When I became a mother, a working mother to be exact, I was convinced I would find the perfect balance. I would be able to manage my career in private practice while still having some days “off” at home. I felt grateful and blessed. I was convinced that “I had it all.” After all, I could take my daughter to Toddler Ballet, maintain a full work schedule, be the Kindergarten room mom, and travel for national conferences. Problem solved, if I could do it all I did not have to choose between work and staying home.
After about two years of my double life as stay at home mom and self- employed business owner, funny things started happening.
- I took my daughter for her wellness visit on the wrong day.
- I missed a meeting because I thought the day was February 12. It was February 19.
- I accidentally messed up my work schedule.
After digging deep and some significant reflection, I realized I was not living a balanced life at all. In fact, I was overextended and overwhelmed. I had mistaken balance for doing it all. I let guilt (oh the mama guilt!) and perfectionism drive me to believe I had to do everything under the guise of being balanced. Over time, I started to realize I could strive for balance by letting go of trying to achieve it. Instead, I accepted the fact that the pendulum will swing. Sometimes work will be more demanding and I will be home less. Other times, I can step away from work and be home more.
Letting go of the elusive balance and escaping guilt and perfectionism allowed me to choose where to put my energy most of the time. It also provided the freedom to say no and not chose everything all of the time.
What are some of your tips for managing flexibility and balance? How do you say no?