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Life-Work Balance

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Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the elusive life-work balance.

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I am sure this is not a surprise to anyone who regularly reads my blog, but I am highly goal oriented.  Love, love, love to set and achieve goals.  I have always been like this and probably always will be.  Being so Type A is a blessing and a curse.  A blessing in the sense that I can get shhh done, if you know what I mean.  A curse in that I can get way too wrapped up in the details or feel like a failure if I’m not checking items off a To Do list.

 

Having a baby causes you to redefine your entire existence.  I knew this would happen but couldn’t really appreciate the depth or extent of the change until it happened to me.  For so long, my entire world revolved around, well, myself and my own desires.  That is rather convenient, especially when it comes to goal achievement.  Now, there is another person in that mix that depends on me.  Henry’s desires are faaaar more important than mine.  But that doesn’t mean my desires have entirely disappeared.  I am still the same me in so many ways. 

 

More and more, I have noticed myself thinking, “Damn, there are just not enough hours in the day!”  And it’s so true.  There are so many things that I need and want to do, and more often than not, by the time 8 PM rolls around, I’ve only tackled half of the needs and none of the wants.  At first, I thought this was a byproduct of the newborn stage, but now I realize that this is just parenthood (and I accept this reality – a small price to pay!).  But again – I am still the same me.  I want to find time to… well, certainly not ‘do it all,’ but to do life better… more balanced.

 

Here are some questions that have been bouncing around my mind lately:

 

What does it really mean to have a life-work balance?  (Actually, I should call it a life-work-family-fitness-sleep balance.)

 

How do I define myself?  How do my actions support those definitions?

 

Which of my personal goals matters the most?  If I have to choose between running and writing in my one spare half hour, which should I pick?  Should I swap them every other day or devote myself more fully to one goal?

 

How the hell do I set achievable goals in this new version of my life?  What does achievement consist of?  If I can’t meet my old work/fitness standards because of greater responsibilities at home, how can I redefine them so I feel successful?

 

What can I put off until the future?  What projects should I really tackle right now?

 

What makes me the happiest?  When do the ends justify the means in terms of time and effort spent?

When should I push through feeling unbalanced in my life-work to hit goals?

 

What kind of balance am I seeking, anyway?  Is a life-work balance one in which you spend equal energy on both?  What happens when your work feels like part of your life and vice versa?

 

Are there negative forces and people in my life that can be handled in a healthier way?

 

How has my concept of balance evolved as I have grown as a person?  Can I use past lessons to figure out the best solution to my current conundrums?

 

No grand conclusions here, but I would LOVE for your thoughts on your evolving journey to achieve balance.  I really believe that ‘having it all’ is a falsehood, and it’s more about shaping our lives to maximize our own happiness.  But that is easier said than done!

{ 88 comments }

 

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  • Claire @ Live and Love to Eat October 16, 2012, 2:11 pm

    I feel like I have a great balance right now of work, “me time” (aka exercise), time alone with my husband, and time with our families/friends. Throwing a baby into the mix would make it a thousand times more complicated, so check back with me in a year or two. ;)

    Reply
  • Cara @ I Don't Believe in Diets October 16, 2012, 2:13 pm

    I love the idea of all of this. I find it hard to achieve a lot of my goals without a child. Even achieving work goals can often interfere with my personal ones. I look forward to hearing everyone’s responses.

    Reply
  • Jenn October 16, 2012, 2:24 pm

    I like to look at Work/Life Balance as Work/Life Harmony. Balance suggests that they are equal, which in most cases, it is not:-) I think as long as you find time for the things that are important, it harmonizes.

    Reply
    • Margaret October 16, 2012, 2:50 pm

      That’s a great concept!

      Reply
  • Amy October 16, 2012, 2:24 pm

    All great questions Caitlin! I too love my lists for work, but I tend to be much less organized when it comes to life and just go with the flow.

    Reply
  • Beth @ Beth's Journey October 16, 2012, 2:26 pm

    Work-life-sleep-fitness-etc balance is one of the hardest things to achieve in life. I do think that through major life changes, priorities and goals need to be adjusted and re-prioritized. One thing I wanted to mention is, with a new baby, you are getting a lot more movement than you probably did before. I recently learned in reading research that people who go to the gym 5x a week but don’t move much during the day are actually more sedentary than those who make active choices throughout the day, because those add up more than hitting the gym for 30 mins – 1 hour. I had never really thought about it that way before.

    So, all I’m saying is that while accomplishing actual exercise might be a stretch at times, do realize that your movements and decisions throughout the day are adding up, and carrying around a baby and chasing him when he starts crawling/walking really make a difference in your overall level of activity!

    Reply
  • Jennie October 16, 2012, 2:34 pm

    Someday in the near-ish future we’ll have kids. Right now I can’t really imagine life with a baby. I work full time + another part time job to make ends meet and I am not as consistent with working out as I would like to be. I would say I’m in between a type A and B person. I always feel this huge pressure to be productive and get as much house cleaning/work out/food prep/family activities as I can do in my one day off. So, in reality, it’s a rarity that I just sit and do nothing on a day off. I feel guilty and lazy if I do this. My husband seems to have no problem at all with taking time to relax for himself. He reminded me the other day that I don’t have to constantly be doing things and that it’s fine if the house is a little messy or I stay in my pajamas the whole day. I see what he means, but I guess I’d much rather feel a sense of accomplishment than guilt. I guess I just need MORE time off, so I can use part of it to do things I need to do around the house AND time to watch old episodes of friends in my lounge pants. How do I get more free time? That is the question.

    Reply
    • Julie October 16, 2012, 3:12 pm

      This is exactly me, too. I work two jobs and am going back to school to be an RD (I’m taking one 4-credit pre-req and apply for my program in January). I totally wrestle with sitting still as I feel like I should be cleaning/cooking/laundry-ing all the time I’m not at work or school to keep up the house. My husband, who also works two jobs (the main one finally landed after he committed to the first part-time one, but the part-time one will be over by Thanksgiving), has no issue with sitting around ALL WEEKEND while I’m at work and cannot even get the dishwasher unloaded. Now, to be fair, he did cook and clean up dinner the other night, so he’s not totally useless, but he can rest/relax much better than I can. His point of view is that it’s okay if the house isn’t clean all the time, since hanging out in front of the t.v. together after dinner is much more important. I’m also wrestling with getting more alone time, but both jobs are understaffed and I would like to make a bit of savings toward school while I can…and I just can’t do it all. So, working out has taken a back seat, even though I found an awesome yoga class and I have free pool access. I started going before class when the semester started, but more sleep has taken priority! AAGGHH! What to do?!

      Reply
  • Annette@FitnessPerks October 16, 2012, 2:37 pm

    That’s the beauty of life–an ever evolving balancing act! I think I just try my best to put the most important ‘stuff’ first, and then throw out the needless junk. I always make sure to have exercise, my husband, my faith, my job, my family all as priorities, with the side note of having some ‘me time’ or date nights, and then I go from there. :)

    Reply
  • Natalie @ Free Range Human October 16, 2012, 2:37 pm

    I have absolutely no idea what it’s like to have to balance all of this with a baby, but I, too, feel like I sometimes fall into the trap of “not enough hours in the day”. For me, it’s all about priorities, and sometimes that means I have to make myself and my health a priority over other factors in my life. It also means that there are times when I get to the end of the day, and I have to accept that not everything got marked off the To-Do list and be ok with that. Trust me-I am very Type A as well so that’s a hard one!

    Reply
  • Lauren Jamison October 16, 2012, 2:39 pm

    I’ve struggled with this a lot lately. I am an Air Force officer’s wife so in addition to my part time job, keeping our house and lives running (so I can actually spend weekends enjoying time with the husband rather than cleaning or running errands), and working out, I’m also expected to volunteer at organizations on base and participate in the spouses’ club. In all reality I SHOULD have time to put towards the spouses’ club since I don’t have children yet and only work part time, but to me, working out during the week is important, but I always feel as though it isn’t a credible reason to give when I tell them I can’t do something they need.

    I seriously am having a hard time even contemplating adding children to the mix!

    Reply
    • Marissa@ohhhsolovely October 16, 2012, 9:49 pm

      i feel the same way, lauren! i, also, do not have children yet. i work as a full time teacher and i constantly struggle with having enough time to accomplish everything. i often wonder how in the world i am gonna do this with children? i’ve worked this rather demanding job for the last 4 years, and i’m seriously contemplating cutting down to part time next year. i just need more time to take care of myself, my husband, my house, etc!

      Reply
  • Jessica @ Health Over Heels October 16, 2012, 2:49 pm

    I hear ya on this! I don’t even have kids yet, but I grapple with finding enough time and often feel like I’m not doing enough, or doing well enough. One thing I often have to remind myself – while you can do it all, you can’t do it all at once. There are seasons in life, and that is ok. Sometimes you have to let go of certain things temporarily, or find a new balance that works. It is always a challenge, but its all in how we look at it – the struggle can either be an annoyance, or a sign that we are growing.

    Reply
  • abby October 16, 2012, 2:51 pm

    as a mom of a 2.5 boy and a new mom to a 4wk old boy this is my look at it. One piece will always be lacking. In other words, if you are focusing on training for a race, your housework/writing may need to suffer for a bit. You cant keep all your balls in the air with a baby;just isnt possible. So realistically do what you can everyday realizing (which you’ve done a good job of) that old catlin is no more; instead you are something better which is mom! for instance, right now 4wks pp, my house is soooooo dirty for me and yes it drives me nuts but i know during my small window i HAVE to sit down a rest since i get very little sleep. And when i get my clearance to excercise i will have to keep the same mind frame; sometimes sleep/ date nite, etc will be more benefical to myself and family than going for a run.

    Reply
  • Morgan October 16, 2012, 2:52 pm

    I feel like we live similar lives… our husbands are both business owners, we are both writers who work from home and both have children under the age of 1 and don’t have a nanny.

    I completely struggle with the work/life/sleep/fun balance. Even more so now that my daughter is almost walking and getting into EVERYTHING. she also is down to just one nap a day (and doesn’t sleep through the night) so my spare time is limited.

    I’ve had to re-evaluate what’s really important to me. I used to put exercise, reading and cooking above mostly anything else. now those things are at the bottom of my to-do list, and I’m actually okay with that. I manage to work out 2-3 times a week. They are short workouts, but again, that’s okay with me. I still cook but it’s nothing fancy, and reading only happens if I’m not so exhausted when I crawl into bed.

    My big goals have turned into to keeping my house in order, making sure my work is done, making sure my daughter is healthy and happy, and making sure my husband and I still connect romantically. They aren’t anything major, but this is my life now and I’m happy with that!

    Reply
    • Brittnie (A Joy Renewed) October 16, 2012, 9:26 pm

      Morgan – this is a great response. I am in the same boat and totally understand your shift in perspective/shift in goals. Right there with ya!

      Reply
  • angela October 16, 2012, 2:54 pm

    I was told by someone wise that balancing things in life will make you insane because things may have more value than others and lots of other things. Instead of finding balance, find out what your priorities are and measure it by that.

    My teachers blog is georgeclerie.wordpress.com

    Check it out. Insightful!!

    Reply
  • Anna October 16, 2012, 2:55 pm

    The most important factor is that I need my sleep, then comes studying in class where I try to take part – saves me time later. I make my family a priority – lunches, dinners, TV, we are usually at least in the same room. Then comes running and friends and blogging. It helps me to have a timetable and I definitely take my time off for myself only.

    Reply
  • Sarah @ Yogi in Action October 16, 2012, 2:59 pm

    I LOVE this conversation! I definitely feel the pull of trying to balance everything, and I don’t even have kids.

    I’ve really been struggling with this concept of balance lately, as I work full-time and just finished also going to school part-time. I was anticipating having all this extra time now that school’s over but somehow I feel as busy as ever! I keep imagining that one day I’ll have more time where I can balance working out, relaxing, working, and having a relationship- but somehow it never seems to happen.

    The best that I do now is try and stay really organized, pre-plan out my week for meals and days to exercise, and try and plan 1 day a weekend where my boyfriend and I just relax at home. It doesn’t always happen but it’s glorious when it does!

    Reply
  • Allison October 16, 2012, 3:02 pm

    There is no such thing as real balance, but I will say this. When I look back to when my kids were really little (they are now 12 and 9), I wish I had spent a little more time on me! I should have let my husband do a little more of the child care…he would have if I had asked or, you know, just said “I am going to the gym, you are in charge”. I should have let go a little more and taken care of me just a little more. I am finding that balance but it is a lot easier now when they want to be left alone (not alone – by themselves, but alone as in ‘please stop bugging me’). There are work sacrifices no matter what…either you give up work entirely or you make choices. But if I had to go back 12 years ago, when my mother came over to see my son, I would have said “have some bonding time, but back in an hour.”…I just didn’t let go enough.

    Reply
    • Leah October 17, 2012, 8:51 am

      A great reply!! I’m about to have my second child in a couple of weeks and I am definitely going to remember this!

      Reply
  • Kathleen Ojo @ Onward; Inward October 16, 2012, 3:03 pm

    I’m very much a type A person as well, and for the first month after my daughter was bored I was completely overwhelmed and didn’t know how I’d ever “do it all.” All for me means keeping up a fitness routine (training for a half marathon in 6 weeks), taking good care of my family, working on my MBA (taking 3 classes this quarter, god help me), and returning to a 40 hour per week office job in late November.

    What’s weird though? I actually feel MORE balanced right now than ever before. It think, before I had a baby, all my priorities were conflicting. Do I go for a run or do that assignment? Do I catch a nap or start making dinner? Having a baby forced me to prioritize my priorities, haha. #1 is my baby, of course. #2 is taking care of mySELF, which includes getting enough sleep and training for a race, because if my body and mind are not in a good place then I am useless to everyone else. #3 is taking care of my family as a whole, including my marriage, and luckily I have a great husband who helps me with this one. #4 is school.

    Some days, I can take care of all 4 priorities and feel like a superwoman. Some days I can take care of my baby, get a decent night’s sleep, and start dinner before my husband gets home, which is awesome. Other days I am a hot mess and barely get off the couch, but my baby is fed, napped, bathed and smiling, so it’s still a win. And you know what? I’m getting by in school, my marriage is strong, I’m on track for my half-marathon in December, and I am NOT stressed about any of it.

    I’m a bit scared to add a full time job back into the mix, but I know it will work itself out in the end. I found out that by letting go of the need to be “perfect,” I actually get a lot more done and with a much better attitude. You’ll find what works for you – but in the meantime, you seem to be doing great!!!

    Reply
  • Abby October 16, 2012, 3:06 pm

    The questions you pose are exactly what I am asking myself. I am 37, didn’t get married until 34 and now have a 20 month old daughter and a 7 week old daughter. I am also a SAHM, and do some daycare on the side. I was one who worked out a lot, did marathons, triathlons, etc. now my workouts consist of running after my daughter, lots of playground fun, and lots of walks! I look at my life and know our girls are not going to be little forever, the time goes by so fast. I want to be there for them now . The races, gym workouts, work outside the home will be there in a few years. At the same time I want to be good role models for my girls and be active and show them how to set goals and accomplish them. So I guess I try to live in the moment and ask myself what I want my legacy to be. For sure my girls, our family, and what comes after that is still in the works!
    You are doing an awesome job from what I see on this side of the blog! Healthy family, active, new projects in the works, and a beautiful child!

    Reply
  • jasmine, bama + ry October 16, 2012, 3:11 pm

    I struggle with this all the time. I’m a working artist with a day job. I run a business in all the crevices of my day and also from the moment I get home until the moment I go to bed. I struggle with finding time to be a wife, daughter, friend. It can be very challenging to tackle your dreams while trying to maintain the many roles we have.

    Before we lost the twins, it was something I thought about a lot. I mean, twins! How would I ever do anything again, I wondered? What would I let go of and what would I keep? I feel like these kinds of things actually help you to prioritize. That’s why I went after my jewelry business. I realize it was important for my happiness now and in the future.

    What is important? Really important to your happiness? The rest… will just have to settle on the back burner for a while, yes?

    xo

    Reply
  • Katie @ Talk Less, Say More October 16, 2012, 3:12 pm

    I don’t have the addition of a little one in my life, but I too often find the work-life-school balance to be rather difficult at times. So I totally get the Type A blessing and curse! For me, I know that maintaing fitness is one of the most important things because it often affects my ability to handle stress as well as many other things.

    Reply
  • Nadine October 16, 2012, 3:21 pm

    Would it be possible for you to get help for a few hours a week to allow you to have time to accomplish other goals? I know being able to take care of a child full time is a gift. But maybe you need more time to be able to do your job, then the other time becomes about balancing running, cleaning ect.

    Reply
  • Shannon October 16, 2012, 3:33 pm

    I like how you declare your goals. Sometimes by actually thinking about them and listing them out, you are making a promise to yourself to be true to them. It’s easier to say, the thing I am doing is not fun or importnat to me, let’s refocus on the list.

    Reply
  • Emily October 16, 2012, 3:33 pm

    I’ve never posted on your blog but have enjoyed reading you for the last few months. I agree with Abby – there is no perfect solution for the working mama. I have two kiddies – 9 and 7 and I’ve done various permutations of work – stayed home full time for the first two years, worked part-time for 4 years and have been back working full time for the past 3 years. I don’t have balance, I work too much and miss the kids and they miss me but I don’t have a choice – my husband’s work is not as steady as mine and he’s the one who is their full-time parent. So I make the painful peace with my lot and still cry most Monday mornings when I head to work. I worry that I’ll be filled with regret when they are older and don’t want to spend time with me but I’m not in a position to change that for now. I need to feel good about setting a positive example for them as a hard-working mom, saving away for their college and still able to make (very rushed) dinner each night. All that being said, I joke with my girlfriends that if I had chosen the man with the trust fund, I’d work less but I wouldn’t change my life for anything. My husband is a gifted dad – patient and giving, mature and supportive. So my answer/message isn’t simple but do what’s right for you and your family, in partnership with your man and know that there will never be enough hours in the day to “do it all” and that you don’t have to. My kids love me even though I didn’t get to the gym today and wasn’t able to take them to school – I’ll still get big hugs when I walk in the door tonight.

    Reply
  • Christina October 16, 2012, 3:35 pm

    I understand how you feel to some extent. I don’t have a baby yet, but I do look forward to expanding my family. It is so difficult to prioritize priorities, isn’t it? It seems as though there is no winning formula out there.

    I feel like there is so much pressure on me to pour everything I have into everything I do. But, I only have so much to give, so there is always a loser. Sometimes the loser is my home, sometimes the loser is a friend, and sometimes it’s my job. More often than not, I am the loser because I am spread so thin.

    I recently had my best friend “break up” with me because I decided to celebrate my wedding anniversary instead of her birthday (they are the same day). How can you win in a situation like that? The outside world has no idea what is involved in our day to day, and many people take that personally.

    I think it all comes down to doing the best you can with what time you have available. Beating yourself up and feeling guilty about what you didn’t accomplish is a waste of energy. Reflect on what you have accomplished and feel proud, take time to think about all you are grateful for, and don’t indulge the guilt. I know this is easier said than done. Also, don’t be afraid to cut things out that no longer seem important to you. It’s okay to let go sometimes.

    Good luck and know that you are doing way better than you think.

    Reply
  • Kristy @ Kristy's Health Revolution October 16, 2012, 3:45 pm

    This is a great post, Caitlin, I’m definitely bookmarking it to come back to it. I, too, struggle with balancing everything (don’t we all!) Lately, I’ve been a little stressed because there is always so much to do, and there never is enough time for everything, but I don’t even have children yet! My wedding is still 11 months away, so it’s not even really on the horizon! But, having children is a huge goal of mine, so it’s pretty hard for me to not have the thought of, “If I’m this crazed now, how will I fit a baby into all of this!?”

    I guess I don’t have any concrete answers, but thinking about all of this is the first step to figuring it out, I suppose. We all just have to set our priorities and find a way to make them all a reality, but also not be too hard on ourselves if we don’t meet every single one.

    Reply
  • Jen October 16, 2012, 3:46 pm

    I’m struggling with a very similar thing right now. I just officially became a Working Mama yesterday when I started back to work after havings my little guy 9 weeks ago. I’m trying to think of it as having hit the ‘restart’ button, and as the week goes by seeing how it all shakes out. I’m very much type-A as well so I feel slightly overwhelmed by it all right now, but I think (hope) over the coming weeks things will work out.

    For example, we hadn’t found time to start back at working out so that ended up on yesterday’s agenda- even though I certainly would have rather rested after the long day. Also trying to figure out a pumping schedule has been a fun bonus with going back to work, but things look like they are coming together and it’s only Tuesday! Tomorrow’s another day and I’ll can do is it try right??

    Reply
  • Claire October 16, 2012, 3:48 pm

    I have a 10 month old, and my husband and I both have full time jobs, and I feel like life is pretty well balanced right now. There are a few things that contribute to it:

    1 – Having been VERY careful and considerate that everything was in place to have a baby before we started TTC – lots of money saved up, both of us in jobs where we have good benefits (including time off and sick leave), set and reasonable work hours, lots of family and parent friends nearby (including the amazing set up of having both our moms cover childcare when both my husband and I are at work), a healthy relationship (we’ve been together 10 years), lots of “bucket list” things checked off beforehand (tons of travel abroad, fun projects completed, house purchased, retirement accounts maxed, etc.). This was a HUGE benefit of waiting until our early 30s to have kids, instead of our mid-20s.

    2 – We only want one child, so our baby is far and away our top priority, since we know the time she will be little is SO fleeting. For me, I hate pumping at work, but I know that in two months she will be a year old and I will never have to pump again. For my husband, he is frustrated that he can’t do as many home reno projects during the week when he’s watching our girl – but he knows that in a few short years she will be in school and he will have a lot more time back. So we went into parenthood knowing that a lot of our fun projects would get seriously postponed.

    3 – Letting go of my type-A tendencies, and really embracing the much harder to define/harder to quantify accomplishments in life. No one on their deathbed ever said “I wish I spent more time straightening my house!” or “I wish I had written more to-do lists!” So many of the things that I thought were important pre-kid were SO superficial. Really, ALL that matters in life is spending time with people you love, and trying to do some good in the world. Everything else is superfluous. In the daily grind of life before I had my daughter, it was hard to remember that. But now, I drop everything the second I get in the door from work and do nothing but play with my daughter until she goes to bed. My house is a little messier, and I’ve only read 3 novels in the past year, I never work out except for going for long walks on the weekends, we only eat crock-pot meals these days, but I find that none of that matters now – I can’t imagine giving up that time with my daughter because I know that in the long run, that is what really matters.

    Reply
  • Rachel October 16, 2012, 3:56 pm

    For me, the answer was to cut back. I still do everything I have always done, but I feel like since I have cut back I can do everything well instead of feeling like I was failing at everything I was doing. So…I work part time instead of full time, train for half marathons instead of full marathons. This allows me time to keep a clean house, cook healthy food for my family, volunteer at my kids school, get them to practice, rehearsal…basically care for my family.

    While I was helping in my son’s kindergarten class today they were singing a song about compromise. They sang…we both get a little of what we want. This is what works for me. I can do a little of all the things I want or I can feel overwhelmed and worn down trying to do all of everything I want. It is my life/work compromise.

    Reply
  • Kendra @ My Full-Thyme Life October 16, 2012, 4:08 pm

    This is a great exercise for people to do! At my company we call it “blueprinting” and it helps to identify what you are the most passionate about and how you can shape your life around those passions. I also wanted to point out how lucky you are to have this “problem” with the work/life balance. What I mean by that is you very clearly have a career that you love vs a job that you “get through.” When you have a career that you love there is literally not enough hours in the day and you don’t always feel like you are working. When you have a job that you “get through” time can’t move fast enough and you constantly struggle with not being fulfilled and you are left wondering how you can get away from the job and find the career. Does that make sense?

    As for finding the work/life balance… That can get tricky. Everything in our lives requires we give 100% of ourselves and when we are stretched too thin something or someone always gets the short end of the stick. I struggle with this balance every day as a working mom but I also find it becoming more manageable as I continue to learn my boundaries, as I learn to ask for help, and as I know when to take timeout for myself. I can’t say I’ve found the balancing act becomes easier, just more manageable. And I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world!

    Reply
  • sarah (the SHU box) October 16, 2012, 4:19 pm

    all great questions – and i agree that the elusive ‘all’ is sort of a silly construct. i also think that just by taking the time to think about these things, you are doing things with an intentionality that will serve you well no matter what your actual choices are. i have actually been amazed at how LITTLE i have to let go of with a baby. i certainly have to scale things back and am nowhere near as well-rested, but i am so HAPPY with life as a working mom to a 6 month old. life is busy, but it’s FULL, and i still manage some downtime. i’m sure it gets much harder with each new addition but we will also be more experienced as moms — and as people!

    you seem like you are doing great, and henry has two very devoted and caring parents!

    Reply
  • Ali October 16, 2012, 4:20 pm

    Great post! One thing that I find helps me is to try to distinguish between the ‘urgent’ and the ‘important’. So often I get tangled up dealing with the ‘urgent’ (a deadline tomorrow, a bathroom that must be cleaned, etc) that I lose sight of the ‘important’ – those longer-term goals that need tending to on a regular basis. Is going on a run right now absolutely urgent? No. But is it important? If yes (if I’m training for something, for example), then the run wins. Likewise for quality time with family (urgent? no. Important? HECK YES.) I try to take some time every day to do something that falls into the ‘important’ category, and I find it helps with my stress, guilt, etc.

    Reply
  • Ali October 16, 2012, 4:24 pm

    …Sorry, should have specified – lots of people have written about this, for example: http://www.businessofdesignonline.com/time-management-prioritise-2/
    But I find it helps to stretch the idea to personal life, too (not just business)!

    Reply
  • Becca October 16, 2012, 4:26 pm

    Great post – and I’m enjoying the comments, too! I’m pregnant now and thinking about how to balance and there seems to be no easy answers. Yikes! Undoubtedly, sleep is sacrificed during these early years, but sleep deprivation makes every component of life seem worse. Your marriage is such an important priority, and if that falls by the wayside, you’ll have a hard time as a mother and a professional. And, of course, for heartwarming, life-changing and simply logistical reasons, the baby is number one! I’d think that you’re best equipped with a great amount of patience in yourself, a willingness to constantly recalibrate to suit the changing circumstances and the knowledge that life is long and the pendulum will swing back in time. Keep it up! Henry is a beautiful little one!

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  • Laura October 16, 2012, 4:33 pm

    I scrolled through the earlier comments, and I can totally relate to this as well! This seems to be a constant mental struggle for so many women in so many different life stages. I talked about this recently with my husband, and he sympathized, but he views his accomplishments so differently. He told me he feels it is a total victory to mow the lawn, or pay bills, or wash a dog. He and I are both type A personality with our own businesses. Yet I feel like cooking meals, washing dishes, running errands and doing laundry are just givens that should be accomplished in my day in addition to my work.

    I think as women, we need to give ourselves a break and embrace the season of life we are in. We should pat ourselves on the back for all we do accomplish, rather than all we still have left to do. Sometimes I wish I kept a “done” list rather than a “to do” list. Lol.

    Caitlin, you are awesome & you should take a moment today to give yourself that pat on the back you deserve. :)

    Reply
  • Katie @ Peace Love & Oats October 16, 2012, 4:47 pm

    This is a great post and I like that you’ve really thought through it. I’m at a time in my life where I need to ask myself these questions. I’m in my last year of law school and feeling a bit depressed because I don’t want to be here. I’m set on getting my degree and taking the Bar exam, but getting through this year is rough, I’d rather focus my time on other things like running and my blog. And then the big question – what am I going to do in August and WHERE am I going to take the Bar exam!?!? No idea… not one…

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  • Jill October 16, 2012, 4:52 pm

    Don’t use the “B” word – “balance” – it doesn’t exist and it’s too easy to feel as though you have failed if you don’t balance everything equally. Working full-time with a 2 and 4 year old is helping me learn this the hard way. Instead, I strive to remind myself to do my “best” (a better B word!) in any given moment.

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  • Marlène October 16, 2012, 4:54 pm

    My partner and I wrote out a timeline. We grabbed a sheet of 11×17 paper and drew two lines across it. One line we broke down into months (over three years), and the second one we broke down into years (over 20 years). Then we started naming goals (eg. Mortgage paid off, second pregnancy, WEDDING!, etc) and one by one we placed them somewhere on the timeline.

    After about 30 min we had an excellent roadmap to guide us through the next few years, and a more “high level” view of our long term goals.

    It made us realize that we can’t do everything all at once (if we want to reno the kitchen next year, then the wedding will have to wait till the year after).

    Though definitely a broader view than day-to-day goals, it gave us peace of mind and made us feel productive (focus on what we ARE doing rather than on all the other things we don’t have time for).

    Reply
    • Laura October 17, 2012, 8:35 am

      This idea totally appeals to me!

      Reply
  • Meredith October 16, 2012, 5:06 pm

    I have been going through this lately. My boyfriend and I just bought a house and I also just started a new job that has me working really long hours (I’m a teacher at a high performing high school and we are contracted to be at work from 7am-530pm, with a 30 minute commute). More and more I see myself reworking my goals. I try to have all my work done before I leave work, even if that means staying a little late, so that I can spend 100% of home time with my boyfriend. Months ago, before the new job, I signed up to run the Army 10 Miler. I’ve slacked in my training and I’m going to pay for it this weekend, but I’ve come to realize that, for the time being, I’d much rather do a short jog with him on weekends than spend 2 hours running without him. Priorities have shifted, but that is what makes me a balanced adult. For now, no long races (just short, fun ones!) and more time dedicating myself to being 100% present when I’m at home.

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  • Karen October 16, 2012, 5:12 pm

    My kids are 11 and 8 and I’m still trying to answer all those fanatastic questions you have up there. But I don’t mean for that to sound pessmistic! Things are in an everlasting state of flux. I think that the fact that you are aware of the situation and are asking yourself these questions means that you’re on the right track. Your mantra might be: I am willow; see me bend. Our precious little critters grow and change so fast that by the time you get a routine down at one age, their older and different and you have to change and adapt all over again. Do your best to keep your priorities in mind and go with the flow!

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  • Marci October 16, 2012, 5:20 pm

    I too am very organized and like to be in control. Now with a 7 month old, and for the past 7 months, I am always feeling very frenzied and hurried. I recently went back to work part-time, and still, I am always in a hurry to do something. Afternoons are rushed to get ready for the next day and play with baby, evenings are rushed to get my own things done and have time to decompress. It’s really hard to find time for everything!
    I even think I have it all under control right now, but it’s very busy. Even when it’s quiet, I feel like there is always something I can be doing.
    It’s hard! I think that’s just being a parent.

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  • eliza October 16, 2012, 5:27 pm

    I dont even have kids yet and I probably get more stressed out by smaller things than most mothers with newborns!! Whenever I get really stressed out and upset I always remember ” I am only human”. There is absolutely no perfect work/life balance and sometimes things just get messy. Its hard to realize but it is true!

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  • Leslie October 16, 2012, 5:37 pm

    Im expecting my first baby, so this has been on my mind lately! A more experienced friend gave me great advice, and described how she tried to get her head around this concept. First of all, think of it as work/life management, rather than balance. Secondly, think of all the things that you feel you need in your life: family time, work, exercise, phone calls with friends, etc. At some point, you could probably do all of these things each day if you wanted. Find a new timeframe: every three days, once a week, etc, for you to put in all the components that you need to feel whole. Some things might only happen once a month, and that’s ok. I’m a self-employed musician/instructor, and my husband is a grad student, so I know all about burning the candle at both ends to get it all done. But, in the end, I’d rather be a type A minus if it means I don’t beat myself up all the time. I admire you for asking the big questions, and trying to find a way to be peaceful with the life you’re living in this moment. And that is the other thing: everything is temporary! A solution you find now may not fit in the near future. Monitor and adjust; you are doing great :)

    Reply
  • Jen October 16, 2012, 5:42 pm

    This is just my .2 cents…but I think what you need to do to stop stressing is to become more grateful. I am NOT saying that you aren’t!! But most people (myself included) will start to stress, worry, get angry, think there’s never enough time, wish, want, etc etc etc…but they need to stop and realize just how God-danged lucky they really are.

    Consider yourself lucky that you have a healthy baby boy. Some people don’t. Or some people have 4. Consider yourself lucky that you have a wonderful husband. Many women don’t. Consider yourself lucky that you have the choice between a workout and writing…those are nice choices to have. And consider yourself lucky that you have a job you love. Some of us have to go work 10 hours a day at a job we hate…and still find the time to write after that or to get out for a walk after that – all while dealing with the stresses of working a job and living a life that is not really you. Stuck. Feeling like it’s never going to happen – this life we want. You. Are not. Alone.

    So. I personally have to approach it from extreme god-danged gratitude. Gratitude that I have eyes, ears and a beating heart – if only for one more day. When that happens…you may find you have just enough time…

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  • Hillary October 16, 2012, 5:44 pm

    This is something I think about all. the. time.

    I’m a teacher, a grad student, a bride-to-be who is planning a wedding (while in a long-distance relationship, no less). I have a lot of things I NEED to do (lesson plan, grade papers, work on my thesis, plan my wedding) and plenty of things I WANT to do (exercise, spend time with friends, family, and my fiance, read, SLEEP). My life-work balance is never, ever 50/50 (I think that’s IMPOSSIBLE), but I do what is best for me—and what is best for me is ever evolving. Some days I *need* to workout, or else I will explode with stress and frustration. Some days, instead of working out, I *need* to sleep. Sometimes a deadline trumps everything. It’s constantly changing.

    The one thing I never compromise on is carving out at least an hour a day for myself. This might be really selfish (and I don’t have children!), but I feel like, in order to function at my best level and not burn out completely, I need to do something for me every day. Whether that is running, reading my book, watching trashy TV, or going to bed early, that time is sacred, and it allows me to be my best self, as cheesy as that sounds.

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  • Jen October 16, 2012, 5:45 pm

    Also – this is still all very new to you! Having a baby in your life. It’s only been a few months so feeling and being this way is perfectly normal! Acknowledge that you are doing great and the BEST THAT YOU CAN AT THIS TIME IN YOUR LIFE.

    Reply
  • Becky October 16, 2012, 5:52 pm

    The local paper had a story on this very topic this weekend. http://m.jsonline.com/news/wisconsin/on-having-it-all-women-en74aod-173968151.html
    All we can do is give it our best shot. As long as we have our priorities in order, it will all work out.

    Reply
  • Elyse October 16, 2012, 5:53 pm

    Love this post and the comments! I think we all struggle with these issues and it’s so awesome that you’re providing a forum for people to talk about them. And for what it’s worth, you seem to be doing an amazing job in your many roles!!! The thing I love most about your blog is how real you keep it, so thanks for that. :-)

    Not sure whether you’ve ever read the blog A Practical Wedding, but it’s amazing (offers WAY more than wedding advice) and this post by the founder is one of my favorites and may help you now: http://apracticalwedding.com/2012/04/on-not-having-it-all-at-once/

    Reply
  • Maria October 16, 2012, 5:54 pm

    I feel like you took the words right out of my mouth, Caitlin. I am 6 weeks postpartum, have a mild case of postpartum depression, and I unexpectedly have to return to work tomorrow- I am left wondering how am I going to do it all? I’m having a hard time getting into my new role and trying to remember I am not superman. So, I am definitely looking forward to reading others’ comments and suggestions!

    Reply
  • Alexis October 16, 2012, 6:29 pm

    This post actually scared me to read — as I got further through the questions, my first instinct was to stop reading because it was a pretty big reality check on how much I’m living day-to-day right now. I know there’s much to be desired in my work/life harmony (stole that from another commenter, love it), but I realized I can hardly answer even 3 of the questions you listed, and I’m not hugely fond of the answers I came up with. While I’m trying to position this to myself as the kick in the ass I needed in order to quit losing the forest for the trees, I’m shocked and upset at how much I’ve been attending to the micro view of my life, and ignoring the macro.

    So, even though it scares me, thank you for writing this. Clearly I need a reality check.

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  • Kristen L October 16, 2012, 6:35 pm

    I think these are really important questions to think about. What do you want out of your life and what needs to be done to make that possible? What makes you happy? There are always a million could and should do’s with or without children. Now that Henry’s around, your priorities might shift, but you still need to follow a path that will make you, and your family happy and healthy.

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  • Ali October 16, 2012, 8:01 pm

    Work-life-health balance is something I am ALWAYS struggling with, especially since I started a new job in July that I am developing a program. It is intense. I don’t think I could do it if I had children or a husband because the job demands so much of my time. On the flip side, the job takes away from my ability to get out and meet people in my new town. I have been living here for four months and have not seen the inside of one restaurant in town after dark. Just trying to cook healthfully and exercise is all I have time for after very long days. It’s an ongoing struggle.

    On an unrelated note – I have those NB shoes! Do you like them? Now that I’ve had them a few months, I have been getting blisters on the bottom of my outter toes with those. That never happens with my fancier NB stabilizers so I’m not sure what’s going on!

    Reply
  • Sharon@DiscoverExploreLearn October 16, 2012, 8:06 pm

    It took me many years to figure this out, but I recently came to the realization that the idea of having a “balanced life”, must have been concocted by the same person who came up with the idea of being a “perfect mom” — both are myths, and both are completely unattainable.

    I think that, especially after having kids, there really is no way to “have it all.” I don’t think it’s possible to “balance” all of the demands of life equally. There will always be an area that takes up more time and energy than the others.

    At least in my experience , there is no way to get everything done in a manner that doesn’t leave something lacking. I think it all comes down to choosing priorities and managing your time effectively.

    As a single mom of 4 boys, I can (without a doubt!) say that there isn’t a day that goes by, that I don’t wish I had a few more minutes (or hours) in the day to check one more task off my list. Rather than dwell on the things I didn’t get done, I try to appreciate things I did accomplish.

    For me, I think it’s been a huge life lesson to accept the fact that (at least at this point in my life) I won’t have a balance. It’s just not possible, and I’m okay with that. It was actually a great stress-reducer for me to finally stop trying to find that balance.

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  • Alexandra October 16, 2012, 8:18 pm

    I’m a big believer of Trial and Error. The only way you can tell if something works for you balance wise is by testing it out. If it feels wrong, change it up and try something else. I think if we simply remember to Try something and see how it goes, it gives our lives a light and fun view. As long as we enjoy what we do and at the end of the day can smile, I think balance has been achieved. And this can look different every day.

    Reply
  • Courtney Leigh October 16, 2012, 8:20 pm

    I just started reading Sara Avant Stover’s book, ‘The Way of the Happy Woman’ and it definitely covers some of this. It’s interesting so far. You could take a gander at it, you know during all your free time. Hahaha!

    During a yoga class an instructor said, “Balanced does not mean symmetrical” and it really stuck with me. It’s very true. For a literal illustration I always think of a scale with a ton of feathers on one side and a ton of gold on the other. The scale would be perfectly balanced, but it certainly wouldn’t look symmetrical or equal.” So I think the answer to “Is a life-work balance one in which you spend equal energy on both?” is No, not unless you want it to be. But that’s the only one I’ve got! Ha!

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  • Anne October 16, 2012, 8:27 pm

    Wonderful questions, I just favorited this!

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  • Ellen @ Wannabe Health Nut October 16, 2012, 9:51 pm

    Well I have to tell you I think you are doing a fantastic job. You always impress me SO much with your productivity and organization. I’m not a mom, but I have been struggling with these same questions lately. I have a FT job, plus I work as a health coach “after hours” and on the weekends, and I blog too. :) I think it’s key to weigh how much something is WORTH IT. Ie, How much effort/time something takes vs. what do I get in return? I’ll take lower paying writing jobs that are easy for me to write and give me good exposure over higher paying jobs that are more labor-intensive. I think you should be a little more choosy and continue to do the things that make you happiest because all in all that will make you be a better mom and wife. Schedule in down-time, too, so you’ll actually take a break (without typing away on your laptop) and recharge your batteries-it will help you be more productive later!

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  • nancy October 16, 2012, 10:06 pm

    What a great discussion! Love reading what works for other people. In my experience, life/work harmony (love that term) changes with each season of life. My kids are now 13, 16 and 17 and I’m still working on it. I always strive to make my family my top priority. To me that means healthy meals (including packed lunches for everyone), a reasonably cleaned up house (I tend to obsess about that one) and making sure everyone has everything they need and gets everywhere they need to go. My husband and I are big supporters of letting our kids participate in whatever their passions are and sometimes that means going many different directions every day. Life with 3 teenagers is wonderful chaos. To be truthful, things have been so hectic the past couple of years that our marriage has suffered. We are now trying to set aside time once a month for a dinner out. I know that doesn’t sound like much but it’s the best we can do right now. I work on a very part-time basis and I am currently contemplating what comes next for me. I either need to commit to my current profession and get back into it full time or go back to a prior career or get back into school for the career I’ve always wanted. I’m staring down my 50th birthday so these choices are a big deal to me. We are sending our oldest off to college next fall so me producing more income will become important (I have largely been a SAHM for most of our child rearing years with only a year of part-time school and one year of full time work in there). I really fear that, once my employment hours increase again or I return to school full time, I will have no time for exercise or down time in general. I very carefully schedule that into my week now with my family’s support. My kids will arrange their school drop offs around my running schedule. I am fearful I will lose my exercise time and not have the time I need for my kids either. Not having enough time for my kids really makes me anxious. So I guess I’m saying that we all do the best we can given our circumstances and that we will always be growing and changing and figuring it out. What works today may need to be adjusted next week. So long as we feel like we are hitting our most important priorities most of the time and we have some measure of peace and joy I guess we’re doing ok.

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  • luv what you do October 16, 2012, 10:12 pm

    Your post came at the perfect time for me as I (not yet married or a mother but diving into my PT career) am re-evaluating what I give up to succeed at work and how much time I would rather be spending on myself, family, health, and relationships. It’s great to read through everyone’s comments. I think that this is always a challenge for women…espeically those of us (me included) who are so goal oriented!

    Reply
  • victoria October 16, 2012, 10:17 pm

    Man can I relate to this post. I feel that way and think a million similar questions often. I still don’t have many answers however! There is a interesting book on the subject though called 168 hours You HAve More Time Then You Think ny laura vanderkamm. I found parts of this book unrealistic but I will say it did motivate me to prioritize my days time better then I had been previously. Can’t say that it has last fully but it does still sit with me in my mind and help me to get back on track.

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  • Claire October 16, 2012, 10:58 pm

    Embrace the imperfection. I’ve worked full-time as a high school teacher, completed a Masters, I’ve worked part time, I’ve been a SAHM over the lifetimes of my three, soon to be four kids and each time I thought that some other option would provide me with more time, space, balance, whatever. It doesn’t. Nothing is perfect. Get done what needs doing, carve out a little time to do what makes you happy and spend less time dwelling on the balance/googling the balance/talking about the balance and more time living life.

    Teaching a lot of post-natal yoga, I see new Mums battle this all the time and to be honest, it’s the constant dialogue and constant desire for some elusive balance that is throwing them out of balance in the first place. So much noise in the brain, too much access to information/other peoples opinions etc. I realise this comment is ironic in light of the fact that I am commenting on a post to some random stranger but I really do feel strongly about this. Turn off the computer, the twitter feed, the phone, unimportant third parties etc, amazing how many more hours you’d find.

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  • Stephanie October 16, 2012, 11:26 pm

    I’ve only been out of college and in the working world for 18 months and I have no idea how to do it all. I think it really is just really good planning and realizing you ‘can’t do it all.’ I have daydreams of being super organized at home with a family, relaxing on the couch with dinner in the oven and a workout complete with my husband. It will probably be a far cry from my real truth, but one can dream, huh? Thanks so much for putting these thoughts out there for all of us to see and discuss. :)

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  • CJ @ Fill the Well October 16, 2012, 11:39 pm

    I’m also going through a struggle for balance…certainly not quite so stressful as having a newborn, but with maintaining balance now that I’ve started working from home and taking care of family members. It’s been much harder to tend to the other areas of my life when I “could always be working” or doing things for my family. I appreciate these questions so much.

    My biggest effort right now is just to live INTENTIONALLY – carefully examining the choices I am making with my time and energy to make sure they are in line with what makes me the most myself. This doesn’t answer all the questions, and it doesn’t add more time to the day. But it helps me make my own choices as much as possible instead of having them made out of distraction, convenience, or habit.

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  • julia October 16, 2012, 11:55 pm

    Right now my life largely consists of maintaining a happy marriage, caring for my kids, and then spending time with our immediate families and our church activities. I also teach writing courses on a very part time basis.

    I have two kids under 3, and only recently did I decide exercise was a non-negotiable priority. It is the only time I have to my self any given day.

    I’m also a nut about a clean home and from scratch meals, but clean clothes, food, and being happy trump clean… Until I can’t take it anymore and clean in a maniacal frenzy.

    Kids have a way of prioritizing life for you. With my first son, we could go anywhere and be out all day and night. My youngest must be home several days a week and goes nuts if we’re out too much. It’s slowed me down in a good way. We get the kids we need, and they get the parent they need. Thank God for that.

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  • Sarah @climbinvegan October 17, 2012, 1:59 am

    I’m struggling with this myself today…. More towards college and major decisions. I can’t wait to read all these comments… I feel like they will help me as well. I don’t have an answer really, but thought I’d let you know you aren’t alone.

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  • Sara @my less serious life October 17, 2012, 6:37 am

    all i know is that achieving this ‘elusive’ balance as you call it (which is such a great way to say it!) is something you have to constantly work at. especially for those of us with a Type A personality!!

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  • Emily October 17, 2012, 6:54 am

    Finding balance seems to be a life-long goal, and one that is always changing to meet our current needs! I’m the mom of twin boys, 4.5 years old, and have been working on balance as well. I’m very goal oriented as well, but I find that I’m much better off setting daily or weekly goals (usually just 1!) than long term goals now. Some days I need to be productive and cross things off my to-do list, so I make that a priority, other days I feel I need to connect more with my kids so I decide to do something extra special with them, or make a point to be okay with the piles of unfolded laundry. I’ve been much more content when I just look at the day at hand and look at my current needs than not looking at a pattern I’m in.

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  • Shannon October 17, 2012, 7:16 am

    You hit the nail on the head when you said that the trade-off of parenthood is never again having enough hours in the day. That does not change, because once you’re a parent, as you are experiencing, a.) someone else’s needs take priority, ALWAYS, and b.) there’s just a mountain more things to do/take care of/attend to than there ever was before you became a parent.

    But I will say, as the mom of 8 and 6 year old daughters, that what changes is your ability to handle and juggle all that. It does not feel as overwhelming when the children are 4 and 6 as it does when your first baby is 5 months old. I can promise you this. Adjustment to motherhood/parenthood is a PROCESS and a journey. The first year (at least) are all about thrashing around in the water trying to swim and not sink. Yes, even after the newborn stage. One of the most helpful things for a mom to do is what you seem to be in the process of doing—accepting this truth, this new reality. It requires a total mindset-shift, but once you’ve made it–which takes time–things become easier to handle.

    You’re doing great!

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  • Kim October 17, 2012, 8:05 am

    So glad you brought this up because it’s the main issue in our household right now. My husband & I both work full time jobs, I also have a part time job, and we are TTC. The past few months have been crazy with health problems on my end (related to the TTC) and it’s forcing me to take a step back and say out loud “this is not what I want” more often. I signed up for the Wine & Dine Half Marathon and the Disney World Marathon, and won’t be running either of them (traded with a buddy for the after party tickets instead), which is disappointing but REALISTIC – not gonna be huffing it 26 miles in the Florida heat with a bun in the oven (hopefully).

    Best short-term advice: Read the “168 Hours” book – I read the whole thing in an afternoon, would be excellent for a plane ride. The author is much like you (fitness oriented, stay at home writer mom, and also very intelligent like you) and I think you’d get a lot out of it. My big time-saver (read: life-saver) is listening to audio books in the car instead of sitting down to read them on the couch – excellent b/c the car is “me” time (not ignoring my husband to read a book), it’s safer than talking on the phone while driving, and more entertaining than Power 95.3.

    Also very helpful was making the “List of 1000 Dreams” (one of the activities in the 168 Hours book) – I know you’re a goal oriented woman and always looking to check the next thing off your list, but take a second to remember all the goals you have already accomplished: getting into college (remember how good that felt??), graduating from college, getting married!, getting preggers!, having a BABY!!, running lots and lots of races (didn’t you WIN one at one point?), making cool recipes for pancake truffles, quitting your day job & following your dreams, traveling to Europe… you’ve already done so much in 28 years, so maybe take it easy for a while and let Henry’s goals be your goals (he’s gonna have plenty). Cut yourself some slack :-)

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  • Allison@commitcomplete October 17, 2012, 8:40 am

    I am not a parent so I can not fully understand the juggling act you describe. I do know what it feels like when there is just too much to do and not enough hours in the day. My best advice is try to do one thing a day that is important to you and don’t harp on what you don’t have time for.

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  • Ki October 17, 2012, 9:08 am

    I love being home with my kids, but it can get crazy and I can get discouraged. I like to think of it this way: I wouldn’t trade this time in my life for anything…except more time. There’s no way around feeling that you’re not as on top of things as you could be. It’s bad if your unmotivated (because you’ll sit down and not get up) and it’s worse when you’re super motivated (because you’ll never get through everything) but at the end of the day, remember if you don’t enjoy how you parent, you WON’T enjoy how you parent, so don’t let your other goals get in the way of that.

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  • TiffanyS October 17, 2012, 9:22 am

    I’m attempting to write my masters final project about this topic with women in leadership. I think it is a huge struggle because we have guilt flying at us from ourselves, our partners, our children, and society to be and do it all. I hate that feeling that by choosing something for me (ex. working out) that I’m short changing my kids, house, hubby….
    I’m trying to start now while my kids are fairly small (3 and 6) to establish that mom needs her time away. Yes, I do work out of the home, but that is totally different from ‘me’ time. I think I’m a better mom/partner/friend when I do take time for myself. Yes, my house might look a little like a tornado just whipped through it, but in the grand scheme of things it isn’t hurting anything. If I do have down time, I prefer to take my kids on an adventure or go for a run with my girl friends than to clean. It will wait. Plus, the other people in my house don’t seem to notice the mess, so I guess that falls on me. Sometimes, I just need to remember that time is precious and not to freak out about everything. I just try to experience life to the fullest. It is a continuous process for sure this attempt at balancing all of our demands/wants/needs.

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  • Katie H. October 17, 2012, 9:24 am

    I agree with many of the previous commenters. But I would add that priorities should shift–that’s a natural part of life. Right now, I’m working full-time, with a part-time job that takes up a couple of evenings. I have some church commitments. But my priorities are my husband, and my fitness. Right now, I have the time to be able to say that. I have the time to run for 2 hours on a Saturday, and to spend an hour and a half at the gym some evenings. But next year (or the year after), when I have a baby? I can already tell those priorities will shift.

    I don’t think goals have to progressively get harder and harder. A goal is a goal, and pride should come from meeting that goal, no matter what it is, or what you’ve done in the past!

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  • Catherine October 17, 2012, 11:21 am

    Let me know whenever you need a babysitter for a few hours in the next couple of weeks. My husband & I need to get some baby experience in before Baby J arrives :)

    Reply
  • Ryan October 17, 2012, 12:56 pm

    Such an awesome post with amazing comments. I need to bookmark so I can get throught the rest of the comments.

    I thought when I left my corporate career to start my own business that I would have more “balance” and have more Me time….seems like I am still in the same boat trying to find that happy medium.

    keep us posted on the book you ordered!!

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  • Kristina October 17, 2012, 1:39 pm

    The best thing someone ever said was to stop talking about balance and start talking about choices. To me, reframing the ‘balance’ question in such a way made so much more sense. I feel that everyone talks about balance these days – which is fine. But I don’t know anyone who actually has a balanced life. Most people make choices with their lives and that then determines the so-called ‘balance’ of their life.

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  • Irina @ Chocolatea Time October 17, 2012, 2:01 pm

    I think everyone struggles with balance in life in some way or another. Personally, I’ve been having a very hard time balancing work and life and it’s really taken a toll on my well-being. If it’s not one thing it’s another, right? Thanks for a great post!

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  • Angie October 17, 2012, 3:06 pm

    Iwill try to distill my all-over-the-place thoughts a little. I think that the life balance is an ever-evolving process, and as time passes we learn more about ourselves and what our priorities are.

    Before I had kids, I worked at a VERY demanding but fulfilling job (many nights until 10 pm or later) and then decided to get a law degree so that I could advance in my chosen field, assuming all along that whenever we decided to have kids they would go to day care and I would continue on my career path. Midway through law school I had my first child (in the year 2000), and 3 more kids and 12 years later I have not worked full-time since. I have been fortunate to have found fulfilling work that is part-time and flexible and have had a number of excellent child-care providers watch my children part-time in my own home.

    In the year before I became pregnant with my first child, I also began a major focus on becoming healthier, as I was morbidly obese and basically sedentary before that.

    So, the morbidly obese driven young woman of 15 years ago would not be able to recognize the part-time worker/triathlete/mom of 4 I am today. Many days I don’t feel like I have the balance down right, but it is much better than when I worked ridiculous hours, never saw my husband and was eating myself into an early grave.

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  • Andrea October 17, 2012, 3:20 pm

    I kind of skimmed thru the comments, so don’t know if anybody brought this up already, but I felt like I gained a whole bunch of time when I stopped breastfeeding & pumping. You don’t realize how time consuming it really is to have to be home every 2-3 hours to “unload” until after you don’t have to do it anymore. And I hope it goes without saying that BFing is totally worth it and temporary and I’m just pointing out my experience and something you may have not thought of yet :)

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  • Amanda Perry @ Sistas of Strength October 19, 2012, 10:50 am

    It’s Friday and I am finally catching up on a few blogs from the week. I had a lot more life than work this week, but honestly it kind of stressed me out bc my to-do list just kept growing!!! It truly is amazing how much you wish for more time once you have a child. I’d like to say it gets easier, but I think it gets harder first because once Henry is moving all over the place and wants to play/read more you’ll want to spend even more time just living…not working. Looking forward to reading more about your journey!

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