Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Balancing Act

Balancing Act
What does it look like for you?
by Arwen Mosher

This week, we’ve got something going on every day: three playdates, Camilla’s Atrium catechism class, and the ballet-class/playgroup that meets in our living room.

I know that by Friday my laundry pile will have grown to an enormous size, but in the meantime we are having a very fun week. I’m energized and happy and the days are passing quickly. During weeks when we’re cooped up in the house with a cold, the days most definitely do not pass quickly.

For a long while I’ve had an ideal in my head of what a week *should* look like for our family in this stage of our lives. If I could plan each one perfectly, every week would have one playdate, one or two scheduled activities like ballet or Atrium, at least one “laundry day” when we’ll be home the whole time, and at least one unscheduled day when we could roll with whatever happened.

Ideally, we’d always be home and organized in the late afternoons so that I could have dinner on the table promptly at dinner-time. I’d never forget to say Morning Prayer. My kitchen floor would be spotless. No one would ever spill a glass of milk. My children would be obedient at all times. Some random stranger would write me a check for a million dollars.

Okay, so clearly that’s a fantasy. But seriously, I have been seeking what I think of as “balance” in our day-to-day life, not because I necessarily feel unbalanced, but because of this ideal I have. It’s like how I try to make a plate look pretty when I’m arranging food on it. I wanted my life to look pretty.

Especially in the wintertime when the kids get sick a lot, though, this has been hard to accomplish. With our runny noses and hacking coughs, we’ve spent weeks at a time in the house during recent months. Yes, I’ve had plenty of time to get the laundry done. (We won’t talk about whether I’ve actually gotten it done.) On the other hand, we’ve been going stir-crazy.

This past Sunday we were all healthy and I had a phone in my hand, so I started calling friends to arrange to get our kids together to play. Before I knew it, I’d made plans for Monday through Friday. As I came out of my dialing frenzy and realized what I’d done, I had a moment of hesitation. Should I cancel some stuff? Such a busy week - especially completely self-inflicted - doesn’t mesh well with my ideals of perfect balance. I kept the plans, though, and I’m glad I did.

I’ve read that when you’re considering a child’s diet to see if it’s sufficient and balanced, you can’t just count one day. You have to watch what the child eats for a least a week, because that’s what matters, that the diet be balanced over the course of a week. Any particular day is not so important.

This week is turning out to be joyful and rejuvenating for us, and it is teaching me that I need to apply that principle to my family’s life, too. Balance is good. Perhaps, though, it is actually more effective to seek balance month by month instead of week by week. There are circumstances that are outside our control, and we have to work with what we’ve got. So this week we’ll be out of the house every day, and next week we’ll probably have caught another cold from one of this week’s outings, and be forced to stay in. Neither week will meet my previous ideal of what a balanced week should look like, but over the course of both of them we’ll have had time to play and time to rest, and all will be well.

What does “balance” look like in your family? Have you ever had to adjust your definition or application, and how?

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