Have you heard “finding balance” used in a sentence lately? If you’re a mother, the answer is undoubtedly yes.
Among the myriad of Merriam-Webster definitions, “balance” can mean “physical equilibrium,” “mental and emotional steadiness,” or “an oscillating well operating with a hairspring to regulate the movement of a timepiece.” Hmm…
At Wonder Mommy, this definition doesn’t cut it. Especially that last one. Rather, “balance” is a seemingly eternal quest for mothers. Often, it’s an impossibility. A false ideal. A patronizing concept that leaves moms feeling like they may be doing something wrong. In reality, “finding balance” as a mother is like trying to do a handstand on a rollercoaster—it’s probably not gonna happen.
We know it’s an uphill battle. So we wrote to some fellow mothers to try and glean some insights. We asked them how they approach the sometimes maddening but ever-present pressure to “find balance” as mothers/humans, and here’s what they had to say.
1. Amy, The Work at Home Mom
I think moms tend to confuse “balance” with “perfection.” To me, balance is far from perfection. It’s more about feeling like I know I’m doing my best in my professional and personal lives. It’s achieving this syncopated rhythm of being both mom and business owner in a way that meshes with my family. I am in no way perfect—nor is my life—but making sure my kids’ needs and happiness gel with my need to financially support my family is crucial. They’re both equally important but in very different ways, which is why I strive to find a fair balance between them.
2. Janel, A Mom’s Take
We as mother’s need to start saying “No!” more often. There are a lot of things in our daily lives that we do or take on that really aren’t necessary. Stop taking on new commitments that you don’t have time for, aren’t personally interested in, or that take away from your family focus. We also lose a lot of time mindlessly watching TV. Ask your partner (or a best friend) to watch the kids for a few hours and get out of the house by yourself at least twice a month. A little time out of the house without the kids can help rejuvenate you and will help you to be a better, more attentive mother.
3. Shelly, A Child Grows in Brooklyn
That’s a big question. Sometimes you can’t actually find the time. A lot of inspirational quotes will say that it is all possible, but it’s not. A lot of people say it is just a matter of priorities, but I find that offensive. My advice, take it one day at a time and don’t blame yourself when sometimes things don’t work out. Just move to the next thing. Oh, and if you have a partner, make sure they are taking an equal load. A lot of women take on more than their share because it is hard to give up control–but partners have to learn somehow!
4. Gabriella, The Mogul Mom
I always say it is critically important for mothers to take “me time,” even if it is just five minutes of meditation or deep breathing. One thing I do every day is wake up very, very early. I know it’s not easy—I sacrifice sleep. But honestly, those hours between 5-7:30 AM (or sometimes even earlier) are entirely MINE. I work out, I answer emails, I write, I work, I have coffee, I read, I do anything I want to do because nobody is up. My productivity skyrockets because of it and I also get time to myself which feels amazing in the midst of the chaos. If early doesn’t work for you, then try late—stay up later than you had thought and gather some of the time for yourself to just do YOU.
5. Amberley, Maternal Instincts
Gosh this is such a great question. One I don’t exactly know the answer to. What I do know is finding balance in motherhood and personhood is an art which is ever-evolving. In our home, scheduling time is key. I schedule time everyday, in among the structured things like kinder or swimming lessons, to really play with my kids free from distraction. Plus, I schedule work and pleasure; whether that’s a yoga class, a date with Netflix or some quality time with my love. Without devoting time each day to my children, my work, and my pleasure, no one wins. Scheduling for me is everything.
6. Mary, Confessions of a Young Mom
I plan and prepare ahead of time. This includes simple tasks like meal prep, or picking out my children’s clothes a day ahead of time. Every minute counts when you’re a mom. This is why, at times, it feels like there’s not a minute to spare. I know that sometimes this job can be very stressful. Some days you may struggle to do all that you need to do. Remember that we all have the same 24 hours in a day and time is our most valuable resource. It shouldn’t be taken for granted. So create memories for yourself now while you can. Plan a trip with your girlfriends. Go out and get a pedicure occasionally and choose not to feel bad about it. Mama has to have a life too!
7. Sarah, Stigma Fighters
Whenever anyone asks me how I “find balance,” I laugh internally. My astrological sign is a Libra, which means that supposedly I thrive on being a balanced person. The harsh truth is there is no balance in parenting. The seesaw is always tipping in one direction. The best advice that I can give to any mom is to expect that there is no balance, there is no perfect parent, and to roll with the punches, which are sometimes literal and sometimes metaphorical.
8. Jamie, Wonder Mommy CEO & Founder
To me, finding balance means balancing my needs. After I had my second child, everyone was getting on my case to have more “me” time and to pursue my hobbies and interests. However, at that time, I didn’t really want to do anything but cuddle with my beautiful child and listen to him coo. I felt like there was pressure to hold onto my former identity, but what I really needed to do was let go of it at that time. Admitting that to myself was key to finding balance. I realized that I wanted my hobbies to center around my children and decided to start this blog. It was a new version of myself. Accepting the new post-Mom me has been a beautiful journey.
There you have it! The consensus seems to be that scheduling as much as possible and then “letting go” (a topic for another blog post, surely) are prime ways to reconcile the countless parts of motherhood/humanhood that beg for your attention. Do you have a different take, or want to chime in to the conversation? Join our Facebook community or send in a pitch to be a guest writer. We’d love to hear from you. In the meantime: Stay super, Wonder Moms.★