When Balance…Isn’t (and Work/Shift Winner)

It was bound to happen.  After my oh-so-confident “Here’s how I do work-life balance” post last week, the whole thing kind of overflowed its boundaries.   A client rebranding/writing project turned out to be more time-consuming than it was originally scoped and required more work time than I anticipated, I wasn’t feeling well, insomnia struck, Jack unexpectedly had two doctors appointments, and the kids developed a mysterious allergy to mathematics.

What do you do when things get unbalanced?

When you work from home, or homeschool, or both, the fact is that balance often…isn’t.  The best-laid plans go awry.  Again, I don’t have this figured out by any means, but here are a few thing that help me when things get unbalanced:

  • Have a schedule, but don’t be a slave to it.  I love pre-planning our school weeks, but when we have a hard stretch of days, I remember that we can be flexible.  I had initially planned to finish our first quarter last week, but decided to give us all some grace and stretch it into this week.  And yet the sun still rose.
  • Accept the fact that I can’t do it all.   Even if I didn’t do any paid work or homeschool, and even if I only had one child or none at all, I still wouldn’t be able to do it all.  This weekend we had a fun outing planned, but a combination of soccer games, a pressing need to mow the lawn so our homeowner’s association wouldn’t take us to court, and my looming deadlines meant we had to skip it.  I was sad because it involved archery (yes, in addition to machine guns I have also been rather skilled with a recurved bow in my time) but adding another thing to the mix would have been WAY too much muchness.  There is always next year.
  • Ask for help.  The odd thing about husbands is that they don’t read minds.  I don’t know why this still surprises me.  Often when I get overwhelmed, it doesn’t occur to me to just ask my husband to do something.  And yet, when I do ask, he cheerfully and competently helps.  Of course he helps out generally without being asked, but in crunch times it really makes a difference to just say “could you play music with the kids for a bit so I can get through this section of my project?” or “Would you mind handling the kitchen cleanup tonight?”

And maybe balance isn’t all it’s cracked up to be anyway.  As Gretchen Rubin points out in Happier at Home (and Anne Bogel echoes in Work Shift), we don’t have to focus on balance, we can focus on filling our lives with things that matter to us.  At this stage of my life, my relationships with God and my family, educating my children, and becoming a better writer while honoring my commitments to my clients are more important to me than being a rockstar with a bow and arrow.

Part of being a working, homeschooling mom is giving myself grace to admit that while often everything works out, sometimes I can’t have it all.  And that’s just fine.

And now…back to Work Shift!

Remember Anne Bogel’s book that I reviewed and offered to give away?  The day is here!  Congratulations DEANNA, you won a copy of the book!  Email me your details and we’ll get your copy to you without delay!

Sad you didn’t win?  Fret not!  You can still order a copy of your very own directly from the author or through Amazon.

I’m curious, when your life gets unbalanced, what things help you keep your head on straight?


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  Also, the author of Work Shift sent me a complimentary review copy and is providing the giveaway copy referenced in this post.

One thought on “When Balance…Isn’t (and Work/Shift Winner)

  1. Hey Catherine,

    Just now catching up on some blog reading since my life has been tilted toward the work side for a while now. So balance. For me that means spending the amount of time (say over a month or a year) that I want to spend on the different activities in my life realizing that I can’t do everything. I think you can strive for and achieve balance if you do realize that you can’t do everything and if you take a longer view than a day or a week. If you have sort of set things up so that you are happy with the balance and then something disrupts it then obviously you have to let some things go or outsource and that is okay. I had a busy month at work and was spending more time there than I wanted to. I knew it would be temporary. Hubby picked up the slack on some things, I let some things slip to later, and I let some things go. If it’s only a month or so that works. Longer seasons of imbalance may require structural changes or more help.


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