Having it all is possible (if “all” means three things only, maybe four)

Life with little kids needs to be triaged—pick a few of your most important things, focus on those and let the rest go.

Photo: Courtesy of Katie Dupuis

I’ve spent a lot of time reading about balance lately. Maybe it’s because I feel like I’m sorely lacking in this department. Maybe it’s because on the heels of the worst week I’ve had as a parent so far (our household was plagued early in the week by ear and chest infections, which were promptly followed by the stomach flu for all of us), I have no idea how to dig out from under the mountains of laundry and very necessary cleaning. Maybe it’s because in the blink of an eye, my babies are full-fledged kids—albeit little ones—who are sassy and funny and scale our built-in bookshelves (that last one was Juliette, yesterday). But whatever the reason, right now I seem to be drawn in by every click-bait headline that reads, “How to Get Balance Back in Your Life” and “Yes, You Can Have It All” in my newsfeed.

Two weeks ago, I came across an article on an old tweet by Randi Zuckerberg, sister of Mark, former director of marketing at Facebook and mother of two. As the founder and CEO of Zuckerberg Media and editor-in-chief of lifestyle website Dot Complicated, Randi’s a busy lady. The spirit of her tweet: entrepreneurs have to choose three of the following priorities: work, sleep, family, fitness or friends.

I’ve been flipping that list over and over in my head ever since, because the more I think about it, the more I believe that parents of small children have to make that decision, too. It’s not that you can only have three forevermore, but, yeah, for days or weeks at a time, until your kids are a little more independent. There is no way I can address work, sleep, family, fitness and friends every day, regardless of how well I manage my hours (and I am a great time manager, dammit! I don’t need a time machine, I need Zack Morris-like timeout powers to freeze everything else while I get shit done). I would even add a sixth priority—food—if having homemade family meals together is a top priority for you.

This morning when I woke up, I spent a minute figuring out which three I’ll tackle this week: I’m going for food, sleep and work. We are wiped after last week’s disgusting, snotty, pukey days, and we need to get back on track with the basics. Instead of saltines and apple juice, I need to get some good stuff in our bellies. And we all need to catch some zzzs (you hear me, Juliette? That means you, too, kid). I also missed too much work last week while trying to keep it together on the home front, with the help of my trusty friends Gravol and ginger ale, and this week I need to play catch-up on my to-do list.

The tricky part for me will always be allowing fitness to be a priority. Friends and family are a natural part of my rhythm, while fitness has to be shoehorned in. But give me a few weeks and I’ll make it happen—at least for a few days. I can’t wait for the week when it’s fitness, food and friends. Maybe I can even combine food and friends and have a grown-up dinner party (a girl can dream). That sounds like a balanced combination for me, and it has to happen sooner or later, right?

This article was originally published online in February 2016.

Read more:
Thank you to the woman in Shoppers Drug Mart
Nostalgia is a frenemy when you’re a parent
I thought I’d be a good disciplinarian, but then I had kids

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