The balancing act of life is a tricky one… this much I know.
Recently, I’ve been swamped with tasks and demands from all directions and areas of my life. I wouldn’t call it onerous, but it has been a formidable experience. The impressive amount of effort to be a husband, father, an employee, a student, an entrepreneur, and writer has brought about a very humble side of me that knows I am not the center of the universe.
I haven’t had much time to work on my column, barely got to work on my book, scraped by my class assignments, I have a lot of work to do at my job for a certification I’m working on (plus I’m still learning in my new position of 2 months), my new born requires lots of attention, my 2 year old requires a lot of attention, and my wife deserves a lot of attention. My fitness has reluctantly taken a spot on the back-burner and chores around the house are tackled on an as-needed-basis.
SO… what’s a person to do with all of this going on around them? Balance it out, that’s what. Now, I’m no pro at life, but I’ve learned a thing or two about becoming patient. I didn’t always have patience, nor did I always use all the patience I was equipped with. This was something I had to learn and then learn to practice. I realized that with all this commotion going on in my mind (and sometimes in the kitchen), I had to take a second to look at it all and prioritize what was most important.
Family came first. I took unpaid time off from work when my newborn was born so I could stay with my wife in the hospital and then at home to help out as much as I could. Bless her soul, she handles sleep deprivation WAY better than I do. I’m fortunate to have her as my wife because she’s a true champ. As the next month unfolded, I knew my son was going to feel the shift in attention. He went from center stage to sharing it with his new baby sister. My wife and I talked about this and we came to the conclusion that we would need to exercise hyper-vigilance with our son’s needs. This meant caring for our newborn while sustaining the undivided attention that he’s received for two straight years. We decided to divide and conquer. I would focus on our boy since baby needs Mom more than Dad. We would switch for short periods of time so neither child would be deprived of the other parent. I think we managed an 80/20 rule with this course of action pretty well. The hard part is I’m back to work while she’s home on maternity leave and that means she juggles the two children alone until I return home. This 80/20 rule only applies while I’m home. Like I said, she’s a true champ.
When mentioning family, marriage is included in that idea, so I knew my wife would need attention too. I’m not the perfect man, but I tried to be as helpful as I could. I would cook or bring home food so my wife didn’t feel like she needed to prepare any meals, I tried to keep up with cleaning (dishes, sweeping, laundry, etc) so that the house wouldn’t become a complete disaster. I tried to bring her things like water, a plate of food, diapers, wipes, spit-up blankets, baby clothes, and similar things just to try and make life a little easier for her. I would wake up early on the weekends to take our son out in hopes my wife would be able to sleep a little longer in the morning. I even started giving my wife foot massages with the huge tub of A&D ointment we use for the babies’ bums during diaper changes. Try it out, it softens the skins so well. The point is, I tried to ease the demands of life at home with my family.
At work I learned to focus on what was important. I would go in early so I could use the quiet time to study for the certification exams before the office became loud and busy. This also allowed me to leave a little earlier than normal on some days so I could be home to try and help out more.
With school, I worked on a little bit of course work each day so I could chip away from the weekly chunk of time it normal took away from my Sunday mornings. This tactic helped reduce the time I’d be locked down in school work anywhere from two to four hours per week.
My book and website took second to last place on the list of important things. I have a SMART goal for finishing my book by the end of 2017 and so far I’m still on track. I haven’t forgotten about this goal and its work because I value it. In reference to “The Art of Non‑Conformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change” a book by Chris Guillebeau, this is my Legacy Work.
Fitness… well, you’ve always been my go-to for everything, but right now is not the best time. I value fitness, and I write about it in my book and it’s a component to my 7&7 System, however, priorities have shifted in my life right now and I know that this is temporary. I’m fortunate to have been active all my life and have pretty good genes so I can afford to put fitness on hold for now. Some push-ups here, some pull-ups there, a quick 10 minutes on a stationary bike during my lunch break… it’s not my kind of workout, but it’s better than no workout! My family comes first and my wife and I will be back to working out together before we know it.
So although I’ve had moments of hopelessness, frustration, exhaustion, and desperation, I’ve learned to just work with what I have, give it my best, and be grateful that I have all that I currently have. I’m not perfect, as I mentioned before, but I do have the ability to make choices, and these choices will benefit my family and I as long as I simply balance everything out properly.
© 2017 Clinton N. Downs