Balance Hacks for the Control-Freak Perfectionist
By Angela Tseng on September 21, 2009
BlogHer Original Post
Balance can be extremely difficult to achieve especially if you are a control-freak perfectionist. Unless of course, you choose balance itself to master. Over the years, I have strived to "have it all", from work, to personal life, and finally family. Once the kids came however, everything was thrown out the window. Now that my oldest child is nearly nine years old, I have finally found a sense of balance in most areas of my life, although it sometimes comes crashing down like a house of cards. Here are some of my tips to help achieve balance.
The Calendar. For an obsessively organized person, a family calendar is a must. You can use a paper calendar or an electronic one. I personally use Microsoft Outlook because it syncs to my iPhone. Each activity is color-coded by person or type of activity. My husband is blue, my son is green, my daughter is purple, I am yellow, family events are red and home service events are orange. This works great for me, but my family still scratches their heads over the colors (I bet my husband is saying as he reads this - oh, is THAT what orange means). Every week, I print out the calendar and put it up on the fridge so that everyone knows what is going on. It is quite colorful! I also use Google Calendar sync so I can access the calendar online (not in its color-coded glory, but I have other color-coded Google calendars that I use for work and blogging). But beyond the tool, the calendar is essential to see when you've overbooked yourself. Obviously, you can't do it all, and it is easily apparent when you look at the calendar.
Delegation. For the perfectionist, delegation can be extremely difficult at first. Obviously no one can do it better than you! But if you want to keep your sanity, it just doesn't make sense. There aren't enough hours in a day to get everything done yourself. In 2006, I was interviewed for the book, Be Happy Without Being Perfect: How to Worry Less and Enjoy Life More by Alice Domar and Alice Lesch Kelly. Here was my response to the question, "In what area of your life (housework, career, your body, parenting, marriage/dating) does your perfectionism cause the most trouble? Why?"
Definitely parenting. I have a hard time letting go and letting my husband do things his own way. When I get it in my head that things need to be done a certain way, I become blind to the fact that there may be more than one way to do things, or that doing it a different way is not going to cause irreparable damage to my kids. Especially this year, my husband is staying home with the kids while I work outside of the home. He is spending more time with the kids than I am and I have to let him do things his way (making lunches, getting them dressed, naptime, etc.). I still ask for a detailed list of what happens during the day and end up criticizing him for things that I would have done differently. I wish I could be less controlling in this area.
I think I've come a long way in three years (my husband may beg to differ). I no longer ask about every detail of their days and I only cringe a little when mishaps happen like being late for an appointment. Coupled with management experience at work, I've finally learned that delegation can actually work. Marriage is a partnership, and works best when responsibilities are equally shared.
Lastly and most cliché, is to make time for yourself. It may seem totally obvious, but it can be the most difficult to follow through on. I schedule time on my busy family calendar for therapeutic massage and girls' nights out. It is also a priority to spend time with my husband away from the kids, whether it be a lunch on a school day or an overnight getaway for our anniversary. Carefully scheduling family time, couple time, as well as "me" time are essential in achieving that perfect state of balance.
Contributing editor Angela blogs about juggling life with her family over at mommy bytes.
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