Everyone talks about work/life balance. But I like the word harmony better because I think balance doesn’t really exist. Balance is when two things are weighted the same, and everything has exactly the same importance. What happens when you have a scale that is perfectly balanced on each side? Nothing. It doesn’t move. In reality, different things at different times take more importance and more of your focus than others.
I love the analogy of an orchestra because I played cello in orchestras for years. I miss it! The cello’s job was mostly accompaniment. If you’re not a musician, we’re basically the bottom note of every chord for as long as we’re playing, and while it is important, it’s not the most important thing. However, every once in a while, we get the melody and the cello section gets to be the star! Sure, every instrument is indeed important, but certain instruments have the melody or the solo at different times. For a few moments, they are the most important instrument, before they hand it off to the next section and then to the next.
Life is just like a huge orchestra. So many moving parts. So many things to juggle. We’re always juggling work, kids, home, friends, family, school, homework, sports….the list goes on and on, and it’s impossible for everyone and everything to have the same amount of importance. It depends on what’s happening at that moment in time, right? My kids have always been the most important thing, but not if my husband has pneumonia and he’s in the hospital. I hardly saw my kids that week because my husband needed me more that they did for those several days. I didn’t spend quality time with my kids that week, I didn’t read to them, I didn’t make them a homemade dinner. I dropped them off at school, drove to the hospital, then in the afternoon, I picked them up from school and dropped them off at home. Then my cousin came over and took care of the kids so I could go back to the hospital.
Work is important, of course. We need money to pay for life! But when Leah started a new school not knowing a single person and called me to ask if I could come to pick her up for lunch so she wouldn’t have to sit alone, I dropped everything and drove to school. Work just isn’t important when my daughter is struggling and she needs me. (I don’t know if that was the best parenting move—to go rescue her from an uncomfortable situation—but it’s been a really rough year and I thought that decision was a good one. Who knows if any of my parenting decisions have been the right ones!) And if there’s a big deadline at work or a project that really needs to be finished, I order pizza for the kids, they do their thing, and I work while John watches a movie. Work sometimes has the solo when something really important needs to be done.
My point is, harmony is achievable no matter who has the solo in your life or who needs the most attention. I believe creating harmony in your home is a great tool to creating more peace and joy in your life. It’s an entire chapter in my book because of the huge impact it had in my life just creating more order in my home itself. But I think harmony is about home, body, mind, spirit. It’s all of it. What’s best for your mind is great for your spirit and body. What’s good for your soul is great for your body. Something that creates a little more order—even something like putting your keys in the same place every day so you never run around trying to find your keys—creates a sense of calmness. Maybe you’ll get to your appointment on time and have less stress in the morning, which might just put a smile on your face!
Being intentional about creating harmony is self-care. Self-care is another set of words that gets thrown around so much that people might blow it off and roll their eyes. I know I used to! My house looked like a daycare that no one had cleaned for a year! I always said, “I don’t have time.” I said it over and over and convinced myself to believe that I didn’t have time to take care of the house, to take a minute for myself, to do something that would make me feel better. I convinced myself that had too many responsibilities and the weight of running a business while raising two kids alone was enough. I couldn’t handle one more thing on my plate. But when I got specific about what “care” means to me and why I needed to practice taking care of mom, it changed everything. Once I practiced small things to create harmony I started to smile for no reason and I had a little skip in my step that I hadn’t had before! Since self-“care” is so wildly over-used, I looked up synonyms and their definitions for the word care.
Nurture: care for and encourage the growth or development of.
Treasure: keep carefully (a valuable or valued item). value highly.
Protect: keep safe from harm or injury.
I love all of those words. That’s what we do for our children, right? Nurture them, treasure them, and protect them? Don’t you think that we could do those things better if our bodies weren’t run down, our minds were clear and calm, we felt connected to God, and we had a little more order in our home?
I also looked up the antonyms. If we don’t practice self-care, what are we practicing? Disrespect, apathy, lethargy, neglect. Ouch. We don’t want to practice those things with our children. Then why are we doing that to ourselves?
Finding Your Why
Anyone with children wants to be a great parent. My “why” was two-fold. A) These two little humans the God trusted me with. I wanted to be a better mother, and B) I wanted to attract an amazing husband who loved me, cherished me, and adored me exactly the way I am. I knew that if I wanted to attract something I’d never had, then I had to become someone I’d never been. And I wanted to be a good example to my kids. Demonstrate taking care of yourself so that when they were on their own they would feel better, be more successful and more joyful.
Finding your why is just as easy as making a list of the most important things to you. Not to your parents or friends. What is most important to you in this life? When you get to the end of your life, and you’re going into hospice, I don’t think you’ll wish you worked more hours. What will you wish you had done more of? How can you do more of that right now?
I wanted to laugh more, have more patience, create more energy, and have more fun with my kids. I wanted to be able to put work stress and financial stress aside when I was spending time with them, and I wanted to take myself less seriously. They deserve the 100% version of their mom and not the 25% run down ragged version of me. So the question becomes, what can we DO to help ourselves get from the 25% run down stressed out mom to at least 50%? You have to take a different action than you did yesterday. We have to help ourselves feel better so we can DO better! I started decluttering and organizing my home, which made me feel good. I started getting manicures. I was a hardcore nail biter my whole life and I was so embarrassed that I would hide my hands in every photo I was in so no one could see my fingers. Manicures made me feel good. I created a sanctuary in my home so I had a place for me to relax, read, and reset. That made me feel good. I starting hiking (alone) more and getting outside. That made me feel good. Are you starting to see a little pattern here? Being intentional about practicing those self-care items helped me take a deep breath, take a step back, and be a better mom. And, if you want to attract an awesome husband who cares for your well-being above all else, you have to care about your well-being while you’re single!
Everything is a practice
Those are just a few ideas that I found helpful for me. But you’re the only one who can determine what’s best for you. What’s best for you is what you find when discovering your “why”. And, the good news is, perfect harmony isn’t achieved overnight! What is perfect harmony? It doesn’t exist! Just like a violin player won’t play in a philharmonic orchestra after his first month of lessons. He hasty’ practiced enough. And, there’s even more good news! Creating a little harmony each day adds up! And being clear about “why” you want to practice self-care (aka self-nurture, self-protection, and self-treasure) then it’s much easier to believe that it’s important and necessary. Figure out what it is that mom needs in order to do all her mom duties with more ease. Discover what it is that mom needs in order to feel a little more relaxed when she’s at home and the kids need her attention and love. And then just do one of those things! Just practice today. Then practice again tomorrow.
Wishing you all the love in the world,