I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. I don’t make them. Not just because they are doomed to fail, but it’s the sort of have-to pressure that I don’t want during the most stressful time of the year. But here we are two weeks into 2011, so I guess it’s safe to set some goals, somthing I do periodically anyway, whenever I find that the status quo is no longer working.
Here is my goal for the next few months: BALANCE.
Parents wear a lot of hats during their days. Moms especially — yes, I know this is a generalization, that there are exceptions, but no matter who is at home or the primary caregiver, most kids instinctively turn to Mom for what they need. My own, for instance, will seek me out in my home office to ask for some juice, even though their very involved, hands-on dad is in the kitchen with them. Go figure.
Back to parents and their hats. Every day we assume any number of responsibilities — wage earner, chef, chauffer, tutor, playmate, negotiator, mediator, friend, spouse, etc. You know. The trick is to do them at once, and well. This sort of thing has always been called “multitasking.” A often-used metaphor is juggling.
I prefer the metaphor of crossing a high-wire between two skyscrapers — while carrying cups and saucers carefully stacked on one another. Balance is crucial. One misstep and everything, including you, tumbles.
So my non-resolution is to be better with balancing. My old strategy of trying to do everything every day has failed. Even when I tried doing just a little of everything, because by the end of the day I’d be left with tasks partially completed, worries that not enough time was spent with the kids, and resentment because I never did get back to my writing (which is almost always the first thing to get sidelined.)
Balance — my new strategy. How about this? Schedule my days to focus on one thing (I should clarify that I’m really only talking about when the kids are not home, because once they are….well, you know the chaos). Monday, volunteer in kindergarten classroom. Tuesday, picture book writing. Wednesday, essays. Thursday, house cleaning. Friday, long fiction. (All this is taking into consideration that there are just some things that have to get done every day, like 2 loads of laundry, dishes, errands, kid stuff, etc.). Maybe if I can walk that tightrope with fewer cups, I’ll be less likely to fall.
How do you balance? I could use some advice!