Last week, I posted an IG story giving my followers an opportunity to ask me virtually ANYTHING! I got some pretty great questions, and I am SO very appreciative of everyone who allowed me an opportunity to share a little bit of my how and why with them.
One of the questions posed was "How do you find a balance between Mommy life, work life, and artist life?" It requires a little bit more of a response than some of the others, so I briefly responded with this:
"[I] prioritize, and say yes to only the things that are in alignment with my purpose and vision! I guard my time with my LIFE!"
The main thing to know is that I LAUGH at the word "balance" because it's something I'm not sure anyone ever figures out completely, but it's also something I work to attain on a daily basis because, I don't know about you, but I've experienced stress and burnout from doing too much before.
Below are the ways that I am learning to have a healthy work-life balance and still be satisfied with my daily progress.
I allow my spouse to help.
I put this one first because for a long time, I had a hard time asking anyone, including my husband, for help. Yes, I realize we were not created to go through life without relationships and the support of others, but my pride had been a major issue. That, and I always felt like if I don't do it, it won't get done [right]! Better yet, if I had to ask you, then maybe you didn't want to help me in the first place. Trust me when I say that kind of thinking can be a bit damaging, so ask for help when you need it!
My husband has always been very supportive of my career goals as well as my dream of someday operating as a full-time artist, so once we had our son it was kind of easy getting him on board with taking over some of the parenting duties. Ladies, trust your husband as the father of your child(ren) and LET HIM TAKE OVER (sometimes!) I know far too many mamas who assume so much responsibility, naturally, but also burn themselves out because they won't delegate or ask their partners for help. I learned early on that I had a willing partner, so I do not take it for granted.
Once our son turned one, we began operating on a schedule where two days out of the week my husband would pick him up from daycare to allow me to slow down from rushing to leave work or to devote myself to some after school time with my students, come home to work on art, go to the gym, or simply woo-sah while they played at the park or visited Granny. This can even work on the weekends! Pick a day, and get you some hours of solitude in! Not married? Get a family member or close friend on board, but by all means don't try to do this thing called life alone.
"Two people are better than one, for they can help each other succeed."- Ecclesiastes 4:9 NLT
I identify my priorities, and make sure I remind myself often that they ARE my PRIORITIES.
I had to take some time to really think about the things I wished to prioritize in my life, be it my relationship with God, family responsibilities, personal ambitions, career goals, or overall health. Once those were established, I was able to create daily routines that align with these priorities. There are many things tempting me to drop everything and run to it, but everything doesn't deserve my immediate attention. Period. There are people who attempt to make their priorities my priorities, chores that stare me in the face as my son begs "Mommy, come plaaay!", and even self-made tasks that I feel NEED to happen like tuh-DAY! I stopped all of that! You've heard me say it before: God, Family, Creativity are my top three priorities (I group close friends in with family, but you get the gist). These are the things that help me grow and feed into my purpose. Everything else has to come second and therefore be worked in. Really it's all about what I feel God has called me to do, and what I consider my ministries to be, and well, marriage/family are my first ones. As for my art business, that is what I intend to build my legacy and generational wealth on, which all goes back to one thing: FAMILY.
"Make time for the people and things that matter most."
I say "No" to anything that doesn't align with my priorities and purpose.
This one used to be tough for me as it requires a lot of tact, skill, and effort. Once I was able to determine what actually matters in the grand scheme of things and what doesn't, this became a lot easier to do. If it interfered with my time alone/time with God, time with my family, from feeding my creative desires/building my art business, or from maintaining a mentally and physically healthy lifestyle, I learned that "No" was an option, and an acceptable response. I also learned not to mind if people didn't understand. I've experienced extreme burnout from saying "Yes" to virtually any opportunity that came my way, but I soon realized that wasn't getting me anywhere except in the doctor's office. You can't pour from an empty cup! And the ultimate goal should be to spend more time doing quality things with quality people, instead of simply doing more things and suffering the results.
I do little chunks at a time.
The whole idea of doing small chunks of a task at a time used to bother me so much! I hated the idea of starting something and not being able to finish it in one sitting, but that essentially led to procrastination and putting the task off completely. While some things do require my immediate attention, many do not, and I've learned to differentiate between the two.
That pile of dirty laundry that's staring me down? I'll throw a load in the washer and dryer today, fold and put it away tomorrow. Or even this weekend. It'll be there. That large blank canvas that's dying for my attention? I'll throw a layer on in the five minutes that my child is preoccupied with his toys before he comes to look for me, and throw another layer on once I get him down to bed before I turn in myself. In short, I can stand to get rid of that hustle mentality where I'm always on go. It really doesn't have to be complicated, and most things really can be stretched out over the course of a few days.
If you think this will throw you off, set yourself some S.M.A.R.T. Goals by deciding how much of a task you will complete each day and when you want to be done with the task completely.
I implemented a self-care strategy that includes: Getting. Some. Rest!
What do YOU need? I mean, what do you really need to feel like you're thriving on a daily basis? Only you can really answer this, but for me, I NEED the occasional alone time after work, slow mornings with yoga, green tea, or just peace & quiet, and time to just exist as Samantha--not wife, not mommy, not teacher, artist, daughter, sister, friend, nothing! I deal with over 100 different personalities and teenagers EVERY. DAY. So when I get the option of going out to be around more people or staying in to enjoy some down time, I choose the latter.
And listen to me. I know it's tempting to jump on the bandwagon of missing out on hours of sleep for the sake of working crazy hours each day, but for what? To maybe live to say I was stressed majority of my life before ever reaching the "top", even though the "top" has its own stressors? To reach society's status quo? When I say I am no good for ANYBODY if I don't have at least seven hours of sleep per night, I am NO GOOD! I know my body. I need 7-9 to feel great and ready to tackle the next day. Because I realize the importance of giving both my brain and body a rest, it allows me to push through the to-do lists of the next day without crashing or slowing down, thus not accomplishing much of anything. DO NOT SACRIFICE YOUR WELL-BEING FOR THE SAKE OF ACCOMPLISHING YOUR GOALS. I do my best to keep my eye on my future, but in case I don't even make it to see that day, I do want to at least be able to say I enjoyed my life.
"Let's live in the present. Life is about more than GETTING more."
I give myself GRACE.
I saved the best for last. I think about what my standard is, and often ask myself WHY I've made that the standard to begin with. Is there a person I follow on social media who always seems to have it together? Is there a relative I've always looked up to and therefore began to model after? Let me get preachy for two seconds: Jesus is literally the ONLY standard. Seriously. There really is no point in looking at other faulty humans or man-made images when those people and things are just as flawed as I am!
In the words of mental health professional and one of my dearest friends, Kimberly Okonya of Life Begins Here Therapeutic & Counseling Services, LLC, "Control what you can control." I focus on finishing what I can finish, focusing on what I have been given the grace to do, and try not to stress about anything. If I miss a mark, oh well! And this one really took some training in kicking perfectionism to the curb! But once I realized it was the perfectionism that was stifling me and causing illness on my mental and physical health, I had to let it go. It just absolutely is what it is.
At the end of the day, I think it's worth spending a little bit of time actually setting aside some time with God and to myself to reflect on my life's purpose and the calling God has on my life so that I can create an effective plan on living it out. Realizing I have a unique purpose has allowed me to refrain from comparing myself to anyone else as we are all unique in our capabilities and reason for being here. So, no, I don't think it requires me to overwork myself just to be happy, secure, or successful. I AM successful. I have joy in my heart, a family to love on, an amazing support system of family, friends, and clients, and realistically a lot more than some because of God's favor. I am grateful. And by practicing gratitude, it's a lot easier to slow down and enjoy a slower, more balanced pace of life.
Oh, yeah...last little point...I LIVE by the planner! Writing things down not only helps me to remember things but it also helps me to prioritize and check off the things I've accomplished. I'm working on creating a yearly planner for 2021, so I thought I might test a few pages out by sharing a few freebies over the next few months (YAY!) Subscribe below to get the first one.
In what ways have you learned to find a healthy work life balance? Share some of your ideas below!
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