Psst… I’m a serial juggler. I love variety. I enjoy life that’s full on. However, there’s a fine line between “full on and fulfilled”, and “overwhelmed and going overboard!” I don’t know about you, but that line refuses to stay still for me. It moves, daily, and sneaks up on me when I’m not looking.
But I wouldn’t swap that for anything. I love my children, my work, my husband, my friends, my clients, my community, my singing, my writing and my cooking (and eating – of course). I wouldn’t want to put any of that on hold. So I’ve learnt to juggle, and along the way I’ve learnt a few tips to stay sane (well most of the time anyway!).
Here are three of them:
Forget supermum. Be you.
Supermum has to be good at EVERYTHING. All the stuff your mum was good at? Yup, all of that, and all the things your friends’ mums were good at. Plus all the mums you’ve ever come across – in person, history or fiction.
And not just good, but perfect. Supermum doesn’t do mistakes. Doesn’t get things wrong. Doesn’t have off days.
Seriously? Can you imagine one person being an expert in every field of medicine, or sport, or business? Even experts get things wrong sometimes, so who are we to impose such standards of perfection on ourselves?
I decided a while ago that instead of perfection, I would aim to be “a good enough mum, most of the time, with intermittent lapses into hopelessness and brilliance.”
What that means for my time is, I no longer feel I have to do everything. I define my various juggling roles based on me – my strengths, personality, priorities and values. I choose what I focus my time on, and what I let go of.
What that means for my sanity is I know what I am, and who I’m not. It’s ok that I make mistakes and that I can’t do everything. Instead of letting guilt suck up my time, energy and attention, I focus on what I can do, what I’m great at, what I can learn and how to move on and make the most of what I do have. Not a bad lesson for my kids to learn either. Being human.
Balance isn’t an accounting act. It’s a dance.
If you’re trying to “balance” work and family like a set of scales, every time you spend some time on the work side of things, it tips the balance, and you think perhaps you should do something with the kids to “make up for it”. The same happens vice versa.
The problem is, the attention is always on the other side. When you’re working, your focus is on the kids, when you’re with the kids, your focus is on work. And that means you’re less effective in what you’re doing, less present and you enjoy it less as well.
Instead if you focus on what you do want, not what’s missing, you’re more likely to make it happen. Rather than think of all the things you’re not doing with your children for example, and talking yourself into a whole world of guilt, what do you want to do with them? How do you want to be enjoying your time? What’s important to you about the time you spend with your kids?
I prefer to think of it as a dance – when you dance, or when you watch a dance, there’s a rhythm and variety. Sometimes fast and furious, sometimes slow and elegant. It’s not a sequence of scientific, equally measured, uniform steps. It’s expressive, passionate and full of life.
Take time to recharge
Do you know what recharges you? Do you take time for it?
It might feel completely counter-intuitive, especially when things are busy, but sometimes the most productive thing you can do is to take some time out to recharge, re-energise and refocus.
That’s what keeps us going, restores our sanity, creativity, perspective, resilience and sense of humour. It’s what gets us producing our best work, giving and being our best, whatever we’re doing and whoever we’re with.
If you liked these tips you’ll love 21 Ways to Manage the Stuff That Sucks Up Your Time (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ways-Manage-Stuff-That-Sucks/dp/1937944107/), especially Way 17: Get a Grip on Guilt and Way 21: Choose Progress over Perfect.
Described as “truly a book for busy people”, “a life-altering read” and “perfect for life’s jugglers”, this brilliant little book is packed with simple, practical tips and techniques you can put to use straight away, to help you manage the stuff that sucks up your time, and have more time for what really matters to you.
Grace Marshall is a juggling mum, life and business coach, productivity ninja and writer. She is passionate about her family, friends, business, clients, faith and community. She is not a supermum, or a naturally organized person, but she is serious about getting things done. She loves helping busy people make the most of their time and their talent, and shares her tips, experiences and thoughts at http://grace-marshall.com/blog/
Disclosure – I received a copy of Grace’s book in exchange for posting this and I LOVE it….