I recently was contacted by a national talk show to appear as a guest panelist to debate hot parenting topics. I didn't end up flying to New York (partially because I didn't want to judge other moms on the show), but was paid a very nice compliment by the producer. She wrote that I was a great model for balancing work and motherhood.
I've thought about this a few times since our exchange, because if you looked at my life from the inside, it's anything but balanced. Like most working moms, juggling several freelance television jobs, time with the kids, activities, school functions, housework and non-existent "me" time is challenging. Add sporting events into the equation that keep me up late at night and on different days each week... and you've got a recipe for chaos. But I pride myself that I've been able to keep it semi-together and live this motto:
Decide what's important, and build your life around that.
This was the best advice given to me before becoming a mom, so that's exactly what I did... built my life (and career) around our kids. It's not the right choice for everyone, but it's the right choice for me. It took me seven long years to finally become a mom, and I cherish each day I have with them (even the tough tantrum filled ones). Because I'm freelance, I do have some flexibility in scheduling edit days around their activities. I cannot, however, ask the NBA to change the day of a Finals game due to my daughter’s doctor appointment.
With 93 percent of families in this country requiring a dual income, finding balance between work and our children is becoming increasingly difficult. Here are a few things that seem to help when order needs to be restored... stat.
1. Schedule, schedule, schedule
Have a schedule for everyone in your house, in one place. For me it's a planner in my bag that has each family member's activities, appointments, nanny's hours, meal plan and errands. We also keep a calendar in the kitchen that everyone can see so there are no surprises. This is my Saturday morning chore, along with meal planning.
2. Get up early, before your children
This one is hard, but so important. That quiet time in the morning is great for catching up on emails, social media, the news and just getting a little "me" time. A cup of coffee and GMA always makes me happy. So does an early morning workout.
I can't stress enough how vital it is to exercise and share that with your kids. Setting a good example of working out, even if it's just playing soccer in the backyard, not only releases endorphins that make you feel good, but teaches your children the importance of being active and healthy.
4. Make time for yourself
It's so easy to lose yourself once you become a mom. But doing something you love every day or every week will keep you human. Reading, working out, writing, playing the piano, watching the Real Housewives, getting a pedicure, whatever it is... just do it.
5. Share your passions with your kids
Remember who you were before you were a parent, and share your passions and hobbies with your kids. You don't always have to take them to parks, indoor play spaces or plan play dates. We bake muffins together every week. And when I feel like reading my Nook, I grab our girls a few books for quiet time. Kids will be inspired if they see you doing what you love.
Remember if you are drowning... ask for help. And if you still can't find balance, it may be time to re-evaluate what's really important to your family. As Ferris Bueller so famously said, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."