Balance? What Balance?

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In my home, we are going through a bit of a “phase.” Of absolute chaos.

Abby is hitting the Terrible 3s before ever completing the Terrible 2s. She thinks she is ready to drop her nap, but is unbearable by the end of the week. And, she now repeatedly comes out of her room over a span of two hours after bedtime as well.

Austin is now walking running and is into everything -- generally on the opposite side of the house from whatever his sister is destroying, requiring me to grow some Go-Go-Gadget Arms. (He even managed to get the laptop from the middle of the table onto the floor, to my horror.)

My husband is working at a new firm that his group started at the beginning of the year, which means hours and travel, travel and hours.

And it’s household repair season. Don’t even get me started on our yard and the weeds taller than our fence.

And here I am. Oh yeah, me. What am I doing? I’m desperately trying to hold it all together through a series of Post-It notes and half-assed attempts at cleaning, correspondence and sanity.

For those still waiting on thank you notes from Austin’s first birthday… I’m sorry?

I promised myself that after Austin was born, I would carve out a couple of things that are just mine -- something I attempted when we had Abby, but failed at miserably. I’d sign up, get involved, then slowly fade out of projects.

What I really need to keep sane is to run. A big race. Something that requires training but is an attainable goal.

FeetI signed up for the Chicago Marathon with ample time to do some pre-training throughout the winter. That was pretty light, but now it’s the real deal. I’m 1/4 of the way into marathon training.

And yet, I have not run once this week. Again. Inching my way closer to showing up at a starting line unprepared, and making my way through this summer feeling like a slug.

At 6:30 this morning, I was dying for a run. But, the kids were sleeping and I was the only one here. Why not do at least do a workout DVD? As soon as my toe hits a step to head downstairs to work out, my youngest inevitably wakes up.

And once the kids are up, the morning is devoured in a mass of details -- breakfast, clean up, packing up the bags to go anywhere.

Race home for lunch, hoping the kids don’t doze in the car. Dishes. Nap time, now known as the continual shuffling of Abby back into her room, with some laundry/chores/emails/bill-paying thrown in.

Late afternoon: Playing with the kids at the house while trying to attempt food prep, chopping, refereeing, more kid-TV-comas…

And dinner. More dishes. Rushing to bath. Trying to enjoy baths and some of the happiest moments of my kids’ day (but more likely staring at my watch and repeatedly telling them to stop drinking the bath water, there’s pee in there. Don’t push your brother in the tub. I said: DON’T push your brother in the tub. If you pull that tab on the drain, the water’s going to go away. Don’t stand up and pee in the tub. Don’t eat your oogies. Sit down in the tub. I told you to sit down -- It’s not my fault you bonked your head.)

Cups of milk and stories and bedtime and shuttling Abby in and out of her room again and again and again.

Laundry. Clean up. Try to be coherent enough for computer time. Collapse.

Go to sleep too late. At least one kid up overnight, multiple times (yep, even the toddler -- twice again last night).

Fall back asleep just in time to get up and start over.

Breathe.

Someone asked me how I was the other day, and I told her about the kids/husband/house. The response: But where are you in all of that?

And here’s the thing: I don’t know. I’m pounding on the glass somewhere, but that room seems to be sealed off and soundproof.

I have two really active kids. Kids that have to be kept busy and who have to get out to remain tolerable. But what about what it takes for me to remain human?

How do I get it all done? How do I make that time for a simple run for myself?

Do I not make plans for my kids in the mornings, their best time of day?

Do I stop worrying about cooking healthy food (which would partially defeat the point of the runs anyway)?

Do I kill the kids’ afternoon nap and their sense of routine?

I’m not making it through the day’s “have-to’s.” I am drowning in the details.

Where am I in all of this?

Please, tell me. What projects or activities do you do to create balance? How do you make the time?

*Originally posted at It Builds Character.

Tracy May is editor and contributor at It Builds Character...and other parenting cliches, a group blog about parenting survival.

Photo Credit: marksteele.

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