Balance — mental, physical, spiritual, emotional, romantic, work/life, etc. — is a feat for any human being with a modicum of self-awareness or responsibility. But I contend that for parents, whose lives are necessarily revolved around the care of another human, it's even harder. Always eager to see how other people manage, I asked other moms to share how they center themselves and, well, these dames have given me something to think about.
Everyone's balance is going to look different, of course. For example, a lot of the women I talked to found their balance in introverted, calming activities, and I think that's lovely. I, however, am an almost aggressively social person and, as a work-from-home mom, need to balance myself by getting out. Going out with friends, taking a Saturday morning to walk around a farmer's market — I recharge around other people. That's not to say I don't get a lot out of a run in the woods or a yoga class, but I find it far more restorative to be engaged with others.
I think balance is all about reminding yourself of who you are, and I find I'm more recollective when I've got a nice gin cocktail in my hand and a conversation on my lips, ya know? So with that in mind, here's how some of the other ladies rediscovered their center:
"I took up a meditation practice about a year ago, so daily meditation is my go-to maintenance to balance my center. I can’t even remember the last time I exploded or overreacted to something the kids did or said. For super high intensity days/weeks I make sure we spend more time barefoot outside. Recognizing that this isn’t a luxury for me and an actual need was key."
"Overall, I feel most centered when I work out several times a week. It is like I get to sweat out my frustrations and worries. I still struggle with maintaining my center and composure when my kids are acting out, but I find that walking away for a minute or two helps me keep it check."
"Several ways! If travel is an option, taking a drive and then hike into the mountains works. If I'm traveling far and can get to an ocean, looking out into it, day or night, is 100 percent my favorite way to get centered. But on the day-to-day, yoga really helps. Sometimes I can get my kiddo involved and that helps, too. Otherwise, stepping out on the balcony for a cannabis break is generally helpful. Oh, and I definitely feel way more centered on days I wake up early (before everyone else) and do at least 5-10 minutes of meditation."
"I have to make something every day. I'm a crafty person and a results-based person —that's where I find meaning and personal satisfaction. I have my little supply closet and I'll usually putter something together after browsing Pinterest or something. It's relaxing, the end product makes me happy, and it's something I do just for me; something I've been doing for as long as I can remember. It's an activity that pre-dates my motherhood and adult responsibilities."
"I'm not completely sure I've ever figured out 'the one thing' that centers me. Leaving a toxic work environment a few years back and setting off on a completely different trajectory has kind of flipped my world upside down. Alongside that raising three little kids and two stepsons, managing my younger two with special needs, making sure I'm ahead of all the logistical challenges that comes with having a big family... well, that leaves very little time left for me.
One thing I have realized is that I am someone who needs time alone to decompress. But I also need that time to feel like I'm using my mind. My husband has probably learned faster than I have that this is important to my wellbeing. So when an opportunity comes up for me to travel to a conference or go on a photographic retreat or maybe just some time to go off by myself to read a book I've been desperately trying to get through, he does as much as he can to give me that space. It re-energizes me and I feel more capable of tackling the day-to-day."
"I need reading time every day. Need. It's something that at once is mindless and relaxing but also exercises my brain and I need both. I make a mug of tea and I grab my Kindle and I read until the tea is gone. It's a big mug and I sip slowly."
"I'm a Pieces: I need to be close to the water, so I'm a 'relax in the bath' kind of girl."
"I recenter myself by taking a great yoga class (I'm also an instructor and teach full-time), going to the gym and taking really hard exercise classes where I feel like I'm going to pass out and die. When I can, taking a kid-free vacay. This summer I went to Spain for 10 days and I don’t think I have ever felt more refreshed, relaxed, and centered since having kids."
"Quiet, alone time is essential each day. Also, exercising and massages."
"I didn't grow up very religious, but my Jewish identity has always been a really important part of who I am. Shortly after we got married, my husband and I committed to doing Shabbat dinner every Friday night — we stay in, light our candles, eat, and pray. We often have friends over to join us, so it's either a quiet, intimate, grounding evening with our family or it's a cozy night in with family and friends. I always feel like no matter what's going on, on Shabbat, I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be and doing what I'm supposed to be doing. It gives me strength and motivation for the rest of the week because I always know I can get through the garbage because sundown on Friday I'll be lighting my Shabbat candles."
"My gym membership is worth every penny (which is good because it's not cheap). The exercise itself does me good, but my gym also has childcare and an awesome playroom for the kids. So we all go a couple times a week, they have a blast, I feel good, and we all come out feeling refreshed. Oh, and we get McDonald's for dinner on gym nights, because balance."
"Get in my car and blare death metal. Sometimes mama's gotta headbang and scream like a banshee."
"Long walks outside, in any weather. I talk to the road and basically debrief and process what’s going on in my life."
"I've been religiously keeping a journal since my kids were born. It started off as a 'baby journal' but it became clear pretty quickly that it was less about how the baby was doing than what I was thinking and feeling and how I was adjusting to my new role and, honestly, life. Being able to get out all my feelings in this way, and then sometimes to go back and read about all the struggles I had that I never thought I would overcome but, here I am, reading about them in the past tense, is really therapeutic and balancing."
"Bahahaha! That's all I have to say about that."