How To Balance YourselfDec 23, 2022
Ever feel that your wheel is spinning? That you are constantly taking care of work and your family, but it never feels like enough? It feels like we are failing somewhere, that there is a never-ending to-do list, and find that we don't have a chance to do something for ourselves. How can we sit and read a book or take time to focus on our art or passion when we have other people who rely on us? It is easy to forget about ourselves when we are so focused on other people that we end up forgetting who we are. After a time, our whole world revolves around other people. We get to the point of realizing we don't know what we enjoy for fun anymore. We know what fulfilled us 5 years ago, but we don't know what fulfills us now. For many people, this is when they realize they have been filling that hole in themselves by giving and giving themselves to others.
So the question remains, how do we balance ourselves? How do we balance our time raising kids, taking care of our family, and finding time for our spouse? It is so easy to lose ourselves over the years. How do we rediscover ourselves as an individual?
We often look at this as a problem in time, that we don't have time to do it all. But it is actually a problem of priorities. That we prioritize our work or our family over ourselves. Many would gape at the statement about prioritizing yourself over your kids, but putting yourself first every so often isn't bad. Taking care of ourselves physically, mentally, and spiritually is important. When we are unbalanced, we can feel overwhelmed, stressed, tired, anxious, snappy, etc. It is being overburdened and not taking the time that you need to decompress and enjoy your life.
So the first step to balancing yourself is to put yourself first. Carve out a little time for yourself every day, whether it is 5 minutes or an hour. You might think, "Well, I don't have time to step away for 5 minutes." Yes, you do. It may not feel like it; it may feel impossible and like there are more important things to do, but you can make time for yourself. The laundry can wait, let the dishes sit a little longer, or your spouse can deal with a toy-covered floor for a few more minutes. You are more than allowed to push another task to make time for yourself or even offload it to someone else. Having your spouse take care of dinner one night a week so you can sit in a quiet area alone is not too big of an ask. Give yourself time to decompress and focus on YOU. Then start to give yourself more time; once a week, give yourself 30 minutes. Take a hot bath, read a book, or take a walk. Prioritize an activity for yourself like you would an appointment; You are doing this activity, at this time, for this long.
You will also want to create a routine. Now, depending on what works best for you, this can be as detailed or as loose as you want. You want to create a routine or schedule that allows you to organize your thoughts, the needs of your house and family, and YOUR needs as well. It is easy to get lost and overwhelmed when we have a lot on our plate. Everything can feel urgent, and the only thing we can take off our plate to lessen the load is the things for us. When we create a schedule, this allows us to see and work past the stress we feel in the moment and allow us to better handle problems as they arise. When starting out, create categories with timeframes throughout the day. Set a block for work, for chores, to play with the kids, for quality time with your spouse, and a block for time just for you. Creating a routine of self-care as well can also help us become more mindful of taking care of ourselves.
Then it is time to reconnect with the things you once loved. We all have to start somewhere, so why not start with a hobby or activity that you used to enjoy? Attend a painting class, a local hiking group, or even an online book club. It is easier to keep ourselves accountable for doing our activity if we can build a network around it. Whatever it was that you enjoyed, start stepping back into it. Taking time to do new exciting things or the things you used to love doesn't mean you are neglecting your current duties. You can be a good mom or parent while spending a couple of hours every week to do something for only yourself. Our children and our families can often feel like our whole life, but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't be a part of your own life. It doesn't mean you need to take care of everyone else's needs before yours. Your own needs and desires are just as valid.
A huge part of balancing ourselves is being there for us and putting time and effort into our own mental, physical, and spiritual well-being. It is being mindful of how far we are spreading ourselves and the emotional and physical load we carry at home. The main takeaway from this is to give the same time and energy to yourself that you are giving to other people.