It was 2009. My third baby had just been born. I was beginning “official” homeschooling with my five-year-old, my two-year-old was potty-training, my husband’s law firm was still getting off the ground, I was battling postpartum depression, and this blog had mushroomed into something far beyond what I’d envisioned requiring hours of effort each week to run.
Everything felt out of whack. I was overworked, overwhelmed, and exhausted — and I wasn’t doing a good job of being a wife, mom, homeschooler, homemaker, or a blogger. In addition, my health was suffering a great deal from the strain and fatigue of trying to juggle it all.
I knew something had to give… but what? I kept telling myself that if I just got more organized, pushed harder, and slept less I’d be able to find a way to do it all.
However, a better schedule, more productivity, or shorter nights wasn’t the magical fix. In fact, it was the exact opposite: I desperately needed to do less, have more margin in my schedule, and get more sleep at night.
It took me a few more months — and getting to the end of my rope physically and emotionally — for me to wake up to the fact that I needed to do an extreme paring down of my responsibilities in order to reclaim my health, find breathing room in my day, and start enjoying life more.
Thanks to my husband’s gentle yet persistent prodding, I finally accepted that I’m not superwoman, relinquished many things on my plate, and brought on some help. Since then, I have come to a beautiful place where I am enjoying both motherhood and blogging.
I’m not going to tell you that it’s always easy — because it’s not. In fact, I’ve worked harder and been stretched further in the last few years than I ever envisioned I was capable of. At the same time, though, I’m invigorated and energized by the responsibilities on my plate, instead of being drained and exhausted by them.
What brought about the change? Well, here are four things:
1. I’m Embracing My Callings
Writing is my passion. I can’t not write. It’s how I process things and it’s richly cathartic to me. If you left me on a desert island and I had no laptop, no paper, and no pen, I’m pretty positive I’d find a stick and start writing in the sand. It’s in my blood.
Despite this, for years, I shied away from admitting that God had called me to be both writer and mom. I guess I was scared that I’d be judged or something if I openly made it known that I was both. That someone might think less of me as a mom if mothering wasn’t all I did.
When I finally owned the fact that I’m a writer through and through and a mom through and through, it changed my whole approach to life. I stopped living in fear and shying away from what God has called me to. Instead, I wholeheartedly jumped into this journey and determined to figure out how to do both well.
2. I’ve Changed My Definition of “Healthy Balance”
The longer I do this dance of blogging and motherhood, the more I’ve come to believe that the notion of “perfect balance” is a misnomer. At any given time, something in your life is going to be requiring more time and energy, be it the baby who is teething, the friend who is going through a crisis, the child who is sick, the writing deadline that is looming, or the blog host that is down.
When my husband and I attended one of Dave Ramsey’s EntreLeadership events, Dave confirmed this to me by saying that we should test whether or not we have balance in our lives by viewing how much time we’ve devoted to each area of priority in our life over the course of a year — not the course of a day or week.
There are going to be days when the blog gets shelved for playing in the snow or caring for a sick child or reaching out to a needy friend. In the same way, it’s also okay if your kids occasionally have a PJ & Movie Saturday or you have your husband pick up carryout for dinner because you were holed up finishing a writing project.
When you have a healthy balance, blogging can bless your family and energize you as a mom. When things are out of balance, a pretty good indicator is that your blog will feel like a burden, or conversely, your mothering responsibilities will feel like a burden. When either of these happen, the best thing is to take a step back, reevaluate your responsibilities, and see what needs to change or be let go of altogether.
3. I’ve Delegated and Dumped Dozens of Responsibilities
I believe wholeheartedly that delegation and dumping are the keys to success as a business owner and blogger. Your blog can control you or you can control your blog.
When you make the choice to be the one dictating your blogging schedule and responsibilities, it’s going to mean saying “no”. You can’t be at everyone else’s beck and call. You can’t chase after every new idea. You can’t experiment with every new blogging widget or plugin.
You’ve gotta set your foot down, create boundaries, and just say “no”. That doesn’t always mean you say “no” to everything and that doesn’t always mean that you say “no” every time. But it does mean that you realize that you are the one calling the shots. If an opportunity or idea is going to put extra strain on your home and family, you are the boss and you have the final say.
It’s easy to forget this and start feeling obligated to people and projects. Before committing to something, ask yourself a few hard questions like:
- “When am I going to find the time to do this?”
- “Is this going to take time and effort away from my most important priorities?”
- “Could I delegate this project to someone else?”
- “What is going to be the return on my investment of time?”
Never commit to something without careful consideration. I promise that you won’t regret it.
4. I’m Learning to Give Myself Grace
You might be able to juggle a lot of things and do a good job of it, but you aren’t nor will you ever be superwoman. You need margin and breathing room in your life. If you aren’t intentional about creating space in your schedule, it will become overrun with seeming must-do’s before you know it.
One of the best things I’ve done is to take Sundays completely off from anything blog related. Many weeks, I keep my phone and computer turned off from Saturday night until Monday morning. This weekly 24 hours of unplugging recharges and refreshes me.
In addition, I’m setting the bar lower when it comes to what I expect of myself. It’s wonderful to challenge myself, but it’s also important to realize that I’m never going to get everything done. There will always be another project that needs to be completed.
Instead of beating myself up over how far I have left to go, I’m learning to focus on being excited about the progress I’m making. Because moving forward — even at a microscopic rate — is still moving forward.
Adapted from my foreword to Blog-at-Home Mom; used with permission