There are many things we want in life. Chocolate, wine, coffee, a moments peace. To be thinner, richer, happier.
Yet as I trundled through single mum life, I have learnt that the basis to making it all work, is balance.
Balance is the often elusive, but absolute answer to feeling content and in-control of your world, however hectic is may be. It gives you a positive mental space with clarity and openness. And it is the foundation from which everything in your life can grow and thrive, often in ways you never thought possible.
I honestly believe if you can find good balance, then everything else falls into place.
In this article, I share some thoughts and suggestions from my “You’ve Got This” Single Mum eCourse about finding balance as a single mother.
So, whether you are wading through the chaos or are looking for ways to make your life more constructive and peaceful without the stress … keep reading.
HOW TO BALANCE SINGLE MUM LIFE SO YOU DON’T GO COMPLETELY CRAZY
UNDERSTAND WHAT BALANCE IS
“Balance” is a word that is thrown around liberally these days. We all want it, but what actually is it?
To explain, I love this perfect quote from Tiny Buddha:
“It means that you have a handle on the various elements in your life and don’t feel that your heart or mind are being pulled too hard in any direction. More often than not, you feel calm, grounded, clear-headed and motivated.”
HOW DO I KNOW IF MY LIFE IS OUT OF BALANCE?
You might be questioning yourself about how balanced your life is right now. This is something we assess in my ecourse with a cool little tool. But, as a quick assessment, here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Are you constantly multitasking but never seem to do or finish things properly?
- Are you falling into bed at night exhausted yet feeling unaccomplished?
- Do you feel physically under par with things like constant tiredness and headaches?
- Have you lost sight of who you really are as a person in your own right?
- Have you forgotten what “family time” and “personal life” are?
- Do you feel unmotivated (even after coffee!)?
- Have you lost direction and/or enthusiasm about what you really want from life?
If you are nodding in agreement with more than one of the above points, there is definitely room for improvement.
Let’s keep going …
BALANCE IS LIKE LOVE: DIFFERENT FOR EVERYONE
Having told you what balance is and some signs of unbalance, I will also say that work/life balance is slightly different for everyone.
For example, I love my world to be organised and peaceful. However, I have friends who thrive on being busy, even hectic. I need seven hours of sleep minimum each night. Yet, other people only need a few hours.
Balance doesn’t mean you are walking around in a Zen like state with your world 100% organised and operating like clockwork. It is about working out what is worthy of a place in your life and giving the appropriate amount of focus to each, without getting overwhelmed by one thing.
IT IS ALSO LIKE THE CHICKEN AND THE EGG
Question: How can we find a healthy work life balance without having the clarity and motivation that comes from a healthy work life balance?
It’s a good question because when your life is all over the place and you barely have time to pee, making positive change can seem almost impossible.
Here are some ways …
FIND YOUR “TIPPING” POINTS
Your tipping points are the areas where your life is most out of balance.
It is probable that you will know these straight away. They will be things like:
- A demanding job with long work hours
- Time spent in the kitchen preparing and cleaning up from meals
- A child’s extracurricular sport three times a week
- Never having time to do anything for you
In fact, all of the above were personal tipping points for me. They were areas I had to work on to the start the process of finding balance.
I am not saying you should leave work or stop your child’s netball practice. Instead, think of small things that can make each one easier. My solutions were to start my own business (huge task, not suggesting you leave work and do this!), batch cook, find ride-share support for netball and learn to meditate.
By making small changes to the most unbalanced areas, I was able to clear the path to work on other areas. You can too.
SLOWLY SLOWLY SOFTLY MONKEY
I make it sound so easy, don’t I?
It actually is easy … so long as you don’t do everything at once and don’t expect miracles.
Take it nice and slow. Work on one area at a time until you find a solution, implement, and entwine it into your life until it becomes a new routine. Then, work on the next area.
Saying no can be hard but when you get the hang of it, it’s very empowering.
You are not expected to do everything that comes your way, I promise.
Be that person who weighs up the request and facilitates the “no” word when you need to.
Knowing your capabilities and boundaries is a good thing. Saying no to anything that sits outside them means you are honouring yourself and the things that really matter to you.
How to balance single mum life (cont.)
BALANCE IS A JOURNEY, NOT A GOAL
Finding balance is a practice. It is something that we work on now and continue to do forever. You don’t wake up one morning and think: “That’s it, I’ve got it, balance is all MINE.”
Balance will come and go depending on how hard you practice it. But, like all things, the more you practice, the better you will be. When you reap the rewards of your practice you will be more inclined to keep practicing and it will come more effortlessly.
BALANCE IS FOUND BOTH INSIDE AND OUTSIDE OF YOU
The practice of finding balance is both internal and external.
When we think of balance, we usually think of the practicalities first, such as work, family and fun.
However, you must also weigh up your internal balance. Such as your heart, mind and health. Think:
- Is my mind being challenged but do I also allow it time to switch off?
- Am I kind to my body providing it with both exercise and rest?
- Do I have love in my life? And do I give love in an equal measure?
Remember to look inside yourself because that is just as important as getting the kids to school on time and dinner on the table every evening.
Further reading: Finding the real you amid the craziness of being a single mum.
STOP LOOKING FOR MORE
Balance is only achievable if we know our limits and respect them. It goes without saying that if you keep adding more and more to your life, you balance will be off kilter.
Give yourself time to assess the next move and whether or not it is the right one for you and your family. As single parents, we are so eager to aspire and give our children the best lives we possibly can, that we take on too much. The end result is burnout, not balance.
I’ll leave you with a thought-provoking line from The Art of Living by Dalai Lama XIV in the context of always trying to earn more/be more/do more:
“The very basis of seeking more is a sense of not having enough, a feeling of discontent.”
Making the decision to concentrate on what you already have rather than constantly wanting more, will make finding balance much easier and life in general will be more enjoyable.