Is it really that hard? To find the balance I mean. The balance between work life, kid’s life, house life, your life. There’s no rule book, we know that, I’ve scoured the Amazon Best Sellers list a good few times looking for all the answers of how to juggle life, so maybe coming up with our own, unique way to make it work is the only answer?
When you break it down; Kids, house, work, chores, meals, exercise, health, bills, appointments, and all the rest, it’s a pretty daunting thought. We’ve all been there – too much to do, too little time, and other than trying ways to calm things down, there’s not a lot else we can do… You make your bed you lie in it as the saying goes. And it’s all well and good keeping up with the Jones’, they have it all under control, they live the good life, so let’s just copy them, but it doesn’t work that way. Everyone’s to-do lists and priorities are individual so finding your way of coping with all of life’s stresses has to be unique too.
I’m at the point in my life where I don’t really give a shit for a lot of things. Well, maybe that’s a bit harsh. It’s not that I don’t care, but I don’t let things that I can’t control, control me, like rude people for one, my biggest irritation but I’ve learnt lately to just let it go over my head and not let it annoy me. And take work for example. Things get done (or don’t get done), which I disagree with but as I’m not on the Board or don’t have a Porsche or Range Rover in my drive way (actually, I don’t have a driveway, go figure!), then my opinion doesn’t seem to make a difference. I could, as a Manager kick up a little fuss to let my voice be heard, but then ultimately it’s not my business, it’s not my money being wasted, and I can’t do anything to change their minds – It’s out of my control so let it go.
Of late, I’ve definitely been concentrating more on the important things in my life. Well I guess I always have to be fair, but lately maybe I’ve just been realising it more. Our few family European holidays this year have opened my eyes to how others live, which is a far cry from what I see as the rat race, materialistic life of the UK, and I think as I’m getting older, I’m just starting to think more about ways to slow down and keep it simple. So over the last month or so I’ve carved out a routine and a way of life that suits me, and works around my children and my work, and all fits into a 16hour day!
So here’s my play book…
I’ve always been a morning person, not a fan of a lie-in, not even on the weekends and I simply love getting up and out of bed early before the rest of the house is awake. If I’m not already awake with the sun streaming in at the moment (not complaining!), the alarm wakes me at 6:00am daily and my kit is out the night before, good to go. For me, a morning run is the best feeling! Breathing in the crisp, fresh air opens my mind and sets me up for all the to-do’s in the day ahead. Plus, an early-morning workout on an empty stomach is also said to help speed up weight loss and boost energy levels and exercising first thing in the morning pushes the body to tap into its fat reserves for fuel. Cardio is apparently the closest thing to a miracle drug and studies suggest that exercise like running can help protect you from some of the cognitive decline that occurs with age, besides strengthening the heart and lungs and tone up muscles. After my run, a protein shake is next followed by a glass of lemon water, some stretching and a smile in the mirror…. Which apparently, done daily, will change your life! (so says Yoko Ono!)
I’ve never been a great eater, can easily just have a side plate for my serving, used to live on cereal as a child, skipping meals as a teenager, but I’m not a bad one either. As a family we’re good, no fast food, Chinese, Indian, we don’t drink soft drinks at home and a bag of crisps are rare, although there is always some kind of ‘treat’ in the cupboards! Hubby is an awesome cook and healthy eating is something we all enjoy doing, it doesn’t feel forced, it’s almost a pastime. There are so many different diets out there to suit different types and for us parents, we fast, with the 16|8 regime, which involves fasting for 16 hours and eating for 8, which we start at 12noon. Large studies have found intermittent fasting to be just as reliable for weight loss as traditional diets.
When we do all eat together of an evening, it can be varied. We’re all massive fans of fish, chicken, veg, salads, fruit, don’t eat any red meat at home but eat a lot of protein and we all drink a lot of water throughout the day, the children’s packed lunches included. Your brain also needs nutrition and mixed with an exercise training programme, healthy eating is a must to see both the physical and mental results that a balanced diet can bring.
Other than the morning run, general exercise throughout the day shouldn’t be overlooked. Walking the children to school, a stroll to the shop and even if you’re at your desk a lot like me during the day, any movement such as walking upstairs to the bathroom, putting clothes in the machine or pegging the washing out all helps to get your heart pumping, which is something we should aim to do at least once every hour.
Not serving up your working day’s leftovers when 5pm hits is sometimes hard, it’s hard not to dump all that stress onto those around you and let any bad vibes you may have rub off on them, but for us, when we’ve clocked out, it’s all about the kids. I for one tend to feel re-energised when the kids are home from school, and they’re telling us all about their day and what they’ve been up to, and I make sure I switch off and actually listen to them. We’re not a massive board-game type family but we are all creative minded so grabbing out the art folder, pens, chalks, writing pads, and the digital apps on the iPad Pro are all regular family traditions we have here, just letting all of our minds run free after a busy day. Not having parents, family time is super important to me and I love nothing more than switching off from everything else and taking myself down to their level…. It’s so much more fun down there!
The best bit of my day. Hugging someone is proven to increase levels of oxytocin which is beneficial for stress levels and a healthy heart, and which elevates feelings of attachment, connection and trust. Another commonly mentioned benefit of hugging lies in our improved health, as when we are touched our heart rate, blood pressure, and levels of the harmful stress hormone are lowered, so hugging may not only make you feel better and give you that warm fussy feeling inside, but it also could make you live longer!
>Relaxation and Sleep:
So once the mini’s are in bed, it’s relaxation time. By now I’m probably approaching my 15th hour so 60mins before bed every night sees me with my head in a book, or in a hot steamy bath with a candle, or a bit of yoga and a face mask. 10mins of a meditation app before bed is next and by 10:00pm, my head is on that pillow. Sleep is such an important part of anyone’s day and has been proven to be just as significant as healthy eating and exercise.
Other than a good nights sleep increasing productivity, concentration and athletic performance, a full 8hours also helps with weight loss, with lessening heath disease and strokes, and avoids the factors associated with depression. If you, like me, live a crazy life of work, kids and everything that goes with it, then an 8hour sleep should be your aim. A time to let your body and mind relax after a busy day, let your muscles build back up as you rest, and to conjure up your energy for the next day when you do it all again!
Higher energy levels, clearer skin, reduced bloating and a lower body fat percentage are all benefits I’ve seen this last few weeks, and living a healthy, active lifestyle mixed with precious time with my family making memories is a massive part of who I am, and I thrive on it.
Maybe I shouldn’t plan it all out, maybe life shouldn’t be a scheduled blueprint, but life is too short and we only have one go at it, so I’m in if sticking to a routine means my day runs smoother, my work-life balance is spot on, and I can concentrate on the things that are important to me… the things I do give a shit about.