Tag Archives: balance

Are We Too Busy?

front face of a watch that shows its inner worksWhen the older boys were just toddlers we were friends with a family that had three pre-teen children. The one message we heard from them constantly revolved around how busy they were keeping up with the kids’ schedules.

They quickly became the anti-example for our family. Hubby and I looked at each other and nodded sagely that we’d NEVER allow life to get so busy that it was constantly stressful. What they were doing, running from one activity to the next, was just crazy.

Now we have pre-teen children. And now we are awfully busy with sports and Scouting and church and 4H and volunteering, all on top of school requirements. Oh, and piano. They’re all learning to play the piano.

So are we too busy? We strive for balance. Keeping boys occupied tends to keep them out of trouble, but we don’t want to be overwhelming. Right now the younger boys have evening commitments once or twice a week, while the older boys have two or three evening commitments weekly. It is working out that the adults have something to do 4 nights a week to make it to all the boy stuff, and frequently activities overlap so we’re having to do some interesting juggling to make it all work.

Because they’re homeschooled, the boys usually have time every afternoon to play. In addition they usually take a healthy recess at lunch time and go outside to jump around and blow off some energy. Piano is done during the schoolday. 4H is only once a month.

This is the first year that we’ve encouraged the boys to branch out and choose the sport or activity they want. Up until now, keeping up with different choices was more than Hubby and I could mentally manage. Now, it doesn’t seem too hard. Tiring. Occasionally confusing. But not too hard.

Have we turned into the anti-example for someone else? It’s interesting how much I want to support the boys in their pursuits. Going to a practice or a game when I could be at home getting my own todo list done doesn’t seem nearly as much of an imposition as it did when our friends were describing it. I know that while the days seem long, the years are going to be short. We only get to do this once.

Keeping life balanced is a huge value around here, and I hope that we look back someday and think, “Yea, that worked out well.”

by AmyL

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Photo graciously provided by jurvetson, through a Creative Commons license, some rights reserved

Feng Shui

3 stones on wooden surface balanced in pileMy husband thinks I am weird. This is nothing new. He made fun of me when we started dating when I asked him for his birth date – the time, day and location. He asked me what I needed it for and I told him that I was going to run his chart. “My what?” he exclaimed. After my mom ran his “chart” and compared our compatibility, he became a little less critical of my interest in astrology.

When I told him I was having a consultant come to our house to help me Feng Shui my office all he did was say, “Okay.” For the past few days I have been reorganizing my photos, moving books, cleaning out my book shelf, and buying new items. I think I am driving him crazy. He doesn’t really believe in it, but he is being a good sport. He was willing to listen to what the consultant told me and to hear what I was doing to my office.

When the Feng Shui consultant, Lori, was talking with me about my goals and the current setup of my office she told me that she wasn’t surprised that I have been struggling between career and family for years; yes years. It seems that my office was heavy on photos of my husband and my kids. As such, it made it difficult for me to focus on work related tasks with family surrounding me.

One of my goals is to make my classes more fun for my students. Lori told me to add some fun sayings or trinkets to my office in my Creativity corner. I hung a few of my daughters’ art work pieces, but I’m still searching for some fun teacher/student sayings or trinkets. So far the changes to my office space feel good and applicable to my long-term goals.

The first day after I reorganized I had one of my most productive days in months. It was amazing. My second day was good too. I’ve started to look at applying Feng Shui to the rest of my house. Based on my basic understanding and the information from Lori, our house is pretty good from a Feng Shui perspective, but could use some improvements. The question is how far to take the concepts without driving my husband (or myself) crazy.

by Kelly Damron

Photo graciously provided by [>>Miguel>>], through a Creative Commons license, some rights reserved

Family Friendly Feng Shui

two frames hung on a wallI had One of Those Weeks, where my kids didn’t listen and they bickered and hated each other and wanted something nicer that what I had made for supper. Finally I lined them up and YELLED at them. They were impressed, since I don’t often yell. They (and half the neighbourhood) tiptoed around after that, I can tell you.

At the library the following day, I picked up a book on Feng Shui, which promised to bring harmony and bliss into the home with cunning placement of candles and things of specific colours, and moving the furniture so that the sofa doesn’t pour energy down the stairs. Or something. I borrowed the book, of course! There was something about the cover image… so uncluttered, so tidy! And living ‘temporarily’ in a rented flat, I needed some kind of inspiration. If it brought bliss and harmony to my children, that would be a bonus.

One Feng Shui change has certainly made a difference here, and here it is:

Look at your photos and paintings. Are they framed? Are they happy images? Have you been meaning to print out family portraits? I have had a great time this week, looking through our photos with Family Bliss in mind, and printing happy, loving pictures of us as a family. My two competitive older boys, hugging. My husband, cooking for us. My youngest son, with the Big Fish he caught! Me, surrounded by friends at my sister’s wedding! Little nieces and nephews, favourite places. Dozens of really great photos.

Frame these. There are pretty frames available everywhere. Feng Shui recommends natural frames like wood and metal, which are nicer than plastic anyway, aren’t they? You can buy a whole bunch of inexpensive frames, and add a few fancy ones. Display the gorgeous framed photos everywhere, and see what happens! My two older boys have been hugging, just like in their photo. My youngest has placed his Big Fish picture on his bedside table. Things have been pretty peaceful and happy around here. Amazing!

Of course, there is much more to Feng Shui than that. Directions, Elements, Colours and whatnot. You can borrow or buy books on Feng Shui by the dozen. I’d recommend one without TOO much information. You just want the basics, to begin with. Or, you can simply spend the next few evenings decluttering your house, to make room for some new family photos!

by Nan Sheppard

Photo graciously provided by Robert in Toronto, through a Creative Commons license, some rights reserved

Do Not Play Favorites

I have always believed very strongly that a parent should do everything they can to avoid falling into the trap of favoritism. When a parent adores one child over another, either openly or subtly, the child who feels that he or she is less loved never shakes that feeling. It can cloud their entire life. I’ve seen this in those close to me, friends and relatives, and the results always seem to be same. This feeling of “Why did Mom or Dad love my brother or sister more?” can undermine their very sense of self.

A friend of mine just lost his father after a lengthy battle with cancer. HIs father, it turns out, named my friend as executor of the estate, but the kicker is that he has left everything to his other two children: my friend’s brother and sister. I am beside myself with the what I consider to be a huge slap in the face.

When asked why, my friend simply says that his father always loved the brother and sister more.

Knowing his father only in passing, I have a feeling that what’s more to the point is that while my friend is an entirely self sufficient adult, capable of starting and growing his own home business and raising a wonderful family, his siblings definitely are not. They needed taking care of well into adulthood. Whether it was because of because their father did everything for them and they never learned themselves, or because they are just inherently slackers or because they used their father’s weakness to their advantage, they always managed to garner more attention and get more “stuff” in the process. My friend, never asking for anything, never got much of anything: attention or otherwise.

I wish that my friend’s father were still alive. I’d tell him the damage he did with this less than stellar parenting. I would make him see that of his three children, it was my friend (and his amazing wife) who was there throughout the cancer, throughout the doctor’s appointments, the search for a skilled nursing home, everything. My friend was always willing to drop his life to take care of his father. You couldn’t say the same for the brother or the sister.

I would show his father how wonderful a son he has in my friend. I know it. I just wish that his father were the type of parent who could see that the point of being a parent is to one day no longer be needed by your children. It is to train them well enough that they can stand on their own, without assistance. This man never told my friend that he is proud of the person his son had become. Now, it’s too late.

by Rocket Science Mom

Work/Life Balance

calendar pages arranged in a circleWhile having lunch with a friend we were discussing work/life balance. She mentioned that as she gets older her work/life balance gets worse. She was terribly frustrated so I shared with her an idea my coach gave me. She thought it was such a great idea she told me I should blog about it so that other people could benefit from the idea too. So here it goes…

Create a list of everything you have going on. I realize this list could get a little long. Be sure to include those activities you do at least once a month. If you only do an activity on occasion, leave it off the list. Then determine where those activities fit by creating a calendar of sorts. Be sure to list the activities on the corresponding day of the week as well as the length of time they take.

I generally prefer to use pencil and paper for these types of activities rather than Excel. I printed a blank calendar out of Outlook and started filling in the calendar. From there I was able to create a generic template in Excel with the days of the week as my row headings and Weeks 1-4 as my column headings.

On Mondays and Fridays I am a SAHM so the only activities on my list are 1) exercise, 2) read or check email for 1 hour max, and 3) spend the day with Copy Cat and Pack Rat. Sundays are family days only so these fields say “family time.” The three days of the week CC and PR are at preschool are full of the other items I want to accomplish for my teaching and my consulting business. For example, Tuesdays are the same each week (with a few exceptions). On my list for Tuesday: exercise, check email, twitter, write blog post, and available client time. On Tues-Thur I’ve actually estimated the hours available for productive work – meaning activities where I can generate revenue. This has helped me move from the mindset that I had too much “busy” work to do to a place were I know how much availability I have for client projects. Moving from “I’m too busy” to “I have xx hours available for client projects” will help me manifest what I want, i.e., more client projects.

If you are struggling with finding a good work/life balance try creating something similar to this activity list. It was incredibly helpful for me.

by Kelly Damron

Photo graciously provided by tanakawho, through a Creative Commons license, some rights reserved