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The Truth About Life Balance That I Wish I’d Known Sooner

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[1:03] Balance. We hear about it all the time. Whether it’s life balance, work balance, or even a balanced diet. But what does it really mean? 

I’m a bit of a word nerd, so I went ahead and looked it up in the dictionary. 

There are nine definitions for balance. Can you believe that? It seems even the wordsmiths couldn’t narrow it down succinctly. 

As I read through the definitions it became clear to me that there are really two main buckets that the other definitions fit into. 

The first is about equality. And it always makes me think of old timey scales that need to have exactly the right weight distribution on each side to level out. 

But the second category is all about steadiness. And, definition number nine: “mental and emotional steadiness,” seems especially suited to what we’re seeking in mom life.

So then I looked up the definition of steadiness, and I could have cried.

How many long hours, and days, and even years had I spent trying to figure out how to make equal time for work, and kids, and home, and my marriage – only to come up short again and again. Frustrated and wanting to give up because I was tired of failing as I chased the elusive “life balance.” 

Take a deep breath mama, because I’m about to breathe life into your motherhood – steadiness is regular, even, and continuous development. 

Oh my goodness, can I just tell you how those sweet words lifted a weight from my soul?

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So what does this look like practically?

[2:45] Living In Alignment

For me it meant being able to let go of the lie that I was failing my husband if my kids were in a season where they needed a little more support. Or believing that I couldn’t launch a business I knew I was being called into because it might mean less time for my family. 

As I thought about more about my new definition for life balance, another word started swirling around in my head; one that gives a whole lot more freedom than our perceived notions of balance: alignment.

What if instead of trying to make equal time for all the things, we focused on growth in a certain area of our lives for a season, while still watering and maintaining the areas that are already fruitful?

Okay, so this all sounds great, but what if you’re in a season where you feel like everything’s wilting and nothing is thriving? Again it comes down to alignment. You have to start at the top and decide which area to focus on first. Ideally that would be the place that has the greatest positive effect on all the others. 

[3:42] Start With Self-Care

My suggestion: when in doubt always start with self-care

When you’re at your best, everything and everyone else will improve as well.

But don’t overcomplicate it – sometimes we make things so difficult that we sabotage our life balance before we even get started.

In survival seasons, I prioritize waking up half an hour earlier than my kids to get some quiet time with God before my day gets crazy. Then I’ll take a 20 minute bath at the end of the day with candles and a good book. 

Starting the day at my best and ending it with calm and quiet go a long way toward making me more pleasant and productive no matter what the day ahead might hold.

Can you see how elevating this one area helps to bring steadiness and alignment to all the rest?

[4:45] Set Boundaries

Setting boundaries can be super hard. Especially if you’re a people pleaser like I am.

This has been so difficult for me, that sometimes I find it easier to isolate myself than to put myself in situations where I’ll eventually have to say no. 

But it gets lonely, and miserable constantly keeping people at arms length rather than setting healthy boundaries that allow real, life-giving relationships. 

And people boundaries aren’t the only ones that are important.

Time boundaries are a key to life balance because they’re essential to making sure that one area of your life doesn’t overtake the rest. 

An example for me is: I’m focusing on making homeschooling well and with joy a priority this year. 

I started homeschooling because I wanted a different kind of education for my kids. One where learning was fun and meaningful. And curiosity and wonder drove them to explore deeper. 

But I’ve found that I’m prone to letting the tyranny of the urgent keep us from doing the really exciting projects that bring learning to life. And I end up just trying to make it through the basics so I can return to my to-do list. 

Do you see how that’s out of alignment with my priorities? Unbalanced? 

Unbusy Your Mom Life!

Hey mama, I see you – hustling hard. Doing all.the.things. But mom life doesn’t have to be ruled by your to-do list. Let me show you how to Take Back Your Time with my FREE toolkit!

Which brings us to our next action step…

[5:58] Create Rhythms And Routines

Creating rhythms and routines for the mundane, everyday things that I dread and put off (inevitably making them urgent tasks later on), was really and truly an exercise in discipline for me.

I loathe the laundry. It’s the bane of my existence. I’m not really sure why, but there’s something so disheartening about that full hamper at the end of each and every day when I JUST washed everything in it this morning. 

And I’d heard everyone say a load a day keeps the laundry mountain away. Honestly, it made me roll my eyes. But the laundry mountain is no joke, and eventually I decided that I hated it more than just about anything else. So I set out to find an answer to the problem once and for all. 

I tried washing, folding, and putting away a load a day. Then I tried washing a load every day and folding once a week while watching Call the Midwife. I tried every guaranteed, tried and true method none of it worked for me, so I decided to do what felt easy and right for me

I made a promise to myself that I would never again – barring a tragedy of epic proportions – take a load from the dryer without folding it. Because I know if the clothes hit the basket, it’s certain doom, and I will never fold them. 

Here’s what’s working for me: I wash a load in the morning. Swap it sometime throughout the day. And then the next morning, after I put the new load in the washer, I fold yesterday’s load into baskets (one for each person in our house).

I try to put the clothes away at the end of each week, but sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn’t. It’s not a perfect system, but it’s working for us. 

It’s the same with the dishes, cooking, bathing children, etc. You need a consistent routine that works for you. This not only takes the pressure off, but it also helps with decision fatigue because chores are done the same way, at the same time, every day. 

Life Hack: When you’re unmotivated to do the housework, pair something you love to do with something you don’t care for so much. For example: pop in an earbud and listen to a podcast while you fold the laundry, or prop your phone on the window sill in front of the kitchen sink to watch Sherlock while washing the sink full of pots and pans. 

If you’re ready to get started with this step, I invite you to sign up for my five day Out of Overwhelm Challenge for Moms where I’ll help you start managing the mundane everyday tasks that steal your time and your sanity!

[8:45] Get Your Mindset Right

I don’t know about you, but this is so much harder for me than doing something practical. I’m a go-getter, take-action kind of gal. Give me the tools and the tips and I’ll get the job done. But the inner work feels so much messier. 

Sometimes I find that the reason I’m neglecting a certain area of my life is because I’m actually avoiding it.

I’ll tell my husband something like, “I need to see my sisters more, but I’m just so busy. I wish I could find some balance.”

But the real reason there’s no balance is because I don’t actually want to see my sisters. Or a friend. It could be anyone. 

Maybe there were hurt feelings and I’m avoiding a confrontation. Or I’m in a season of overwhelm and seeing their success makes me feel inadequate. Whatever it might be…

These aren’t actually balance issues. They’re heart issues. And the only the only way to fix them is to do the hard work to heal what you can and surrender the rest.

There’s a tension between taking steps of active faith and surrendering what’s out of your control, and you have to do both if you’re going to dig deep and root out the limiting beliefs that keep you from creating a life you love. 

Journal through your feelings. Pray about it. Write down where they come from. Then speak truth to your heart.

Something like: I was created with a plan and a purpose for my unique life. My path to success doesn’t need to look like anyone else’s. It’s enough to rest in the knowledge that God’s grace is all I need, and His mercies are new each morning. 

Then give it to God in prayer and let it go. Sometimes I have to let it go over and over again because I keep picking the lie back up, but He is patient and gives me grace each and every time. 

[10:38] The Short And Sweet

The idea that balance means equal time for every thing is a myth that steals our joy, and keeps us chasing after perfectionism rather than allowing us to make slow, steady progress toward what really matters.

Life is always going to be a work in progress. It’s okay to get it wrong. It’s okay to make progress and then regress. And it’s okay to change your mind. 

What works for you in one season may not work in the next. That’s why the idea of steadiness is so life-giving. Because when we stumble, we just have to get back up and work towards finding the right footing again. 

I really and truly hope this new way of looking at life balance brings you freedom and allows you to start living in alignment with your purpose and priorities. 

Resources we talked about in this episode…

Simplify Your Mom Life 7 Day Email Challenge

Freebie ALERT!

Unbusy Your Mom Life!

Hey mama, I see you – hustling hard. Doing all.the.things. But mom life doesn’t have to be ruled by your to-do list. Let me show you how to Take Back Your Time with my FREE toolkit!

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