Finding My Balance

I remember when I first learned to ride a bike. Those first few times, the wheels wobbled because I was afraid to really try. Afraid I might fall. I didn’t realize that not giving it my whole effort made the wheels wobble more. Not surprisingly, I fell.  But then, I found my courage. And my balance. Trusted the bike to hold me up & pushed those pedals around, steady and strong. Suddenly, I was joy. Free. The wind blew my hair behind me and I knew that nothing in the world could stop me!

That’s how it usually goes whenever I face a new challenge. I try. Sometimes afraid. I wobble, maybe fail. But if I have the courage to keep trying, I will find again that feeling of flying. A goal accomplished. Everything feels right in the world.

I’ve never made New Year’s resolutions because by their very nature, they seem doomed to failure before they start. However, this year our family has decided to make a new year’s goal together that can be summed up in one word: balance.  Between my husband working on finishing his PhD and keeping up with a new job, all of us learning to live in a brand new part of the the country, me keeping the house running while homeschooling our three girls, and trying not to worry about money, we have a lot of things to juggle! And some days, quite honestly, we feel like we’re wobbling all over the place and we’ll never get it right. For us, balance means we make small, but (hopefully) significant changes to our daily routine over the course of the year that will help us keep everything in perspective & focus on what really matters.

Here are a few of my small, practical and totally reasonable personal goals for this year that will help me find my balance.

1. Wake up before the girls. Every morning, not just when we have to go somewhere. This means, of course, that I will have to actually get up when my alarm goes off and not a half hour later. You probably already have this one down, but I’ve always been the stay up late and sleep in kind of gal. But this is the year I change that. I read somewhere that getting to the classroom early allows a teacher to set the tone for the day. But no matter how much preparation is done the night before, if a teacher gets to the classroom at the last minute or heaven forbid after some of the kids, then the children decide how the day will go. Since my house is our classroom, I think the same goes here. When I wake up early, get dressed & ready for the day and if I’m really on top of things have breakfast ready with a smile when they get up, I am setting a positive mood and tone for the day. But if they are up first, pull all the toys out of the toy box, or start a massive art project with glitter, scissors and glue while I’m in the shower, I’ve let them decide for me that I will have a stress-filled day.

2. Get (and keep) the kids involved with the daily kitchen chores. There’s only so much a Mom can do in a day. Especially when Mom is also the school teacher. Have you ever tried to prepare 3 meals a day and clean up after while simultaneously whipping up a science experiment, checking English worksheets and getting ready for history lessons (not to mention keeping track of a busy preschooler)? If you are anything like me, something has to give. And around here it’s usually the housework. Except that you can’t leave the dishes on the table or counter for later when the table and counter are where you do school. Well, you can try, but it isn’t pretty. Or conducive to learning. Don’t ask me how I know this.

Each of my three girls now has a daily kitchen job to be done immediately before or after each meal. I assigned their jobs according to age & ability. Yes, even the almost 4 year old. She gets to run the Eureka Superbroom to suck up the crumbs under the table. She thinks this is awesome and so do I since most of the mess is hers & I don’t have to clean it up anymore 🙂 The eight year old and she would want me to tell you that she’s almost a 7 year old are helping with the table, counter and dishwasher. This means less overall stress for me and teaching life lessons, to boot. I think that’s a win-win.

3. Get ready for morning the night before. I’ve been doing this for a long time when it comes to getting things ready for Sunday mornings. Before going to bed on Saturday night, I have the girls’ clothes laid out, church bags ready by the door, coffee ready to brew, breakfast dishes on the table and all non-refrigerated food items staged for go time. If I’m really on the ball, I’ll even get my shower out of the way the night before. I’m always impressed with how smoothly it all goes on Sunday mornings as we are getting ready for church. I guess I’m a little slow in figuring out I should be doing this every morning. It seems like a small thing, but it makes everything easier and without feeling like the morning is half-gone before everybody is dressed and has eaten breakfast.

I have one more goal that I’m working on this year, but it deserves a post all it’s own. In the meantime, I’ll be wobbling working, slow and steady on keeping these three goals. It should be no worse than learning to ride a bike, right?

Have you set any new goals for yourself this year? I’d love to hear about them!

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