Today is the vernal equinox in the Southern hemisphere (and the autumnal equinox in the Northern hemisphere). It’s just one of two days in the entire year (around March 20th and September 23rd) when day and night are of equal duration.
In case you’re wondering, the word ‘equinox’ is derived from the Latin word ‘aequinoctium’: aequi = equal + nox = night. This day of balance makes me think of how we all strive for balance in our busy lives.
Here’s something that I wrote for The Motherish in July about my quest for a work/life balance:
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Today is my husband’s birthday. For the first time in our 10-year marriage I haven’t baked him a cake. I have the ingredients sitting patiently in the pantry. What I don’t have is the time.
You see, I’ve just tiptoed back into the workforce after a five-year hiatus. A big break to have little kids.
Speaking of kids, mine have just returned to school after two weeks of school holidays. And only now am I beginning to appreciate the juggling act working parents – and kids of working parents – perform each and every day.
Our easy mornings have now morphed into school morning mayhem. The alarm goes off at the crack of dawn and pandemonium ensues – no matter how much I’ve planned ahead. While I make brekkie, morning tea and packed lunches (times four), the husband helps sort out home readers, library bags and permission slips. A frantic search ensues for my son’s sports shoes. My daughter can never seem to find two matching lacky bands. I try to get everything and everyone out of the house on time without losing my sh!t… Sounds familiar?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m enjoying being back at work. After such a long time at home, it’s satisfying to do something other than ‘mothering’. I expected it to be stressful. I expected it to be a steep learning curve. I expected to feel a bit unsure of my abilities.
What I didn’t expect was to well up with emotion every evening when my kids rush into my arms once I return from work. What I didn’t expect was to be so time-poor, I forget to breathe. What I didn’t expect was this logistical nightmare.
How do I cram the million other bits and pieces into 24 hours? How do I fit in the kids’ after-school activities? How do I oversee their homework and piano practice while trying to edit an article and cook dinner? What happens if one of the kids falls ill? How can I find an extra hour to volunteer for literacy at school? Who’s going to pick up the slack of mundane household chores?
Through it all runs an invisible but unmistakable urgency to rush, rush, rush.
The kids have noticed the difference. Our otherwise tidy home now looks like a bomb’s gone off inside. I’m trying to turn a blind eye to the carpet of crumbs below our dining table and the overflowing laundry hamper. Our home-cooked meals have been elbowed out in favour of anything that can be made under 20 minutes’ flat. My very own MasterChef Mystery Box Challenge.
And I seem to be having these ‘out-of-body’ experiences: even while I’m physically at home, I’m mentally ticking off all the tasks I need to tackle tomorrow at work; and while I’m at work, I’m worrying about the kids coping with my absence.
I know it’s early days. A period of adjustment for the kids – and for me. They’ll have to get more self-reliant and I’ll have to let go a bit. So my goals are simple: organised chaos at home; a work-life balance at the office.
And I’ll try to remember what my boss told me and just breathe…
So tell me, what do you do to find balance in your busy life? Any tips for coping with the school rush and/or work deadlines? Do you think we make our lives more stressful with our ‘need’ to be busy constantly?