BALANCE: How Do I Find It?

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“Be aware of wonder.  Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.” – Robert Fulghum

We all need balance in our lives.   All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy – this old saying definitely holds true today. 

But what is balance?

The dictionary defines balance as harmony, a state in which nothing is out of proportion or unduly emphasized at the expense of the rest.

There is no standard “one size fits all” spreadsheet for balance because we are all unique individuals with different needs and different situations.  However, to optimize the quality of our lives, we can take a look at how we spend our days (and nights).  Are you working too many hours?  Do you tend to let certain activities slide due to lack of time?  How much TV is watched in your home?  Please don’t get me wrong…I enjoy watching TV…but I also realize that if we don’t put the TV on in the evening, I get so much done.  And when I look at my watch, it is only 9PM.  But I do have to admit that my time spent on the computer these days often occupies an unbalanced proportion of my day…so much so that it becomes the wee hours of the morning when I finally feel I am done.   SO NOT GOOD!  This weekend I plan to sit down to evaluate how I am utilizing that time and hopefully I can produce a more BALANCED schedule that will be better for me AND my family.

I guess we can go back to the dictionary definition of balance: a state in which nothing is out of proportion or unduly emphasized at the expense of the rest.  So, if your family enjoys watching a show on TV, that is great…but perhaps when the show is over, you can participate in other activities…maybe a read-aloud story-time.  If there are older children, perhaps they can take turns with the adults reading to the younger children, although studies show that older children really enjoy being read to.  Or maybe have a family board game night?

According to Catherine Pulsifer in “We Never Seem to Have Enough Time”,

“We need to maintain a proper balance in our life by allocating the time we have.”

So here are a few simple ways to keep track of how you are allocating your time.

1.     Use a notebook to list your long-term and short-term goals.

2.     Make a to-do list each night for the next day…you will sleep better each night and you won’t realize late in the next day that you’ve forgotten to do something important.  For me, writing down what I need to do gives me peace of mind.

3.     Set up a daily routine or schedule, especially if you have children.  Life can get really chaotic if you don’t have a plan in place.

Do you have a daily routine or schedule in place?  Stop by tomorrow for a look at the successful routine I used with my daycare group and my own family when my children were small.

MOMMY, WHERE ARE YOU?

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One of the biggest surprises of motherhood is the 24/7 factor.  For nine months, the ears of mothers-to-be are filled with horror stories and tales of sleepless nights and endless days of diapering, rocking and feeding.  But somehow, it doesn’t really make an impression until that first sleepless night or endless day.

Maybe that’s how we are wired…otherwise there might be fewer mothers-to-be.

Please don’t misunderstand me.  I LOVED being a mother and actually enjoyed many of the nights I sat in the rocking chair, baby in my arms and a good book in my hands.  But I know there were days (and nights) when I almost wished I could change my name…mommy, mommy, MOMMY, MOMMY…where are youuuuuuuuu??????

I say almost, because my children have been great joys in my life…now they are grown (two with children of their own) and all of them make me proud that I can say I am their mom.

It’s true, though, that sometimes, as our children are growing up, we may feel we have a shadow…a constant companion, whether we like it or not.  How about when you are shopping and have to use the restroom…of course your child MUST come in the stall with you, especially these days!  And even at home, many children like to be with mommy wherever she is in the house.  This may get a little tiresome, but how would you feel if you turned around, expecting your child to be right behind you, and she was not there? 

The following picture book story suggestion addresses this topic.  It’s a classic in children’s literature from 1948.

BLUEBERRIES FOR SAL written and illustrated by Robert McCloskey

One summer day, a little girl named Sal goes with her mother to pick blueberries on Blueberry Hill.  Since she eats the blueberries almost as quickly as her mother picks them, her mother tells Sal to pick some of her own.  Meanwhile, a bear cub is also on a blueberry hunt with his mother.  Both Sal and Little Bear become separated from their own mothers and inadvertently begin following the wrong mother.  Fortunately, the mix-up is resolved and both Sal and Little Bear are reunited with the correct parent.

Very young children often get anxious when they lose sight of their parents because they are afraid their parents will never return.  This story reassures young children that even if that happens (or their parents leave them at daycare when they go to work or with a sitter when they go out for the evening), the separation will only be a temporary one.

 

After reading the story, perhaps you might want to try this simple cooking activity with your child.  Participating positively with young children creates a life-long parent-child bond.

CHILD-FRIENDLY BLUEBERRY MUFFINS

I can still hear the “plink-plink” as the first blueberries of the season my children picked made their way into the containers.  At the time, we lived in an old farmhouse in a small Connecticut town.  The backyard was a paradise of fruit trees and, best of all, over one hundred blueberry bushes.  Here is the blueberry muffin recipe we used.

You will need: 1 cup fresh blueberries, ½ cup sugar, 1 ½ cups flour, ½ tsp baking soda, ½ cup canola oil, 2 eggs beaten, ½ cup milk, 2 bowls and one 12-cup muffin tin.

1.     Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Lightly grease the muffin cups.  Rinse off the blueberries.

2.     In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar and baking soda.

3.     In a small bowl, combine oil, milk and beaten eggs.

4.     Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until just blended.

5.     Fold blueberries into the batter and pour batter into prepared pan, filling each cup about 2/3 full.

6.     Bake 18-20 minutes or until muffins are lightly browned and cooked through.  Insert a toothpick into the center of a muffin…muffins are done if it comes out clean.  Turn out of the pan and cool on a rack.   Store in an airtight container.  The muffins retain their heat for awhile…please let them cool and then cut in half before serving to a young child.

Do you enjoy the combination of story suggestion and related activity?  It certainly helped my days feel more organized when my children were growing up.  A simple schedule helps bring balance and order to what can often be a chaotic day.

“Be aware of wonder.  Life a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.” – Robert Fulghum

Stop by tomorrow for a look at some tips on keeping balance in your life…one day at a time.