So many blogs, magazines and influencers will preach their methods of how to find balance.
I’m here to debunk that whole category of content, because balance is something I’ve sought, desperately wanted and have finally come to accept is not possible. Not really, anyway. And I want to de-stigmatize the hot messiness of #momlife just a little bit, while sharing some tips for how to feel better about the best you have to offer on any given day.
I was speaking to our contributor, Alicia a few months ago about the “struggle juggle” of motherhood and she said something I absolutely loved… but also can’t completely remember so I’ll paraphrase. It was something along the lines of, “Balance isn’t possible. The key is accepting that can’t be the best at all of it at the same time. Some days you will be an amazing partner, some days you’ll be a reliable friends, some days you’ll be an incredible mom and some days you’ll be a badass businessperson… just never all on the same day.” SO TRUE! This balance everyone speaks about isn’t about keeping all the plates spinning at the same time in an even line… it’s merely managing to somehow keep them all in the air by whatever means necessary no matter how wobbly and uneven they get. That’s the real win. If your kids are alive and well, you have people who love you and you’re able to feed, clothe and shelter your family, you are winning. Take it! The icing on the cake is intuitively knowing what plate must come down a little bit for another one to rise on any given day. The cherry on top is trusting your gut and showing yourself compassion when you have to make that inevitable call. Easier said than done, I know.
I’ve never worked in a typical office or had a boss so maybe the analogy I’m about to share is way off kilter but bear with me. When I was talking to my therapist one week about my struggle to find is miraculous balance I kept hearing about and the guilt I felt when I let one thing slip while I gave my focus to another area of my life, she said “wow, aren’t we just the most demanding bosses to ourselves sometimes?” You often hear the term “our own worst critic” but this boss reference felt far better suited to the reality of the expectations we put on ourselves as people, but especially as moms. My inner dialogue isn’t often mean or critical per se, it’s just demanding as hell! If I was someone’s boss, I wouldn’t assign them 10 different major tasks in completely different categories and expect them to have them done and done well by the end of one work day! It wouldn’t be possible! So why the hell do I expect that of myself?
Here’s the truth, I haven’t found balance. Something in my life is being sacrificed daily, typically multiple times throughout a day.
Whether it’s the deadline I’m behind on, the e-mail or text that’s taken me three days to respond to, the hair that I’ve let go unwashed an extra day than is considered hygienic, that friend I haven’t checked in on in way too long, my kid who’s had far too much screen time than I’d like, my husband who I haven’t spoken to about anything other than who’s taking care of what around the house that day… something isn’t thriving at 100. But something is. And tomorrow, something else will get more of my attention while another gets the back seat. That’s okay. It’s called reality. As long as the give-and-take of it all evens itself out along the way, you’re doing alright.
The people on social media that you see doing it all whilst looking calm, beautiful, successful and happy all the time… well, they have help. Not “balance”. If someone takes a few of the plates over for ya, then yeah, they all keep spinning in tandem because you’ve got extra hands on deck doing the work alongside you. Nothing wrong with that at all but it’s a privilege that not a lot of people show or speak about so it makes the rest of us feel like we’re doing something wrong if we’re struggling to find this highly coveted balance so frequently mentioned. On the flip side, there should be no shame associated with having help! But the guilt of having help is a whole other suitcase of shit to unpack so I’ll leave it at that for now.
My tips for feeling your best amidst the imbalance of it all?
- Get help, if you can afford to and want to. No shame in the “do what you gotta do, mama” game.
- If help is not an option, I strongly recommend waking up before the rest of your house. This has been a mental game changer for me. I shared my 4:30am morning routine in this YT video so you can see what I get up to before the birds or family start chirping.
- Take a break. Whether it’s 5 minutes or 20 whole minutes, take a break if and when you need to throughout the day. I personally go for extended visits to the bathroom to sit on my phone behind closed doors and do nothing productive at all for a moment and it’s fucking great.
- If you have a partner that you are parenting with, talk to them. Tell them your needs. Ask them about theirs. Share responsibility so you don’t build resentment towards one another and feel like you’re carrying more of the weight on your shoulders. Allow each other time do things solo for yourselves and when you do, take that time and enjoy it. Don’t feel bad. Don’t worry about what’s not getting done. Focus on what you’re doing for yourself and let that be the thing that’s getting all of your attention in that moment.
- Give yourself a fucking break! Know that it’s okay if one area of life suffered a bit today so you could be over there focusing on another. Trust that you’ll pick up the slack tomorrow and shift and pivot again because that’s what we do and that is truly what “balance” looks like. Not perfection. Not everything thriving at equal levels of awesome all at once. That my friend, is what I call bullshit.
Shenae Grimes-Beech is an actor and YouTuber with a highly engaged community of like-minded women who are here to stand up for what they believe in and lean into discomfort, especially when it means doing the right thing.