Balance. As moms we have this concept elevated before us as though it is a holy Grail. We're constantly striving to balance creating lovely homes, work, raising kids, our romantic lives, volunteering in our communities, kids schools, our places of worship, keeping ourselves “in shape”, being good daughters, etc., etc., etc., Of course our focus on which one of these things should take priority shifts, depending on who’s influencing our thoughts, at any given moment.
Often we can feel like we are balancing things quite well, and then a person, or something we've read, or something on social media will prompt us to believe that,”No indeed! We really should be doing that one more thing, or at least doing it better.”
Personally, I find those moments so disheartening, and they have sometimes caused me to question my priorities. I’ll begin wondering, “Should I be volunteering for just one more worthy committee?”, “Should I work out more?”, “ Should I take on one more task at work?”, “Should I be focusing on creating beautiful tablescapes?”, “Should I be involving my child in one more activity to which I have to drive, and for which I have to stretch the space/time continuum further then I already do.” You see my mind can bounce all over the place at times like these and really upset that sense of balance I was hoping to achieve.
Several years ago, after much prayer, I adopted a principle that allows me to check all those competing messages, and regain my sense of balance more quickly.
The principle is: people before things.
I'm not talking about living a minimalist lifestyle, although if that helps you live out this principle, then go for it. This principle is rooted in recognizing that people are the number one gift God gives us, aside from Himself and His grace. Each person is a son or daughter of God, created to live for eternity, and they deserve to be treated with the dignity and love that comes with that. Additionally, those that God has placed closest to us, starting with our spouse and children, then our extended family members, then closest friends and outward, are given into our keeping so that we can help instill a deep sense of that dignity and God's love within them.
Conversely, things only last a short while and only have the value we assign to them, which often waxes and wanes over time. The dream home, or the sweater that was so wonderful at one time, may one day diminish in value when it no longer suits our needs.
The recognition of this allows me to then access all my choices accordingly. So as I attempt to find balance, I start each new day, week, opportunity or challenge by asking myself and God, “ How can I grow closer to my most important people today? How can I use the time that I have today to sure up my relationship with them and help them know in their bones how much I love them and God loves them? Then I make choices from that point of view.
I decide I need to exercise, but I also want to spend time with my child. Deciding my relationship with my child takes priority then leads me to ask, “How can I get exercise without short changing my time with my child?” I then determine that I could get up early and go to the gym while my husband is home, before my child wakes up. I could do a work out video at home with my child. I could simply go for a walk with my child. I don't ignore my need for exercise ( much as I may be tempted to) I just use my creativity to put my child before the way I meet that need.
My child wants to sign up for a zillion after school classes (or I find a zillion that I think would benefit her). But knowing that having a close family is part of living this principle, we then discuss questions like, “ How and when are we going to fit in meals as a family and fun as a family every week. After we schedule those things then we can decide which activities are worth slotting into our schedule.
If I'm trying to make budgeting decisions. After the primary bills that keep our family sheltered, safe, and provided for are taken care of, we can then look at what we might spend our money on would bless the people in our family, or help us make warm memories as a family. Then we also look at how our resources can really bless others outside our family.
Perhaps I need to clean my house. I know that my desire to get it done thoroughly and fast makes me want to do it myself while the kids are off doing something else, or even to divide the jobs up and assign each person something to do alone. But if I have the sense that we'd all end up grumpy and distant from each other by doing it that way today, then maybe I give each person a dust cloth and we all work on the same room together. Or we all fold the laundry together, while we talk and catch up with each other.
This principle has helped me focus my priorities even when life is trying to pull me in a million different directions. I hope it helps bring you balance as well.