Stop Feeling Guilty for Your Lack of Balance
Like graduating from tricycle to two-wheeler. Or losing your first tooth, bloodied but triumphant, this fall I've graduated to a new level in my solopreneur, work-from-home journey.
You see my kids are getting a little bit older (funny how they're always doing that) and a little more independent. Meaning I now have dedicated kid-free hours to work every week. Without having to beg one of my relatives on bended knee to watch my kids (okay that still sometimes happens).
Apparently, I've gotten VERY used to this in the few short months since September. Because Christmas vacation + work-from-home = INSANITY
But here's the thing - whether you have 3ft screaming munchkins demanding your attention. Or you're just over-run with the chaos and commitments that come with Christmas, I KNOW I'm not the only solopreneur finding focus about as hard to come by as a unique, thoughtful gift at 5 pm on Christmas Eve. (PS if you know the secret to having a relaxing, zen Christmas please share!)
For some reason, though, after the 26th I had visions of my kids settling down with their new toys and entertaining themselves while I did some work.
I WAS LIVING IN A FANTASY! Somehow I deluded myself into thinking my life would magically look like those photos out of a parenting mag when really it more closely resembles this.
My kids are small (3 & 5) and they do not want to entertain themselves. Not even with all the shiny, new, freshly unwrapped toys. Not for more than 10 minutes anyway.
So what's a working mom to do?
Well, if you read a lot of those feel-good-self-help blogs out there they'll tell you everything's about balance.
CONFESSION: I have no idea what balance looks like. I'm convinced it's an illusion. In fact, I hate that word. It conjures up images of scales (which I hate for other reasons but that's another story). And the only way to balance a set of scales is to put equal amounts on both sides.
That doesn't work for me. I cannot equally divide myself amongst the important things in my life. And while I agree I should make time for all of them, I don't see WHY it has to be equal amounts of time. *end rant*
I am, however, a big fan of figuring out what works for your situation and not worrying if it doesn't look the same as: your mentor's, your girlfriends, your buddy's, the stay-at-home Mom who doesn't also run a business, the solopreneur who doesn't have kids. Or whomever else you're comparing yourself to.
- I get up at 5 am every day to work for a couple of hours before the kids get up. And I'm officially done feeling guilty about the amount of caffeine I drink as a result.
- On hubby's day off I'll sneak off to the coffee shop to concentrate. Who knew yakking strangers and clanging dishes can improve your focus and creativity?
- When kids are home with me (like Christmas vacation) I'll put on a movie and hope that Disney can hold their attention for more than 20 minutes so I can concentrate. And I don't feel guilty about it.
- Instead of coffee breaks, I have snowball fights. Or Uno tournaments. Or kitchen dance parties. Because let's face it, I don't actually need a break to drink coffee or tea I do it ALL DAY LONG.
- Creative cross-training is a family activity and good for all our brains. This was our 3rd year for advent books and this one is full of great ideas for art activities. Plus, I've had seriously cool conversations about realism, impressionism and abstract art with my 5-year-old as a result.
- Forcing them to play without me sometimes so I can work is actually a good thing. It teaches independence and problem solving and encourages creativity. I hope as they get older they'll be able to entertain themselves without screens or someone telling them what to do for longer and longer periods of time. (pro tip: if your kids are small strategically pick tasks where you can be easily interrupted without losing your mind for this because it never lasts long)
What I'm saying is find your own version of balance, whatever that looks like, and stop feeling guilty.
Stop feeling guilty for not playing with your kids 24/7.
Stop feeling guilty for not devoting every waking moment and every spare minute to your business.
Make space for what's important in your life, however you can, and don't worry about what it looks like to anyone else.