If I could describe a Perfectly Balanced Day, it would look something like this:
After a solid 8-9 hours sleep (ha!), I’d wake up before dawn, before kids.
I’d spend my first hour enjoying coffee and Jesus. If it were a weekday, I’d make a healthy breakfast and get the kids off to school with a hug and a kiss and a healthy lunch. If it were a weekend, I’d sleep in and enjoy coffee/Jesus while kids meander in pjs and make their own healthy breakfasts and lunches (#goalz).
I’d spend another hour or so in worship, because this is my latest spiritual discipline, and I’m wondering how I ever lived without it.
At some point, I’d be outdoors, either walking/running, watering plants, petting my neighbor’s horses and/or sitting on the porch. At the very least, I’d open all the windows and let fresh air blow through my house and my lungs.
I’d connect with a friend over text, email, phone, coffee or lunch.
I’d complete something on my to-do list.
My house would be tidy, not because I cleaned it, but because my people would have learned the sacred art of cleaning up after themselves. (Hey, this is MY fantasy. Let me live it, if only in my mind.)
I’d eat a healthy dinner I prepared myself (weekday) or someone else prepared for me (weekend). My kids and husband would be present at dinner, seated, at the exact same time. We’d have a short devotion. We’d have good conversation. My kids would eat their vegetables, because it’s good and right. They would clean up the kitchen, because it’s the least they could do after that delicious dinner I prepared.
At some point, I would impart some nugget of wisdom into my children and they would disclose something deep and personal to me, because I’m da bomb and my children arise and call me blessed.
Jon and I would connect on some level, because: intimacy.
Finally, I’d read a few chapters of a great book in bed, after which, I’d fall asleep early and easily so I can do it all again tomorrow.
This is what I like to think of as “Scales-Type Balance.” Like you, I’m constantly trying to balance a number of meaningful and necessary elements into my life. In Scales-Type Balance, I try to do all the meaningful and necessary things within 24-hour period, always.
In Scales-Type Balance, one extra thing on the scale means one thing has to go off the scale, or the extra thing will tip the scale and throw the whole day off.
Scales-Type Balance is HARD!
I don’t know if I’ve ever had a perfectly well-balanced day, based on that standard. If I strive for this, it will leave me feeling frustrated and less-than, every single day.
In real life, each of my days looks more extreme, like a Pendulum.
For example, last week we spent an exorbitant amount of time tending to a school issue. Long talks with a kid, phone calls and lunch dates with trusted friends for advice, meetings with the principal and teachers. It encompassed my whole week and sucked up all my writing and exercise time.
There have been weeks where we have back-to-back social situations: family in town plus parties plus evening school events, and I don’t have time to be alone or run errands or read.
Sometimes because of Jon’s work schedule, he and I barely see each other for days at a time, except a quick hello and goodbye at morning and night.
In real life, it’s impossible to fit every single day with all the things we find meaningful and necessary. Usually, it’s one or the other, this or that, saying yes to one important thing, causing the other important thing to wait until tomorrow.
That’s why, for me, it helps to view balance more like a pendulum than a scale. When I expect the extremes and roll with them, balance becomes reality.
In Eating: If, in one week, I attend a party, plus several dinners out, plus frozen pizza on a school night, I will balance it out the next week with a week of ultra-clean eating. Maybe, I’ll even incorporate a 24-hour fast in there. My kids always cringe when I announce, “Time to detox!” They know that means it’s time for the pendulum to swing into vegetable soup and salads.
In House Work: As much as I try to do just a little every day (Scales!), the children outnumber me, and it eventually gets out of hand (Pendulum!). I need to balance the filth with a whole cleaning day, where I go room-by-room and get whip it into shape.
In Social Interaction: If I have a day or two of constant conversations or meetings, I need to go into seclusion for a day to recharge. That means I stay home, turn off my phone notifications and stay off social media.
In Writing: If writing has taken a back seat to, well, everything else, I will block out a whole day to crank out some new material. That’s me, today.
In Family: If Jon and I have a week or two where we feel like we are doing nothing but disciplining and correcting the kids, we may take a fun road trip or do something completely recreational to break the tension, laugh, and remind them that we are not complete monsters.
In House Work: If days go by and my list of projects and tasks is screaming for some attention, I’ll take an entire morning to knock out a few of the most urgent things.
In Finances: If we have a season of extreme expenses (hello, new house!) we may go on a buying freeze for a while. Actually, we did a buying freeze in anticipation of the extreme spending the new house would require. You can do that, too! Plan ahead and schedule your extremes so it all balances out eventually.
Back and forth. Back and forth.
One extreme and then the other.
I don’t know if this helps you or not. But sometimes just a simple change of analogy can help you realize you aren’t as off-balance as you think.
Q4U: Do you view balance as a scale or a pendulum? Or something else…maybe a balance beam? Or a yoga pose? What helps you visualize it so you don’t lose your mind. Let’s chat about this.