I had the wonderful opportunity on February 2, 2012, to listen to a fantastic parenting webinar titled Parent It Forward by Life and Career Coach, Kent Julian, who is founder of liveitforward.com. He talked about a strategy that has worked for him for years while trying to balance marriage, parenting, career, and activities.
I have been struggling with a way to maintain the balance of being a wife and mother effectively when my workload has been so demanding over the past few months. I have felt like I have failed more times than succeeded in achieving and then maintaining some semblance of balance.
Encouragement was offered along these lines by focusing on two major keys. The first one dealt with giving up the stress of daily balance. According to Kent, trying to balance your home, work, and activities on a daily basis will do nothing short of drive you crazy. Some days you will have to work longer hours, other days your children will demand more of your time, and still at other times, you and your spouse might spend a weekend away, taking you away from your children and work for a much needed reprieve.
Instead, he suggested a person focus on weekly, monthly, quarterly, and/or yearly balance. That will look different for each person depending upon their circumstances, but the results should be the same. Obviously, a teacher needs to give more nine months of the year to her classroom while an accountant works extremely long hours approximately four months out of the year. Other people who have grueling 9-5 jobs year round will have more focused time in the evenings or on the weekends to devote to their families and other activities.
So, how then, do you keep everyone happy when your schedule can be so crazy? That is where the second strategy comes into play. This key point, equally if not more important than the first, is described as focused attention. When spending time with your spouse, do not let distractions such as email or Facebook divide your interests. If it is time to be with your children, then focus on an activity that they enjoy instead of halfheartedly sitting next to them on the couch while they watch a movie and you fall asleep. If it is time to work, ignore the phone, minimize your emails, and concentrate on the task at hand. When you are with your friends or engaged in another activity, give 100% of yourself to those relationships or that project while you are there.
Kent explained that when he started putting these principles into practice, not only was he able to get more accomplished in a shorter amount of time (when working for instance), but his family never felt slighted or like their dad did not care because they knew that when he was around, he was 100% focused on them.
I have to admit: I tried it out the day after I participated in the seminar, and not only did it seem to make a difference in my children’s behavior, but I enjoyed each activity that I was doing that much more. I did not feel as guilty when I had to work, having rules in place that now was not the time for my children to tell me about the latest game they were playing. Instead, I knew, as did they, that when my work was completed for the day, they would get their turn, enjoying every minute of it. And, that is exactly what we did.