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Balance and Flexibility

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Take a moment

“…And they’re off!” The kids are back in school. It’s an exciting and demanding time in a family’s life as we lay the groundwork and set goals for the next nine months. Although the To Do List is long at this time of year, don’t forget to add two more important things: balance and flexibility. Balance and flexibility are the crucial ingredients that make everything else possible. Without them, we can’t sustain the work we need to do to accomplish our goals.

In addition to making sure you do everything you can to help your child get off to a successful start at school, take a moment to think of a few things that will give members of your household a consistent opportunity to recalibrate and recharge. It could be a yoga class for mom, reading a favorite newspaper comic every morning before school with a particular child, milkshakes after school on Fridays as a reward for a week of hard work, mandatory “unplugging” from technology, or a commitment to family dinners. Maybe everyone in the family is an American Idol fanatic and responsibilities are temporarily shelved so that the family can laugh and relax together for an hour a week. Whatever your “balance and flexibility pauses” are, factor them in. Mark them down on your agenda if it helps, but don’t toss them out as low priority.

There is another important thing to remember regarding balance. Once you have actually achieved it, relish in that moment and also accept the fact that it will not last long. This is where flexibility comes into play. Like it or not, balance needs tending. It is inevitable that something will come up that will throw even the best laid plans and most organized of parents out of whack. A pre-teen will have a social issue at school. You will encounter a setback at work. Your 3rd grader will come down with the flu. (Most likely, all will happen on the same day.)

Whatever the issues are, remember that no one has necessarily done anything wrong when these things happen. Deal with each as best and as completely as you can and, when it has passed, go back to the routine that seemed to be working reasonably well before… or readjust it, if necessary. Keeping balance in our lives is a lot about not feeling that there is only one way to do things. Stay flexible. Maybe some of the challenges thrown your way will result in something positive. I will never forget what I felt staying home with a sick child once during a particularly busy period at work. Was it inconvenient? Yes. Was I worried about my job? Yes. Did the experience force me to recalibrate about what was important and did it matter that I was there that day? Yes, absolutely.

Take courage in the fact that there is no one way to do anything. Set the best course you can and include things you know will bring you and your family’s life balance, but allow that your course will need constant retuning, revisiting and restarting… and that that’s perfectly all right. 

[AUTHOR: Hilary Doubleday]

October 9, 2012

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