If you’re reading this, you’re likely thinking of becoming a mom, are pregnant, or have recently had a baby. If you haven’t figured it out yet, becoming a mother is like throwing your life up into the air and trying to grab all the pieces of your former life without dropping them.
Or maybe that was just me 🙂
It becomes a struggle to find balance when you’re suddenly responsible for another human. You don’t want to focus 100% on the baby, because then you neglect yourself and your health and that’s not good for either of you. You obviously can’t focus 100% on yourself either, because your little one needs you for survival. You might also be balancing a career, or have a demanding schedule, or both. So, how do you find and maintain balance during this season of your life?
First let’s identify the areas of life that we need to balance:
- Physical Health
- Enjoyment/Mental Health
The balance is unique to your life, and is what you can personally live with. It is your very own journey, and won’t look like anyone else’s.
First to balance is your physical health. Of course, in the grand scheme of life, your physical health is important and dictates the quality of your life. Your physical health is determined by how much nutrition, sleep, and activity you’re getting, and how your body is feeling overall.
Next is your enjoyment of your life, and your mental health. This just means how much you are enjoying your routine on a day to day basis, and whether or not that routine is making you crazy and stressed out or fulfilled and accomplished.
This is your schedule and how much of it you can devote to healthy eating, exercise, and self-care. Some may work, some may have older children, some may be overwhelmed as a stay-at-home mom of one baby. Again, all unique to you.
Balancing these four areas of life takes some trial and error, and it may look completely different at various stages of life. Some eras may require less focus on your physical health and more focus on your mental health, or more focus on freeing up your time than working on your goals. For example, if you just had a baby, you may need to let eating perfectly healthy foods go for awhile and just eat what’s convenient to improve your mental health until you can find more balance. Or, maybe you have a goal of running a marathon, and you sacrifice some of your time with your family to train for a period. It’s all about moving the balance around until things feel right.
If you’re unbalanced, you’re going to feel a deep sense of anxiety and turbulence. You might even feel guilt.
Reconciling what you want with what you can do
This guilt is caused by feeling that things “should” be a certain way, because you’re comparing what you can currently do to an ideal world.
Never compare your life to an ideal, because you will always feel like you’re coming up short.
In an ideal world, the healthiest foods would be our favorite ever, and we would never even be tempted by ice cream and pizza. Our lives would be stress-free and easy. We’d all have exactly the help we need, and all the time in the world to devote to our children, careers, hobbies, and personal goals. We’d magically know just how to fit it all in, and we’d be happy, too.
But this isn’t reality for the vast majority of women.
Instead, reconcile that certain aspects may sometimes need to take a back seat to be able to accomplish your current priority. That acceptance will make all the difference in how you feel about your life.
How I Manage My Life Balance
I love food. Once upon a time, I gave up lots of food that I enjoy so I could get really lean. I was really strict about every bite I took, and I was pretty miserable. After some time, I decided that it just wasn’t worth it to me to be really lean and not have my favorite foods, when I could still have a body I was proud of and enjoy my sushi.
I increased my enjoyment of food by re-introducing my favorites, like sushi and pizza, which I enjoy now every week. I know that in order to have lots of freedom with what I eat, I need to stay active and workout with intensity. I really love exercise, so I can do this and not only keep my sanity but actually improve my mental health. All of these things work together to help me reach my goals.
That’s my life now, but I couldn’t be super active right after I had my son. Workouts were limited because sometimes I was just too tired, or he wouldn’t sleep predictably. I was more focused on my nutrition because it was the easiest way to improve my overall health since we were sitting around so much. If working out or food prepping made me feel stressed or was going to push me over the edge, I made the decision to drop it out of the equation. I knew that someday in the future I’d have more time to devote to myself.
And that’s the magic key here: accepting where you are at. If there is a big gap between your current reality and your ideal, it’s going to add to that stress that harms your mental health. You have two choices here to bridge that gap:
- Accept reality – accept that this is the season you are in and you cannot change things right now. Let go of beating yourself up and just know that it’s ok! No guilt.
- Change – you can try to re-arrange your life to find a different balance. Maybe a brainstorm is in order – can you find a reliable sitter so you can work out? Can your partner do the meal planning for awhile? Can you use a healthy food delivery service until life gets a little easier? Can you increase the intensity of workouts so you don’t have to workout quite as long? Can you put off training for a half marathon until baby turns a year old?
Whatever the plan for your life ends up being, it’s important to let any guilt go. Whether that guilt is from not having the body of your dreams right now, or spending more time away from your family, guilt is completely pointless here. Find the plan that you can live with and know that things can always change down the line!
Leave a comment and let me know what area you are struggling for achieving balance, and then let me know what you come up with to bridge the gap between your ideal and your reality. Can you accept scaling back in one area to achieve more balance? Can you change things around at all to bridge the gap? How will you achieve balance?