task be delegated to someone else?
- Am I the only one that can complete the task?
- Will completing this task cause me to spend, what I consider, too much time away from my family?
- Will I have to miss family dinner, bath time or other family activities?
- Is the time available to complete the task unrealistic?
- How can I break the task into smaller pieces so it’s more manageable?