by Lianne Bergeron
I hit the wall last Friday. Ran right into it like a fast moving train. Splat. My crazy life caught up to me and I found myself curled up in a fetal position, having a good cry in bed.
How is it possible to do it all? I know the quote: “You can do it all, just not at the same time”. I know the facts: “We can’t do it all”. But still – I want desperately to do it all. But I can’t. And then I crash.
I want to work.
I want to be with my kids.
I want to see friends.
I want to hang out with my husband.
I want to see the floor when I walk through the house.
I want to exercise.
I want to eat well.
I want to sleep for at least eight hours a night though 10 would help catch up on the back-order.
I want to have some down time.
I want to make scrapbooks for the kids.
I want to have photo albums.
I want to help at school.
I want a smaller list…
Thing is, I manage pretty well – until I don’t.
I exercise three times a week, usually at night when the kids are bed. I work while the kids are at school or at night. I am available for the kids after school and try not to work.
I see friends as often as I can but at least have some kind of social contact once a week. My husband and I try and get out together and I have a good group of babysitters that all live nearby. (This doesn’t happen nearly enough by the way).
We live in a small town so I can bike everywhere and to all of the kids’ activities in less than 10 minutes – in fact my two oldest can often get there themselves. I try to optimize downtime with other things like folding laundry while watching Mad Men and drinking a glass of wine.
I don’t manage the sleep thing very well; the scrapbooks are not made and the photo albums are four years behind. The list keeps getting longer, the house dirtier. Breakfast dishes get put away while I’m cooking diner, dentist and doctor’s appointments I try to plan in the beginning or end of the day. And please don’t ask how often I change the kids’ sheets.
– Make and pack the lunches and snacks the night before (those extra 15 minutes of sleep are like gold).
– Take courses with other great women to learn more about balance.
– Use babysitters when I need them and not depend on my husbands schedule
– Say NO. I’m getting better.
– Buy 2 for 1 pairs of jeans at BlueNotes every summer while in Canada. Add some good shoes or boots and yes folks, this is my outfit for about 300 days a year.
– I run instead of going to the gym. Maximizing the hour I have.
– I often cook enough for two days (although my son is starting to have quite the appetite!).
– I try to separate my work from caring for the kids – though it’s a challenge with my iPhone.
– I order most things on-line
– I try and watch an episode of Modern Family at night, which always makes me laugh!
I must admit to having an all or nothing attitude. It worked while I had a career and no kids. All = work. Nothing = long vacation. But now it’s a whole different story. I don’t know balance. Not the one that works with a house full of kids.
So I manage, then I crash. I manage, then I crash. Each time, learning a tiny tiny lesson about what I can do to crash less hard.
Sometimes it’s as simple as going for a walk or seeing a friend. I try to tell my “not so nice friend” Guilt to bugger off – hard sometimes when he’s become best friends with my kids…
The goal is to catch myself before I start heading for the wall. I’m learning to identify some of the signs but still have a long way to go. For me, a big part of my balance and crash is about seeing friends. It’s about women together, sharing and realizing that we are all in the same boat. When I haven’t done this often enough, the spiral starts.
Lianne Bergeron is an author and entrepreneur who lives and works near Amsterdam with her Dutch husband and four kids. She’ll share her life abroad without family support, kids that speak Denglish and traditions that aren’t hers. Life with four kids and 10 bikes and her on-going quest to balance it all on her bicycle built for six. Follow her on Twitter and read more about her books at LiannesQuickGuide.com.