Balance: do what works

June 28, 2012 at 8:55 am (family, goals, links, teaching)

Finding the Balance

Today, I’m participating in a blog hop with Happy Homemaker Me and Jordy Liz! We’re writing about how we find a balance between responsibilities and joys in life.

Back in September, I wrote this post with my advice about surviving the first year of teaching. Some of it still applies: I laid my clothes out every single day this school year, I made a lunch on all but a handful of days, and I was able to put the work down and go home as soon as the bell rang.

But aside from that… a lot has changed! We’re not joining the Air Force anymore (a decision that ultimately was about balance and what worked for us), I’m almost 9 months pregnant with our first child, and instead of moving this summer we’re settling in for another year in Los Angeles and I’ll be going back to work in the fall for another year of teaching.

Looking back, I have no idea how I made it through this year. How on earth did we eat homemade dinner almost every night? How on earth did I manage to write every single IEP on time? How did I sew a quilt and cross stitch a stocking? Only by the grace of God, that is for sure. And in this year, I’ve figured out what works for me, and for us. So here’s some updated tips on how to make it all work together…

1. As far as food and cooking: weekly/monthly menus just do not work for me. Particularly when pregnant. I would plan a meal the night before, and by the next day that meal no longer sounded appealing AT ALL. Even when I’m not pregnant, if I’m not excited about the meal, I’m grumpy about cooking and put off starting dinner in hopes we’ll just go out to eat. Not a good habit… So instead, I’ve taken to keeping basics on hand that are easy to defrost and I decide what sounds good at 4 PM every day, in time to have dinner ready when my husband gets home at 5:15. Two things make this possible: I am diligent about repackaging bulk meat (I put it in ziploc bags, which is not the most green solution but it means they can be quickly thawed in a sink full of water) and keeping a detailed grocery list. Any time we start to run low on any ingredient, it goes on the grocery list which is kept on the fridge. If I wait to make a list until right before going to the store, I will always forget at least one or two items.

2. You need a weekend: Friday nights, Saturday mornings, and Sunday mornings and nights are for relaxing with my husband. Always! Work/errands/cleaning wait for Saturday/Sunday afternoons, and Saturday night if I need even more time. As I move forward to being a working mom and not just a working wife, this is the strategy I’m most committed to, since I don’t want to miss any more of my daughter’s first year than I have to. For me, having balance in life is putting God first, then your family, then you, then work/cleaning/errands/the rest of life. My job is important, and I do have responsibilities to my students, but my family is forever. Jobs are temporary.

3. Find your routine: Sorry, this tip is less specific than the other two, but it’s coming from my heart and what I’ve learned this year. Don’t stick to something that’s not working for you, just because everyone else meal plans or everyone else stays after school to get work done. I don’t meal plan, I don’t have a cleaning schedule, and I take any extra work home, because that’s what works for me and my family. When you’ve got your routine nailed down, you’ll know – and if it’s not working yet, switch it up. It’s worth a little chaos to figure out what works for you.

That’s what works for me, condensed into three tips. What works for you? Join the blog hop and share!

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