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Too Tired to parent: Is Balance a Myth?

by Andrea Updyke

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This seemed like a good one to bring back during my season of rest. Are you struggling to find balance? Originally posted May 2011.



In the past couple weeks, I have been hearing a lot about living in balance, observing the Sabbath and getting rest in general. The first installment came from my Pastor in a sermon on the Sabbath a couple Sundays ago. Then my friend Sarah wrote a post about her struggles with observing rest and as I have been following Simple Mom’s series on running a successful home business, my head is just full of thoughts and questions. I find it a little bit amusing that I am writing this after a very relaxing weekend where my husband and I took our son and dog to stay with family and went to a hotel downtown for some good old fashioned R&R. We weren’t in search of anything fancy, really. We just wanted to eat out a couple times, sleep in and watch tv. In other words, we needed to REST.

I think we need to rest far more often than we do. And when I say we, I don’t just mean my family. I mean all of us. THE WORLD. There are a few things that stand out to me about the 3 links that I shared above. I don’t think I have ever considered myself a workaholic and I am not. But there are definitely changes that I can make in my life that will bring true rest when I need it and not just a steady stream of stress-inducing situations. Because let’s face it, you can have so-called “balance” in your life, but if you have taken on too much, it is too much. Even if you can juggle it all, that doesn’t mean it’s healthy.

Living in Seasons

This is a really difficult idea for me. I am a creature of routine and habit. I generally do the same things at the same times each day. When my life gets thrown for a loop, I am literally an emotional WRECK. When we moved it was months before I felt like myself again. And there are days when I look around this house that we’ve been in for 6 months and wonder if I will ever feel the same again. There are certainly other days when I feel at peace, but the fact remains that transitional periods are NOT my strong point.

Living in seasons simply means to pan out and see the big picture whether it be in quarters, months or certain times of year and plan accordingly. Be like the ant and not the grasshopper. Know winter is coming and get the hard work out of the way so you can eat while the snow falls, so to speak. This is not a new concept, but one I am just realizing I haven’t been listening to at least in the past few years. When a child comes into the picture, days turn into weeks and months and there seems to be a major loss of control. Keeping each daily routine feels like a victory. However, the deception is that each day just can’t be the same and that needs to be ok. Working with the busy seasons of life instead of against them benefits everyone.

Living Unplugged

This is a very sensitive subject for me. I don’t particularly care to be unplugged. We have our cell phones and our laptops and I run my business online. I also maintain many of my friendships, read the news, watch television, manage my bank accounts and do a lot of our shopping online. It wasn’t until our power was out for 3 days after last month’s tornadoes that I realized what a difference being “offline” makes in our lives. And believe me, it wasn’t this AHA moment when I suddenly realized what I had been missing. It was a very subtle creeping in of ways in which I could tweak things here and there to make better choices. We sat in the dark alot. We talked. We slept. In effect, we were forced to rest. And we needed it. In a world where even our supposed “rest time” is plugged in, your body and mind isn’t really resting. It’s ingesting more information, more colors, more sounds. We need a lights out from time to time. And that is just not easy for me.

Living with Schedules

As a creature of habit and routine, you would think that schedules and organization are MY THING. You would be wrong. SO wrong! I bristle at the idea of scheduling my time, much less my weeks and months. I think this is a direct result of the fact that I never really feel rested. The schedule to me says, Everything is planned! Nothing is spontaneous! You will never sleep in again! But I am coming to realize (again probably later than most) that a schedule can actually BRING freedom instead of sucking the life out of me. Who knew? We all know that we should go to bed at some point in the evening. Our bodies get tired and we just can’t do anymore. But how many of us are pushing it to the very last minute?

How often do we decide to write just one more blog post or start a movie too late because we need that time to ourselves? I honestly think that if my days and weeks were better scheduled, I might not push myself to stay up until midnight to get my “me time” knowing that Oscar will be up at 7am rain or shine. When mama is tired, no one wins. With this one, I am starting small. I bought a white board a couple weeks ago and I have sectioned off a portion for housework and various tasks that I am responsible for at home. I split them out by day and I know exactly what I need to do. Today it was groceries. Tomorrow, I will work on the floors. It’s simple, it’s effective and when I am done, I know I can move on to something else.

This week I will be working on an editorial calendar for the blog and planning ahead for when the baby comes so that I can ease up during that season of change. I am a good mom. I don’t feel that I need validation in that area. I adore my son and I can’t wait to meet our new little boy. But I am indeed a tired mom. Balance isn’t working for me. Juggling fifty plates in the air just because I am gifted at multi-tasking doesn’t make me more valuable. I don’t want to NEED my morning coffee. I just want to enjoy it. I want to find rest and I want to make it a regular part of each day because it is important.

Do you fight for your rest? Do you need make room for a Sabbath?

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Erin L May 16, 2011 - 2:16 pm

This is fantastic my friend! I do think that living a balanced life is a myth. It’s always heavy handed — kids, marriage, work. You’ll never give 50/50. Some days one gets 100% and you need to be ok that something else gets that 100% another day…at least that is my two cents. I’m sticking to it to save my sanity.

Chele May 16, 2011 - 2:34 pm

Love this! I am also a creature of habit. Even when my teens try to add another thing last minute to do after school… I’m a mess! I want to know ahead of time. I don’t like surprises! LOL. Anyhow, I agree we all need to take time for some R&R… weekly! This just might be my favorite post in a long time. 🙂

Sarah May 16, 2011 - 3:05 pm

Yes, yes, yes!! I definitely live in seasons. The difficult part for me is figuring out when God wants me to switch seasons! I’ve been saying lately that multi tasking is so overrated! But I’m so accustomed to it that I’m afraid I can’t concentrate on just one thing anymore! I’m trying to get back to that!

Shayla @Courageous Hope May 16, 2011 - 3:25 pm

There’s a lot of good thoughts here! Thanks for sharing! I know that I am constantly trying to evaluate my use of time and including rest and priorities etc… when you have a 4 year old and 19 month old… the “routine” so often gets out of whack that I then begin to give up on the routine all together, which NEVER works out for me. Seasons…. i’ve had lots of thoughts on seasons lately too. There are so many seasons in a woman’s life. I struggle with wanting to rush this season in order to get to the next one, but really I need to surrender to this season and all the life it brings now!

Jennifer May 16, 2011 - 3:42 pm

The whiteboard is a great idea. I have had mine for about 5 months now and I schedule everything for our family on there. It’s pretty much the same schedule every day (breakfast, snack, tv time, activity of the day, lunch, nap, etc) but insert a chore for the day and an activity for the day at a specific time. I have learned that during the time slot for the activity of the day, I need to slow down and do something low key. Maybe a nature walk around the block instead of a playdate across town. I’m much more relaxed this way. It’s sometimes too stressful to pack everyone up. Having to fill the sippy, change and pack diapers, find the missing shoe and get somewhere at a specific time. Really not worth it sometimes. I’m a better mom by not overextending myself and my kids don’t care if they are playing with rocks out back or at the latest kids event.

Living the Balanced Life May 16, 2011 - 4:37 pm

When your post came across my tweetstream I knew I had to read it. Obviously balance is something we all struggle with. And just because we CAN have it all doesn’t mean we should, or can, in a helathy manner.
I agree that you are right about most of us pushing ourselves until late in the evening. I am working hard to turn it off and unplug much earlier than I have been.
It is such an irony that I have to keep going back and rereading the posts I write for my readers for myself, to remind me of my own words, lol!
Thanks for sharing!

Kiona May 16, 2011 - 9:01 pm

I so agree that some kind of a balance is needed, especially in a mom’s life, especially in a business- owning moms life. I don’t think balance is a myth, I just think it’s more of a relative term. Balance looks different for everyone. For me I know that I can’t thrive unless I put myself on some kind of schedule. I don’t truely feel freedom and restful until I know what I can expect next, HOWEVER, spontaneity is something I also absolutely need. So I balance (hah!) those two seemingly contradicting needs by having a schedule, but yet giving myself the freedom to completely blow it out of the water at times in favor of something spontaneous (which happens a LOT), but the awesome thing about knowing there is some kind of schedule in place is that you can breathe easy, because whatever you just skipped by being spontaneous is still going to get done eventually. And the best part is that I literally schedule rest time. And it works.

Lisa May 18, 2011 - 10:03 am

Balance is really an oxymoron. What I’m looking for is just time to be. Like everyone I know, my schedule is insane, I work all the time and feel as if I never get anything accomplished.

That is why I’m taking steps back, going back to using my planner, revamping my editorial calendar and just taking time to be. Scheduling it in the so I have that necessary downtime. It’s essential and if we don’t have it? Will find ourselves in the same place. And burnout city is not a side of town I like to hang out in.

Melissa {momcomm} May 18, 2011 - 3:22 pm

Such a wonderful and open post, Andrea! I struggle with this daily. I keep saying “when I get past this, it’ll get easier…” Well, I’ve been saying that for months! I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel though (I think?) and hopefully, I can get a little more balanced. I think it’s important for us to constantly re-evaluate our goals and how we’re getting there. If something’s not helping (and not meeting another need) then we let it go. Making choices is the key to balance– now if I can just make the dang choices!

Heir to Blair May 18, 2011 - 4:58 pm

oh, how I needed to hear this today.

Lately I have the urge to just REST. To eat healthy food, read a book, relax in the sunshine, & unplug to just REST. I miss being able to fall asleep without thinking of the next day’s to-do list & how I will cram it all in.

Jenny June 1, 2011 - 9:16 am

I’ve been meaning to respond to this post for a while now…

Unlike {it seems} most of the women who have responded, I don’t have kids, yet I feel like scheduling is something we cannot grasp! I would think that kids have one running in so many directions that it should be a cake walk for my husband and I to schedule our time. Not. the. case.

I love Lisa’s comments about “going back.” Back to using a planner, etc. Scaling back is something we are slowly learning, but I’m a social person… there’s always a fear in me that if we don’t do this, or go there or see these people that we are going to just fall off the face of the earth! What’s sad then, is that this kind of schedule keeps me from being a better friend, a better wife, a better me. I do feel like a schedule will give me some of that freedom I’m seeking… then again, so would working a 4-day work week! 😉

And Melissa’s comments about re-evaluating goals… I think she’s so right on! For me, though, it is so exhausting re-evaluating, re-thinking the strategy on how to get there and then dealing with any kind of failure that comes with not reaching a goal. Or not even being able to take steps toward it because the goal itself seems paralyzing.

Wow… I think I have a lot of think about! Thanks for the post!

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