November always reminds me that some months mean that there is no such thing as work-life balance.
Some months offer a lot more balance. In December I cash in much of the comp time I earn in November. With two major fundraisers within two weeks of each other, I long for November 30.
But, through all of the busniness, I manage to keep some semblance of order at home. Something does suffer. . . I’ve only made a handful of visits to the gym. BUT, though I am busy at work, and have done some of my side work of speaking and consulting, I still want to be available for my family.
So that means, that during a busy time, I turn down some of the “fun” things,. I don’t get to the gym. Coffee with friends is rare. I don’t even make it to chapel at the girls’ school every week.
BUT, what I do do is have dinner with my family. Some of it comes out of a slow cooker. Some is picked up from a pizza place on my way home. . . but we dine together.
I do make an effort to be there for bedtime for the littles. I can’t always be there, But I really try to be there.
No, There is no balance. I miss bedtime more than I want to. Dinner is cooked by others more than I want it to be. This is not ideal.
But I also know that this is temporary. If every month was November, I would have to be done. But after November comes sweet, beautiful, December. December with Advent. December with baking cookies and wrapping gifts. December with sleeping in with kiddos with days off of school. December with decadent foods and dancing around our Christmas tree. . December with family movie nights and popcorn for dinner.
Yes, I love my job. But I am so thankful that November only comes once a year.
One of the toughest challenges of being a working mom is trying to fit everything in. We feel this (unspoken) need to make sure that the home is being run just as well or better than it was when we were there full-time. We want to make sure that the schools realize that we “have it all together” and that we are not dropping any homework or volunteering balls. We want to prove to our husbands that we are superwomen.
Or, maybe that is just me.
But I suspect that it is you as well.
As an extroverted introvert I need quite a bit of margin.
Way back in my MOPS days, one of our speaker explained margin plainly. She explained that every mom needs some breathing room. Some come by it by waking up very early in the morning. (hello! So NOT me! You won’t see me tweeting abut my #miraclemorning anytime soon.) Some stay up late at night. (more my style). But some find it difficult to say no to things, or just have a super demanding life and that margin never, ever happens.
And then. . . Mama has a breakdown.
It is rarely pretty.
So, the advice that this wise mom gave is what I am going to pass on to you today.
You have to schedule (or, truth be told, unschedule) margin. This wise woman gave the advice to mentally divide your day into three parts–morning, afternoon and evening. The goal is to leave one of those blocks unscheduled.
And, I really do try to do this. Now, before you jump to the conclusion that another woman on Facebook did a few weeks ago, “Wow, it must be nice for you to have such a flexible schedule!”, let me remind you that I have six children, a husband, a 40 hour a week job, committees, friends, and commitments. I also have the same 24 hours a day to work with as you do.
So, when I say that I leave a block unscheduled each day (and some days it just cannot happen), I am not saying that I do nothing at all 5 mornings a week. What it looks like in my life is that if I have a morning meeting on Monday, and a lunch date with a friend that day, I need to make sure that my evening is less structured so that I do not feel like a whirling dervish. Or, if the kids have activities every night this week–concerts and sports events and parties–I need to use my lunchbreak at work wisely, and use that time to pick up groceries, run to the post office, or even get my hair trimmed.
Margin means that I am not double parking my brain.
Margin means that I am scheduling time for things that refresh and renew me.
For example, mornings in our house are crazy. There is not a single morning person in our family, and we all have to head out the door within minutes of each other. Even if I could sneak away and spend five minutes in devotional time, it would be far from peaceful.
So I set aside my first bit of time at work for a devotion and to read part of a professional development book. I do this before cracking open the email or updating the social media calendars. I schedule that time in, before the day can get away from me.
I set aside my lunchbreak to write. Some days I run errands and meet friends for lunch, but mostly I write. Writing clears my mind and renews me. So I schedule it in. . .or it would never happen.
Margin makes me a better woman, and my family realizes when I am running short on it. There are times when it just does not happen, like busy seasons at work, or holidays, or getting ready to leave on vacation. But, as a rule, I try to make sure it occurs.
Chime in! How do you make sure to get margin in your life? Leave me a comment or a tweet!
*Disclosure: I was provided with a gift card in order to facilitate this post. I was not required to post a positive review and all opinions are 100% my own.
This is my third fall season in my not-so-new job. As I wrote about earlier this week, my work wardrobe has been a work in progress, and I finally feel like I have been hitting a mindful stride in what I wear and how I wear it.
Back in August I was approached by Gordmans, a discount department store, to do a feature on back to school shopping. I was happy to do so, but, at the time, our nearest Gordmans store was about three hours away. When I looked at the website, I noticed that a brand new Gordmans store would be opening right here in town at the end of September. So I asked if we could change the editorial focus to Fall work fashion.
Shopping at Gordmans is a new experience for me, but not a new store at all. As a matter of fact, Gordmans is celebrating 100 years this year! And because of that, Gordmans sent me a $100 gift card to spruce up my fall wardrobe and to learn more about Gordmans.
From their website, I was able to learn a little more about the Gordmans story:
Born in 1915 out of a small retail store at the corner of 16th and Chicago in Omaha, Nebraska, Gordmans is proud to celebrate more than 100 years in business. Fashion trends may come and go, but Gordmans has thrived knowing that low-cost, high-quality apparel and décor are always on-trend.
“We’ve delivered high-quality merchandise at great values for 100 years. Not many companies come close to fulfilling that promise, or lasting that long,” said Andy Hall, president and chief executive officer. “Looking toward the future, we will continue to build our national brand portfolio and further enhance the guest experience as Gordmans continues to grow by adding stores and ecommerce channels.”
First, I peeked at the website, as I’m learning to plan my clothing purchases more carefully. There was quite a variety online, but merchandise varies from store to store. Guests can now conveniently shop online at Gordmans.com, providing 24/7 savings of up to 60% off department store prices, anytime, anywhere. There is also free shipping on all orders over $75.
I arrived at the new store with a few things on my list. I was looking for burgundy jeans, a long cardigan, a burgundy top, and a camel blazer. The store was well laid out, and very large. I am a seasoned discount shopper, but often find shopping at discount stores to be overwhelming, as there can be so much sorting out to do when looking through the racks of clothes. I was happy to see that Gordmans has everything set out neatly and attractively and it was easy to sort by size.
I thought that this sign in the fitting room was cheery!
I ended up finding a long, grey cardigan that will go with much of my fall wardrobe, a cute, comfy, swingy burgundy top, and a fun pink and white chevron tunic top that gets me compliments every time I wear it. (I am generally afraid of bold prints, but I am working on getting out of my comfort zone!).
I also found some fun accessories–like this sliver toned wristwatch with just the right amount of bling, and some gold toned earrings to balance out my earring collection. I have been working on getting more accessories into my wardrobe as they really do make the outfit!
I even was able to pick up a pair of fun umbrellas for the twins who had been begging for them–which is a guarantee for no more rain!
All of this for $101! I also joined the gRewards program and I am halfway to a $10 reward plus, I earned $10 in Gordmans dollars!
I don’t *need* anything more for my fun fall capsule wardrobe. . .but I am sure I’ll be back!
I’m afraid of heights. I’m not necessarily afraid of tall buildings or elevators. . . those are enclosed. But I might not go out on a small balcony up high, and I don’t like being crowded in high places. I will take the stairs over an escalator, but those stairs had better have a railing to hold on to. (and after my slip and fall this past weekend, they better not have soapy water on them!)
You see, my fear has led to a lot of “rules” that I have imposed on my life.
There are things that I “just say no” to, because I am afraid.
Now, I’m a big girl. I’m OK with not getting on diving boards and not riding the roller coasters. But I just might be missing out on a certain amount of fun or joy by skipping those things.
What if my fear was something that held me back even more? What if I was afraid of being embarrassed? What if I was afraid of making mistakes? What if I was afraid of failing? What if what I was really afraid of was succeeding? (You know, because, if I do well at something, more people will want me to keep doing it, better and better–more of us have this fear than we care to admit!)
So, what is it that you are afraid of, and what are your motivations for that fear?
Once upon a time I was terribly afraid of motherhood. I was unsure that I would be a good mother. Having come from a broken home, I was afraid that we would not provide the stability that one (ore more) kids would need. I did not have much time to ponder that fear, as God blessed us with a baby soon after our first wedding anniversary. He has turned out to be a pretty neat adult, in spite of or because of my mothering.
I learned that God often equips us with what we need, when we need it. I learned that mothering offers a lot of on-the-job training!
When it was time for me to re-enter the workforce, I had a lot of fears. What if I was not skilled enough. What if my employer found out that I am a sham? What if I get in over my head? What if my family hates me working? What will the other moms think?
But the fact remained that I needed to work. And I had good skills to offer. I did lack confidence, but that is building, over time. I had to push past my fear.
Did you see that?
I had to push past my fear.
We tell our kids to do that all the time. “just try it, you don’t have to love it.”, “Maybe it will be easier this time.” , “I know you can do it!”, “You will be so proud of yourself when you are done!”
Why is our self-talk so different from the ways we encourage others? Why are we less deserving of optimism?
for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
(2 Timothy 1:7 ESV)
It is my prayer that each of you can remember that your strength and fearlessness comes from God, the model encouraging parent!
The problem with working in social media is that sometimes I cannot or will not take my own advice. I teach people to create and use editorial calendars, and how to spread themselves across social media channels without spreading too thin; and then I go and forget my poor, sweet, blog for weeks on end
I’ve had a lot of fun keeping up with some of the newer trends and platforms in social media. Have you heard of Periscope yet? Periscope is a live video platform that is a Twitter spinoff. It is a lot of fun, and I’ve enjoyed getting to know some fellow bloggers better. I jumped into Periscope with both feet this past week after joining a #PeriscopeWithPurpose Challenge on Blog Clarity. Mel does a great job of introducing the platform and providing useful prompts for a month of “scoping”. Now, if only I can remember to do my Periscope broadcast when I still have my work clothes and make-up on, it would be even better. . . or maybe I’m just keeping it real. Feel free to follow me on Periscope. Feel free to follow me on Periscope, and while you are watching my scopes, be sure to tap for hearts so I know that you are there!
I’m participating in another wardrobe challenge with Get Your Pretty On. One of the trickiest parts of re-entering the workforce for me was wardrobe. When I was a stay at home mom I had church clothes and home clothes. My home clothes were either jeans or yoga pants and a collection of Target t shirts. When I started my job I bought some grey slacks and some black slacks and a few cardigans that I would wear with my collection of Target t shirts. I never felt very put together. And, as a “bigger girl” this made me just feel frumpy. These style challenges have given me a chance to try a few trends as well as learned some classic styling ideas. I’m learning to make a few basic pieces work overtime. Over time I am developing seasonal capsule wardrobes. And I no longer feel like I have the “What Not to Wear” camera crew following me to work anymore.
I slipped and fell down my basement stairs on Sunday afternoon. Through some miracle (really!) I came out of it bruised and sore, but with all of my bones intact. I have a very good relationship with my LaZboy recliner, and have spent my after work time in it with my feet up, which has helped a lot. I think having to get up and get moving and still take care of my family has probably helped as well. Move it or lose it as I like to say. I probably need to wear athletic shoes around the house though. Seriously. I’m a “faller”, I need all of the traction I can get.
Pam Thompson is a Pastor's wife, mom to six great kids and a professional fundraiser. She loves encouraging other moms to live life with both hands full!
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