Wednesday, January 27, 2016

(Not) Finding Balance

With running my own business from home, I seem to get the question often : “how do you balance it all?”

I laugh that evil laugh and smile a little sly-er than normal and begin to divulge my big secret.

I don’t.

There you have it.

There is no big secret. There is no trick. The truth is that I don’t balance anything… and I certainly don’t do it well.

This is not to say that I’m all self deprecating about it and stuff. I used to be that way, for sure. I’ve found freedom in giving grace to myself that balance doesn’t come easy to me… if at all.

That all being said, I have found a secret to feeling balanced.

I’ve somehow come to accept that there will always be something that feels chaotic. There will always be an area of life that is out. of. control. That’s life. Whether it is kids’ schedules or my husband traveling or school work or my shop opening (or closing) or parts of our ministry… there will always be something that is chaotic. Accepting that has been the best choice for everyone involved, especially myself. Period.

There is, however, a difference between feeling balanced and being balanced. While I’ve accepted the fact that -at least for me - there will never actually BE balance, I have found that I can actually feel balanced, even in the chaos. The key is knowing what my priorities are. And I know that sounds all cliche, and not only do I not mean it in that way, but I also don’t mean it to sound cliche… because it’s not.

This is what works best for me… and I’m hoping you can find some little nuggets here and there that might work for you if you find yourself running a muck in the chaos!

There are three areas that need to be P R I O R I T I Z E D in my life in order me to feel balanced…. or actually, for me to not care that everything isn’t balanced.

FIRST - I must get up before everyone else in the morning and get still before the Lord.

This has looked different in different seasons of my life… but at some point when B was super little, I realized that spending time with the Lord was such a different experience when I did it first thing in the morning, specifically in a still and quiet house. It completely changes the course of my day.

Now, before you tune me out because you’re in the middle of a busy season where you need all the sleep you can get or you’re staying up late with a sick baby or studying for school at all hours of the night, please know I am not talking about that “quiet time” that is ingrained in your head growing up at the local baptist church.

This has looked completely different throughout different seasons of my life. Even from day to day it’s different. Some days it’s reading scripture. Sometimes it’s actually doing a bible study. Sometimes it’s reading Jesus Calling. Some days… especially when life is completely stressful and I’m not getting much sleep (hello, new mommas!!) I like to get my coffee and sit in a dimly lit room and listen to worship music. Eyes closed and everything. Just letting it soak into the depths of my soul and feed me. Sometimes I carve out 45 minutes. Some days, y’all… it’s 5 or 10. Don’t get caught up in the quantity of time.

Whatever you need to do, however you can get Truth into your heart… do it. I know people do it at other parts of the day, but I’m telling you………. it is worth it to get up earlier than everyone else. Promise.

Next is the hardest to keep in place. My people.

For me to feel on top of my game and for it to be easier for me to roll with the punches, I need to have my people taken care of. This means getting them fed (it doesn’t mean I need to be fixing meals all the dang time, but it does mean I plan for not fixing the meals if that’s the case). This means having the house relatively in order and feeling cozy. The 15 minute refresh helps a TON with this. I function BEST when my house is feeling tidy. Not clean necessarily - think scrubbing the toilets - but tidy and picked up and restful.

When my people are relaxed, I feel relaxed. When they feel full, I feel full. It’s really as simple as that. And although this area takes on a life of it’s own many days because of doctor’s appointments, practice schedules, and homework, if this remains in second place for me consistently, I can feel my muscles begin to loosen and my heart begin to settle in.  

Taking care of my people is a privilege, not a burden, although it can feel like it sometimes. It’s all about perspective for me, and priority.

The last is my business. 

Note to Self :: I easily switch this one and the one prior to this, my people, and when I do that, I feel the most out of balanced and stressed as I ever do. Must make sure I keep these two in line.

When I first got crazy in business, I remember discussing with another business owner how she makes time for everything. The best piece of advice I ever got was that even though I work at home, make my own hours, set my own pace, it’s still a business. It is not just a hobby for me. I am trying to make money and make it worth my time. Once I said that out loud, Little Branches began to sit differently in my house.

I started not feeling guilty when I needed to “work” and have the kids play independently for a bit. (That generally is Landry’s nap time, if you’re wondering). It’s okay for them to play by themselves y’all. In fact, it’s very good for them! I even started to say no to lunch dates and play dates that sat in the middle of my “work hours”. Once I saw that time as dedicated work time, with few exceptions, it helped me be able to set work aside when I was done.

When you work at home, it’s very hard to close the door at night. It’s always there. The studio is always overflowing with work and the garage is always needing to be picked up. But, basically setting “office hours”, if you will has helped tremendously in easing my mind as to the notion that I always need to be working.

There will always be work to be done. Life will always be crazy… until it’s not, and then we will miss it. I won’t always have this life to live, and I do want to live it. I want to be present in every moment of every day. That doesn’t come easy to this people-pleasing, multitasking momma, but I’m working on it. When I am consistent in making sure everything is in perspective, and in it’s spot priority-wise, life feels easier… and much less stressful.

How do you find balance? Is it easy for you? I’d love to hear your tips if you have some!!!

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