I am a working mother with an active 1 year old who I just adore. I am extremely busy almost every day of the week, with child care, work, a relationship and caring for my aging mother; there is rarely a free moment for me. I pride myself in being good in all the roles I play and people depend on me; but the truth is I’m tired. Help! How does the “Everywoman” (mother, wife, sister, caretaker, daughter, manager and stronger friend) find balance?
Let me start by saying the answer to this question can be about more than finding balance, it can literally add years to your life. The truth is that African American women spend a large amount of their lives feeling “stressed.” The consequences of this long term stress can include having problems sleeping, being forgetful, poor sex drive and dare I say it, hair loss. I can go on and on about the effects of stress but I hope at least one of these consequences should motivate you to consider change.
Finding balance as the “Everywoman”
First, is something that requires a real look at what expectations you allow others to place on you. Once you define them; believe it or not, you need to ignore them. Sounds simple right? That’s because it is that simple. The world tries to force us into these “characters” with messages that make us believe we are not “good enough unless we can be everything to everybody.” But I am going to tell you a secret you will never live up to that message. Learn to listen to the real voice that matters; yours. As you get better with ignoring the wrong message, you will learn to pay attention to right opinions from those you know cherish and respect your balance.
Entrust others with tasks or simply say “no.” You do not have to do everything yourself just because you don’t trust others to get it done. If you have a tendency to be a “control freak” or feel you have to say yes or it won’t get done, do me a favor and let that go. You have to learn to trust others to help or even complete some of your self- imposed duties or tasks. Besides, you can use some of that time for yourself.
Define your time according to what you love. It’s time to make some real decisions about your happiness being a priority. If you are no longer interested in being the CEO of the next big company because you now have this adorable 1 year old you can’t wait to get home to, that’s not the end of the world, learn to adjust and devote your time into what matters to you now.
Finally, the fun side of finding balance. Make time for you. It’s really unbelievable how many Black women come into my office and tell me they don’t have time for themselves or to even unwind. It’s inevitable that if you don’t make time, you will physically shut down. Start small; mediating or praying, even if it is just for those 5 or 10 minutes you spend alone in the car will help. If you don’t already eat well, introduce a better diet to help balance the effects of the stress on your body. And finally exercise; movement is a free medicine to improve your outlook on life and the good thing is you can do it as a family or alone.
Remember, these tips may seem tough in the beginning but when your days seem more balanced and just plan happy, you will thank me.