Mothers seem to have one over arching priority each day…to make it through the day! This is a consequence of having been ripped in a thousand different directions on any given day for years. It’s this truth that underscores the need for moms to discover sanity in their daily living. Yet, the more our lives and attention spans are segmented by home, children, marriages, careers etc. the easier it becomes to lose our grip on serenity and begin to take on the appearance of a whirling dervish.
I think for moms to regain a sense of sanity in their lives, to manage this great balancing act, they must learn how to properly juggle. I offer this analogy:
1. When deciding to juggle, the juggler must decide how many and what types of balls to juggle, taking in to consideration weight, shape, size etc. Like the jugglers, moms need to make some decisions and choices, to spend some time clarifying and organizing what exactly is a priority in their lives. What balls have to be juggled, which balls would we like to include and which ones are purely optional. We have to ask ourselves what matters most? Only juggle what matters, to throw an unnecessary ball in the air is a waste of time and energy.
“It’s not so much how busy you are, but why you are busy. The bee is praised, the mosquito is swatted.” ~ Mary O’Connor
2. Having carefully selected how many balls and more specifically which balls to juggle, the craft of how to juggle becomes important. Moms know they can throw all the balls in the air but sanity lies in how we keep them in the air, what action we take to prevent them from crashing to the ground. It’s called FOCUS…
“To do two things at once is to do neither” ~ Publilius Syrus
Have you ever noticed where a professional juggler will cast his gaze? He isn’t looking upward at the swirling motion of balls in the air, attempting to track each balls movement simultaneously. Instead, the focus is fixed on receiving the ball, handling the ball then putting the ball back into motion before receiving the next ball. Notice that it is one ball received and put back into motion at a time, no attempt is made to catch two balls simultaneously. My own personal experience has demonstrated, repeatedly, that if I take my eye off the ball in hand, it all comes crashing down or if I try to attend to two balls, there is a reasonably good chance one ball will drop while the other is only scarcely caught.
“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance and order and rhythm and harmony”
3. If a balls gets dropped (and it happens) we carefully pick the ball back up and put it back in motion.
4. With practice, a consistent cadence and rhythm of timing, spacing and movement emerges. We begin to trust that the ball will land squarely in our hand and be put back into motion with fewer balls dropped less often.
I don’t intend to over simplify the act of managing the many and often multiplying areas of our lives. I am more interested in offering a solution that I have found works well for me. When I sit down with my little ones after school to do homework, I am 100% into that activity. If the phone rings, I do not answer it (unless it is something super important I have been waiting anxiously for). When I shift my energy to cooking dinner, I am 100% in that task. I avoid cooking dinner, sorting laundry, quizzing my son on his math facts while resolving a work issue on the phone. Can I multi task like this? Yep- just as you can. Does this leave me exhausted- yep- and irritable most days. When I choose to begin my day brushing my teeth only to rush to the bed to make it, only to stop and help my girl tie her shoes before rushing to cram lunch boxes into back packs only to begin choking on the tooth brush that is still dangling from my face- my day is likely to be a series of chaotic responses to the world around me. Whether I choose to get swept up in chaos or to maneuver my day focusing on my priorities in a way that is productive, I arrive at the end of the day with nearly all of my tasks completed. The difference is, when I am living intentionally, carefully selecting which balls to keep in the air, focusing on one ball at a time, giving it 100% I arrive at the end of my day feeling satisfied, calmer and with fewer regrets.
“Wisdom is your perspective on life, your sense of balance, your understanding of how the various parts and principles apply and relate to each other”
~Steven R. Covey