People often ask how I balance my life and each time I chuckle because I never really put much thought into it. I have always done whatever it is I wanted to do. Just this past year I was in the middle of starting a business; this included inventing a product, building and managing a website and working on product development, marketing and making connections (all this has been put on hold for the moment while my lawyer and I work on the legal stuff). I also started and now run a foundation that is going very well, make time for writing articles (this has been fun for me) while being a stay at home mom of two with no help (besides going to grandmas house on the weekends of course). My honest answer as to how I do it is, “I have no idea!” That, and “by the grace of God.” (I am not super religious but I do believe in a higher power that works with us as we go after our purpose but that’s not what this article is about).
If I had to narrow down my answer to one thing, it would be this. Take productive mini-breaks. We all have busy lives but if you set the time aside or squeeze in the time to do the things you want and enjoy you will accomplish much more. I am now seven months into my third pregnancy and finding energy to get through the day has been a challenge. In order to not go crazy on a day-to-day basis I take mini breaks and make them productive. I believe that is the key to having a successful day and in turn a successful week, month, etc.
I use to be a border line shopaholic. I would have these urges to shop and then go to the mall and waste time aimlessly looking for unnecessary things. My priorities changed with motherhood. Instead of looking for things for myself, I started looking for things for my kids, taking care of their needs instead of my wants. However once a shopper always a shopper, at least for me and now get my shopping therapy at the grocery store. Being there has become an escape, but I don’t just aimlessly shop. I try to be smart about it. Menus and new recipes are planned out for the week and only those things get put in the cart. For a special treat I look for healthy new things to try, like seaweed snacks or spirulina chips. This ‘retreat’ takes place when the kids are not too tired and enough snacks are packed and kept on hand to prevent them for asking for everything in kids sight.
The menu planning thing is great. It takes the guesswork out and saves you time when you know exactly what you are going to make. It requires a little bit of sitting down browsing through the cookbooks or online and making a list, but it’s worth it. A bonus for me and another thing about being in the kitchen is the invisible, ‘do not disturb’ sign that seems to pop up when I’m in there. This is the only time that my kids don’t demand my attention. Instead they grab their toys and play nicely. I think they know that mom is going to be making something good for them. Needless to say I have become rather creative in the kitchen and enjoy my time cooking, baking and experimenting.
Pregnancy has made me more in tune with my body. I now notice a direct relationship between what I eat and how I feel. When I eat healthy, my energy levels and my overall mood improves. And the days where I don’t eat healthy, I feel awful. I now make a conscious effort to eat lots of fruits and veggies and drink more water. It is not always easy, but certainly worth it. On days where I don’t feel like eating a salad, I get my greens by making a smoothie. I simply put it in a blender with some fruit or orange juice and drink it. So for example, I do apples, spinach, celery and orange juice. And for my kids its almond milk, natural peanut or almond butter, bananas and a handful of spinach. Their drink looks fun and green and they don’t taste the spinach, to them it’s a peanut punch milkshake.
Doing everyday activities these days require so much effort and when a task is finished I feel burnt out. Its like I have enough energy to do the daily stuff, like cook, clean, attend to my kids and no more. But when I force myself to do something physical, like take a walk, I feel energized.
It’s funny how that works. We need to expel energy in order to feel energized. So on a good day I try to exercise, otherwise I just take the kids out to the park or playground, for a walk.
Environment plays a huge role in creativity. When you surround yourself with good people, or place yourself in awe-inspiring settings, it rubs off on you. Think about when you travel to a new place and how good it feels to be in a different setting. It opens up your mind and gives you a different perspective. You feel refreshed and inspired. When I’m in need of a creative boost, I take the kids to the library or to a museum and if the weather is good we go to the beach, a garden, or to the zoo, wherever. The kids enjoy it and the effect it has on them is incredible.
Downtime is important. My son takes a good nap everyday, but my daughter refuses to nap, instead she takes ‘quiet time.’ During these times I write, make to-do lists, plan recipes, read, catch up on emails and phone calls, or check my facebook. I don’t like to waste time on facebook so I scroll through and if anything is worth reading I hit the save button and read at another time. Reading and writing is very relaxing especially when done on mornings, it’s a great way to start the day. (I need to get back into that routine, if I can get myself to go to bed earlier!) Lately I have been writing at different times in different spots, today I’m writing in an organic café while my husband spends time with the kids.
A balanced life will naturally lead to a more productive life. If you live a busy life take mini-breaks. Making You a priority is ok; it’s important for your wellbeing and for everyone around you. Take the time to relax and take care of your body and mind, and do a little bit of the things you desire everyday instead of waiting to do it at a later time.