What does it mean to take back your life? When was the last time you felt you had control over your work/life balance and were successfully juggling all of your responsibility balls in the air? Don’t worry.
You’re not alone if your answer was “NEVER!”
Between jobs, families, trying to stay healthy and those burdensome “invisible workload” items that keep us awake at night, women often spend time doing one or two tasks while worrying about ten others simultaneously. How can we stop this, cut down our stress and feel we are controlling our time and taking back our life with so many demands on us? These suggestions to take back your life won’t solve all your problems, but they should help:
Make to-do lists and schedules
Then stick to them. Yes, it’s structured and regimented, but it also works. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, make a list of the things that you must do each week and a list of the things you want to do or enjoy. It’s critical to include both! Schedule each item on your list in a weekly agenda. Creating a master plan often helps our brains feel confident that tasks are manageable, especially when those tasks have a defined space on our life radar. Many women even book alone time with their partners! If your lists are greater than the hours available, it may be time to get tough with what you perceive to be your priorities or analyze how much time you spend on your tasks and leisure activities.
Delegate, delegate, delegate
If your to-do lists are long ones, look for places to carve away things other people can do, as you may simply be taking on too much for those around you. Are your kids older than two? They can help around the house, trust me. Giving them little jobs teaches responsibility and it soon leads to bigger, more helpful jobs. It doesn’t take long before they are helping out enough for you to have a bit more time to relax. Turning small chores into a game is a great introduction and if your older kids have never done much around the house – it’s time for them to earn those smart-phones, allowances or rides to the mall you provide! As adults, we are painfully aware that few things in life are free and while it’s crucial to make our kids feel loved, it’s also a parental job to ensure they understand the value of working to earn things they want or need.
What about at your job? Do you have a co-worker who needs help in an area you’re well-versed? Maybe you have a project or task that same co-worker could assist with in exchange. Discuss your strengths and weaknesses with colleagues over coffee or lunch and pool your resources. Dividing and conquering breaks down daunting tasks quickly and easily.
You can do the same with household duties and domestic partners. Make lists of the jobs you’re each good at or enjoy, then divide accordingly, while equally splitting or take turns doing the work nobody can stand. If you’re single and a parent, network with other single parents who are willing to trade play date time or who may be willing to work as a team with you to do necessary household chores – like yard work – at both your homes.
Manage your expectations
The truth is, there really isn’t a true work/life balance. Sometimes everything you’ve got is going towards your job, while other times, your personal life is all-encompassing, and the other half of your life never waits patiently for you. Try to stay in the moment and breathe. Don’t agonize if one area isn’t getting all of your attention. If you have a crazy week at work and have barely seen your kids, schedule some time with them to have a fun day on the weekend, as well as some me-time once the kids are in bed like a Netflix binge with wine. Banish any guilt or thoughts about what you “should” be doing.
Life can get crazy and time is often in short supply. Feeling in control of your life and balance is never easy, so go easy on yourself. Try to focus on everything you do accomplish and accept that good enough is still good.