What's that phrase again? Oh yeah, what you lose on the swings, you gain on the roundabouts. I've always had a problem with that. Firstly, I don't see how there are any gains to be had from spinning in perpetual dizzying motion whereas a go on a swing brings nothing but joy. (Undeniable fact people!)
And secondly, because when it comes to parenting, it's all swings and roundabouts. Our kids are our work and our life. It's not like the pre-parenting days where there was a clear delineation between the two. Back then, if we had a bad day at the office, there was solace and peace to be found at home. But since our parenting days have begun, it's become increasingly difficult to find that point of balance on the work/life see-saw. It's as if all those swings and roundabouts have morphed into one giant bewildering playground. No wonder we sometimes feel like our life is spinning out of control!
So how in the name of all that is good and proper do we get back onto that roundabout, spin incessantly yet walk away as solid as a rock? I have a plan people! And it's nice and simple. All you have to do is get yourself a blank piece of paper and a pen. Go on, chop chop! Got it? Great. Let's start.
Write down the following list:
Beside each point, write the one most important thing that is missing from that part of your life. You can choose from things like more me-time, romance, fun, laughter, promotion, support, communication or whatever comes to mind. And to be honest, it's usually the first thing that pops into your head that needs the most balancing. Now look back at your list and instead of feeling overwhelmed by the amount of aspects that need attention, congratulate yourself on identifying them. It's completely, totally and absolutely impossible to make any changes in our lives if we don't first see what needs to change. So my heartfelt congrats on completing 50% of the job already. Excellent work readers, truly excellent.
Now for step two. Cast your eye back over your list and focus on the part that says Me. Because that's where it begins. As soon as you find balance within yourself, you'll find it a whole lot easier to find balance outside of yourself. What is it exactly that's throwing you off-balance? Get as specific as you can. If you've written down "me-time' then what kind of "me-time' are you looking for? Are you craving a guaranteed lie-in at the weekend or just some time to finish a coffee before it goes cold? Or is it bigger than that? Allow yourself to imagine the most-perfect me-time no matter what shape that takes.
And now for the best part of any project - implementation. If it's something that can be changed pretty quickly then change it pretty quickly. But if it's something that requires a larger shift, don't freak out! Just take the first steps. If you need to sit down and have a conversation with your partner or re-work both your schedules then do it. If you need to book yourself in for a massage every Monday for the next 52 weeks, then do that. The more action you take to create balance, the quicker you will feel it. And the more balanced you feel, the easier it will be to tackle the rest of your list.
Finding balance as a parent doesn't have to require losing yourself on the swing in order to gain a happy family on the roundabout. Small steps forward are all it takes to ensure that no playground ride ever throws you off balance again!