I’ve been participating in a discussion, started by David Seah’s attempts to come up with a form to help balance his life. Lots of suggestions about what parts might need balancing, and how to plan and record it.
At first, I was all gung-ho, and thought about what parts in my life aren’t balanced. Most of my forms have to do with balancing housework. More specifically, the frequency with which each task needs doing. There’s also a column for exercise, which often gets marks via housework or walking with the moms after dropping the kids off at school.
I have to admit, though, that some areas of my life need a bit more work. Right now, son’s in his room alone while I’m typing, and it could go on all day. Great opportunity for Mom/Son time while Daughter is at camp, and it’s slipping by.
The discussion sometimes bothers me. There’s much discussion about what we need to balance, or how to lay out the form. How often should I review it? Will it crash and need major work to resurrect without daily review? Do I have to stick to it strictly?
What I don’t see is people getting out and actually doing things. They may be getting out and doing things and not writing about it, or they may be too caught up with the planning.
We need to be aware of balance and imbalance. We need to be aware of what areas are out of balance, either too much or too little. A quick diary is good for that. A form can make that diary faster and more complete.
The important thing, though, is what you do with the new awareness.
Some people go out and plan something to fill the gap. “I will take my son to the zoo.” Well, if your son is anything like mine, saying, “Hey, Son, I’m going to spend time with you. We’re going to the zoo,” won’t wash.
I prefer serendipity.
Today, I have to buy groceries. We also need to get him swim goggles and sunglasses, the cottage needs a new shower head, and I need more coloured paper, and daughter desperately needs more shorts (she grew over the winter). Son has to come with me. So, this morning while he was having his breakfast, we discussed the week’s menu. It’s now filled with things he likes. We’re lucky — his sister likes everything on it as well. Later today, we’ll go out shopping, to buy food he likes and can help cook. I’ll let him decide when the other errands get done, and if we can be around DQ at snack time. He gets to make decisions. He’s also learning about meal planning, list making, and how to organize a week, all without squeezing in half a day at a hot, smelly zoo.
Last month, husband was in a grumpy mood. We have a rule for those moods: Accomplish something! Pick something off the list, pretty much anything, and do it. Usually, it’s something that’s been bothering you for a while so getting it off the list will be a load off your back, but not something that makes you feel frustrated just thinking about. Something that gets you moving, and that you will take pride in.
He chose baseboards.
He asked the kids if they wanted to go with him. It became a trip to the store with Daughter, complete with chocolate bar, which, incidentally, resulted in baseboard arriving at the house.
A while later, he needed help holding the tape measure. Son had finished his video game time, and was grumpy, so he was dragged in for a few minutes. Son ended up making a sketch of the needed pieces, and being quite proud of himself. He likes math.
Another trip to the store resulted in a bike ride.
Next month when both kids are at camp for a week, we’ll have a romantic lunch and get colour samples.
So, he achieved balance. Exercise, time with each kid (educational even!), time with me, pride in our home and his handyman skills, and something off the list.
I can tell you, though, that the grumpiness left way before then. The minute he decided to do the drywall, and started taking action. All the rest came from being open, and taking advantage of the opportunities as they came up.
Even if all the rest hadn’t happened, at the end of the day he had painted baseboard. Much better than, “I played Zelda all day, and re-organized my lists, while trying to decide what to do.”