I have a bit to unpack today. First, this theory that work-life balance is a realistic concept, and Second, the validity of Self-Care and what that actually means. I have spent over a decade in search of just how to balance work-life. Seriously flipping through article after article, talking with friends who appear to have a much better grip on life than I did at the time, playing 21 questions with whomever would entertain my thoughts on the subject and here is what I have found…Balance is not the right word. Suggesting that work and life can somehow fit on a weighted scale and come out weighing the same and seemingly “balance” is a fallacy. What I have come to realize throughout the years of chasing this idea of balance, that work (my work in particular) isn’t as consistent as some of the friends I polled for their ideas on the balancing act. That is a major factor and could become an entirely different piece when you really delve into the difficulties of time management and scheduling in reference to those of us whose careers are in public service. Nevertheless, it is something worth addressing.
When I think about balance my mind always jumps to food (have a well-balanced diet they said…yet here we all are struggling to find the time to barely have a working lunch, let alone a healthy and balanced one). This may or may not speak volumes for those that know me, but there are certain foods on my plate that can’t touch. For instance, at a Holiday dinner, my greens typically are plated alone (I like them vinegary) because if they are plated with the rest of my meal and my plate shifts it could add a bitter taste to the otherwise savory side dishes that remain and RUIN my holiday (that came off extreme, but I am 100% serious). Irregular work hours can add a bitter taste to the flavor of your day and I haven’t really come across HOW one can balance the flavors, but more so Manage the flavors by only allowing the things that blend together well overlap, and those that don’t must remain separate. For instance, while at home I can cook dinner and help my daughter with homework, those two flavors blend well enough as to allow the activities to overlap and occupy the same time slot. However, helping her study for a test requires my full attention (the greens) and must be separate from everything else.
If you have a moment to examine my little pie chart titled “Not enough hours in a day” you will see that on a good day, work would be the “Greens” of my day. It would eat up a lot of undivided time and attention, and that is with getting off at my designated time, which again was not the norm. At the close of my day you see that my Plate already is not balanced, and in life there isn’t much you can do about that, so I had to abandon the theory of balance and actually manage the time I had left to the best of my ability.
That small slice of orange was typically the waking hours I had left to spend with my children before it was time for them to go to bed. Yup, that was it! A measly 3 hours was all that they got after 14 hours of my absence throughout the day. It took creating the pie chart for me to really grasp the full scope of how crucial time management really is and how to prioritize the time that I do have to ensure that my children get all that they deserve of me. But HOW do I do this and not have my house look like a laundry bomb exploded and a hurricane of toys ran through the main floor? I still don’t have an answer for that. Maybe try and fit it in to the grey time slot, after a full day, and then time with my children, dinner as a family and catching up on conversations with my husband (because for the love of mankind I need this, a sensible adult conversation from someone who gets me) at the end of the day. Thankfully a lot has changed since I first created that pie chart, and I am working more and more on reaching goals I set for myself and my family, but with all things there is room for improvement and I have a ways to go before I am where I would ideally like to be. Oh, and I almost forgot there is sleep. Yes, that illusive little sucker that seems to slip through the cracks like sand. That slice of my pie is a dream, better yet, it’s a goal that I continue to work toward to try and get that amount of sleep. I haven’t reached that yet either because I am still working on my balance time management.
Now on to this Self-Care idea that graces the pages of every magazine and is constantly popping up on my Pinterest feed. For the love of hot baths, how do people find the time for the kind of self-care that I keep seeing heavily promoted? What does self care mean to you? I would love to know. Self-care has become a very transient being in my world, when a quiet ride in the car with the windows down and the radio off is about all that I am able to manage. Would I love to have a legit regimen? I sure would, but I am still working on that balance prioritizing my time to make that work. It’s a goal of mine for 2019 and I think I still have time left in the year to figure that out.