One of the most frequently asked questions I get is “How do you do it all? How do you balance it all as a WAHM?” It’s a common struggle. Managing home, kids, and your business — nevermind self care, a social life, your relationships or any kind of hobby — seems overwhelming at the best of times.
The short answer is: I don’t.
I don’t balance it all. To be honest, I don’t balance anything. I juggle my balls, trying not to drop the most fragile ones. And I’m generally rushing from one area of life to another, putting out fires and making it all work.
What is balanced is my attitude towards this chaotic life.
I manage my expectations.
I try to stay realistic with how much time I have to devote to particular areas of life. With kids at home, I know that I don’t have 8, 6, or even 4 uninterrupted hours to work. I also have tons of other obligations, commitments and priorities besides work, so I have to stay focused.
When my youngest daughter was born in 2017, I forgot this basic principle. And while I planned to take time off for the first few months, I had expected that I could “go back to normal” around 6 to 8 months after her birth.
So when that didn’t happen, I was extremely frustrated. The adjustment to adding one more child to my family was a lot harder than I had expected, and my expectations were way off. I fought against it for a bit, but eventually, I had to readjust my expectations. And when I did, things got that much easier.
I set priorities.
As a busy WAHM, I simply cannot do it all, all the time. I have to pick and choose what gets done in the time I have available. So every day, I’m setting my priorities. I choose my top 3 things that, if I can get those things done, I will feel like I accomplished something that day.
Sometimes, those three things are focused on my business. Sometimes they are house related. And sometimes they are personal. But I always set my priorities for each day, so that I can stay focused.
Why 3 priorities?
Because three things are doable. Setting just one priority is more than achievable, but then I usually end up “wasting” my time, because I fall into the trap of thinking I’m “done” for the day, rather than choosing a new priority.
Setting up more than 3 and I may struggle to finish those. You can’t predict what will happen during the day — a client has an emergency, a child throws up, or the fridge will stop working! I generally get three priorities done no matter what the emergency interruption, but more than that might make me stress more.
Your ideal priority number might not be 3, but whatever it is, keep it realistic. When my children were younger, I only had one priority, because my life was a blur of diaper changes and chasing toddlers. If you don’t have children at home, or your kids are older, you might find that 5 is your ideal number. Consider what stage of life you’re in and set daily priorities.
I make a plan
At the end of the day, one of the last things I do is write out my daily plan. I’m a huge proponent of planning, and I’ve developed a system of planning that turns my daily planning into a 5 minute or less task. For me, my daily plan is to write out my menu plan for the next day, which I copy from my weekly plan. Then I add in any household chores, which I copy from my chore checklist app. Next, I put in a rough time-blocked schedule of when I will do chores, work, and kid stuff.
Finally I write out my focus-goal, based on my 90-day business goal, and then set my top 3 priorities for the day.
The truth is, no one can do it all, all the time.
Balance is an illusion.
This mythical idea that you can stay on top of work obligations, never miss a moment in your child’s life and still keep an immaculate house, while cooking healthy meals and taking time for yourself, is one of the worst lies out there.
We all fall into this trap. We think that “if I can just..” make this one change, or get a handle on this one area, we could balance it all as a WAHM. And that’s simply not true!
Here’s the unvarnished truth: the laundry never gets “done.” There will always be more to do. Your blog, your business, your home, kids .. your life never “finishes” until you die. So instead of focusing on “finishing” the tasks, focus on doing the next thing, that keeps you from drowning.
The goal shouldn’t be to stay on top of everything, but instead to stay under everything. Like juggling, there’s always something in the air coming. And like every juggler, professional or not, sometimes those balls will drop. Just make sure the ball that drops isn’t glass. If you have to drop something, drop the ball that bounces.
How do you balance it all as a WAHM?
Get realistic. Manage your expectations, set priorities and make a plan. While you won’t be able to “balance it all”, you will be able to feel more in control. As you make better choices about how you use your time, and recognize that you’re making choices, that will keep away the feeling of overwhelm.
Balance may be an illusion, but you can still be in control of your life. You don’t have to balance it all as a WAHM. Just make choices.