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Totally Together

How To Be Balanced While Looking for Balance

February 28, 2011 by  

Is it possible to remain on an even keel even when you are in the midst of personal discovery?

I was asked last week if I had a personal motto. I hesitated for a second, then blurted out:


I didn’t know that had been floating around my inner thoughts, but once I said it, I felt an enormous release of positive energy.

This is it. This is for real. I do not expect my children to be robots, so why should I expect to be “on” all the time? Why should I expect my cupcakes to look like the way they do on TV, or my garage shelves to be color coordinated? Why should I beat myself up if I happily feed my kids apple dippers from McDonalds every Wednesday because that’s our early-out day and it makes them happy, and if they’re happy then I’m happy?

I shouldn’t. and neither should you.

Sandy wrote this in the comment section of the post I did the other day:

As much as I’d love to, I cannot do everything I want to do in a day. Trust me, I’ve tried. I cannot work out (P90X week 11, baby!!!), pray, read my bible, wipe down all my bathrooms, do 2 loads of laundry, cook a healthy dinner from scratch, write a witty blog post, drive my kids all the places they need to be, have s*x with my husband, blow dry my hair and play doll house with my 4 year old all on the same day. So I’m learning to prioritize the things that matter the most to me and let the other things go. FYI, it’s usually the s*x that I let go.

I love her honesty, and I know for a FACT that she is the norm. We all are. It’s hard work (really hard work) not not constantly feel as if you aren’t measuring up. I absolutely agree with Sandy that it’s impossible to be the perfect trophy wife and mother and it’s a futile effort to even try. I’m proud of her.


I’ve got a kid home sick with me today. She’s been vomiting every 90 minutes, and is snoring away at the foot of the bed (where I’m sitting, typing). I hate it that my first thought when she got sick last night was that it was going to “ruin” my day.

I am so ashamed.

My day was not ruined.

The world will keep spinning even though I didn’t post the General Tso’s chicken recipe along with all of the other Chinese food recipes I’ve made. I thought I better squeeze that post in before February was over, because that’s when Chinese New Year is celebrated.

February is over. I missed it.

I so don’t care.

The worst part of “working” on the internet is feeling as if you are continuously treading water. I hate that feeling. I know I could be doing things better. I know I could be tweeting more, or that I should figure out facebook. I know that I should attend more conferences, ask to be placed on panels, and further my brand (man, I really hate that term).

I know these things.

but I’ve decided to Just. Not. Care. I read post after post and article after article about outsourcing this or that or using VAs (virtual assistants) to leverage time efficiently.

Guess what I refuse to outsource? The kids.


You know your family the best. You know if you’re “phoning it in”—– please, take stock.

nothing else matters. it really doesn’t.

I’ve done all three acronyms: SAH, WOH, and now WAH. I was actually more on my game when I worked outside the home because I was able to walk away from work completely and be fully engaged. I loved being a stay at home mom, loved every second of it, but did have a nagging feeling in the back of my head that I should be “doing” something to contribute to the family finances, and felt like I didn’t want to lose my identity.

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to finding balance. The only solution is to keep questioning whether or not you’re on the right path. If you aren’t, you’ll  know it. Change course.

Don’t wait.


Nigel Marsh did this video (10 min) and it’s worth playing in the background, if you have the chance (there’s a bit of questionable language, so be aware if you’ve got littles on your lap). I found it on the BloggingLabs site (where I go to read, ironically enough, how to be a better blogger).

Enjoy yourself. Enjoy your kids.

Have a great day.


Want even more? Buy the book! Totally Together: Shortcuts to an Organized Life is available now. This handy-dandy weekly planner will hold your hand throughout the year and will give you all the reminders and helpful prods you need to have the Very Best Year, ever. No need to wait for the New Year to start your organization mission, you can start at any time. Enjoy!

Post a comment · 19 Comments »


19 Responses to “How To Be Balanced While Looking for Balance”

  1. Nancy @SensitivePantry on February 28th, 2011 5:27 pm

    Stephanie – you are right on target! I have had this talk with myself for the last 2 decades as I’ve tried to balance a career, family, home, friendships, oh yeah, and myself. Sometimes I do it well. Other times–not so much. I could exercise more, get my nails done once in awhile, volunteer to help those in need, pay more attention to having fun with my husband, spend more time with my mother, travel the world with my son! But, I fit all those things in now and then and never with as much attention and passion as I wish to give to them and to myself. I can tell you that time moves by faster and faster as you get older. The time to savor life is now. Like right this very moment.

    And, as you said, if you get out of balance just take a minute to breathe and then try again.

    Thanks for reminding me. (Goosfraba. Goosfraba. Goosfraba. 😉

  2. Mir on March 1st, 2011 4:44 am

    I heart you. So, so much. AND I’m putting food in the crock right now. It’s double love!! :)

  3. Diane-thewholegang on March 1st, 2011 5:31 am

    Oh Steph you are so on target. It’s really hard to be working from home on an business that involves the internet. It can suck away so much time and sometimes it’s hard to see what the pay off is. One can only spread themselves so thin. One thing I’ve gotten good at this year is not worrying about things around the house that are not done because I was doing something for my son or hubby. They are more important. I love food blogging and my daily journal blogging on most days. It doesn’t contribute very much to the bottom line of our family. It also doesn’t connect for very long with most of the people reading my blog. I think that’s why I’m going to school to become a Health Coach. I want to have more interaction with the people I’m helping and less time commenting around the internet so people still remember me.

    I’m going to do a little write up about your post and share it on CMLJ tomorrow. I just love how you share what others are also thinking. Thanks Steph!

  4. Sandy Cooper on March 1st, 2011 5:52 am

    Oh Stephanie….
    If only I could reach through this computer and give you a big long hug. You just have no idea the absolute perfect timing of me reading this post. I, too, woke up yesterday to a vomiting child. Which means the only 4 hour break I get this week, I will no longer get because you can’t very well send a vomiting child to Mother’s Day Out.

    Add to that the relentless, nagging feeling that I’m treading water. I just feel like I can’t hold it all together most days. I know I don’t have to. But I feel like I should. It’s crazy.

    I am going through a season where I’m extending myself very little grace. Feeling like I could and SHOULD be doing so much more to contribute to society. Change the world. Update my blog posts. Mop the floors.

    Now, about that timing….so I was just up in the bathroom crying and asking God to give me the endurance to be a good mom and a good wife today….

    And then while my oatmeal was cooking on the stove, I wiped away my tears and checked e-mails, and there you were.

    And there I was.

    Cuz you totally quoted me.

    And it was so very, very cool, because it just felt like God was speaking directly to me. Because my name was right there and everything.

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

    I’m going to read this post 20 more times. And then I’m going to ask God (again) how to give this message legs. I know all this in my head, but I have a really hard time living it out. Sometimes I do well living it out. Sometimes I don’t. I am definitely feeling right now like I don’t.

    Big, big hugs. I love you very much.


    • Sarah H on March 3rd, 2011 5:31 pm

      Sandy, isn’t it amazing how sometimes the Lord just gives you a big flashing “I love you and know you” sign when you need it most? This post has been a godsend to me too, as I have been struggling with feeling inadequate.

      I think the most valuable thing I got from therapy (but also the thing I had the hardest time really deep down gut believing) is that my worth is not related to my actions. No, that doesn’t mean that I should run around doing evil, or being a useless lump, but I am worthwhile regardless of what I do. Something you’d think a Christian wouldn’t have a hard time believing, eh? But there’s all that MOM guilt.

      So I hope you have a great day tomorrow and while I’m praying in the bathroom myself to be a loving mom and wife I’ll pray for you too, and all the moms and wives and women struggling to do what’s best and be satisfied with what they’ve offered for the day.

      • Sandy Cooper on March 5th, 2011 7:15 am

        Sarah H.

        It’s comments like yours that make me love the blogging community so much. Big hugs to you!!!


  5. Jamie on March 1st, 2011 10:54 am

    Thanks. Nice to hear that others struggle with this and I’m not the only one who can’t make it all fit into a 24 hour day!!!

  6. Shirley @ gfe on March 1st, 2011 8:09 pm

    Stephanie, this is such a wonderful post on so many levels. I never worked from home so when my child was sick (unless he was really ill like your little one and I was worried about him) the time home would often be an unexpected gift to us. None of my bosses would complain about a sick child. And, “constantly treading water” … yeah, that’s it. Time to regroup as you are doing, Steph.


  7. Kelly Welch on March 2nd, 2011 11:15 am

    Dear Stephanie;

    I am so totally where you are, trying to find balance and time with kids AND a clean house, oh yeah, and remind my beloved that he is so worthy of my love and respect (even if not tonight honey I have a headache is trying to become my mantra). Add on top of that I’m in my final quarter of school before internship, where I will cease my 15 delightful years of SAHM and become a member of the working force again due to necessity, AND my husband’s digestion problems require that I now cook for him FROM SCRATCH a sugar free, wheat free, low carb diet…………

    Life tries to take over at an incredible speed sometimes. When it gets so crazy I forget to pray, or don’t have time with God (even if its 5 minutes while I’m taking a shower) I KNOW its time to take a break. I realize afresh what a great blessing it is that the new covenant sealed in Jesus blood is a covenant of GRACE. That God so loves me where I am, that I don’t have to do anything to earn His favor, that He and I are still tight even when I blow it as a mom, wife, sister, friend (housekeeper, etc)

    Deep Breath. Release…………..

    S’good. It’s all good.

    Wild Kelly of Damascus (“Wild”, huh! I’ve been thoroughly domesticated!)

    PS…..anything in your blogs about keeping on a grocery budget while feeding your family a wheat free/sugar free/lo carb diet? And any good recipes for coconut flour? Dang, that stuff is like eating fiber on a stick!

  8. Kim(Cook IT Allergy Free) on March 3rd, 2011 9:16 am

    Hmmm. Yes. I think I am going to kiss you when I see you next week. This is what I needed to read right now. I hate the feeling of competition and annoyance as I am trying to (gulp) build my brand. And I, too, totally hate how that sounds.
    Amongst all of my friends right now, this seems to be the general consensus. Everyone seems to feel like they are treading water and trying to get by, all while dealing with the guilt of the things they are NOT doing.
    I am still thinking about moving to that hut in Costa Rica that my husband keeps teasing me about. No internet. No TV. No technology. How grand that would be.
    But then…I am sure I would feel guilty about that too!
    Okay, off to watch the TED video!
    Thanks for giving me this little therapy session today, Steph!

    • Sandy Cooper on March 5th, 2011 7:17 am

      Ha!!! My husband and I have toyed with that same idea…only we are going to move to the Virgin Islands. :)

  9. Karen S. on March 3rd, 2011 1:32 pm

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you for all you do for us all!!! I so appreciate all the gluten free recipes and in the crockpot too!! My husband and I run our own business and I am a parts runner for him and the entire office staff!!!!!!!!!! Your recipes are such a godsend, there are so many times that I am on the phone from 7:00 Am until after 6:00 in the evening, to have such wonderful recipes to have cooking while I am working is such a relief and then to have them gluten free too!!!!!!! As one with Celiac this is such a miracle. Keep up the wonderful job, you are helping so many of us out!!! Giving us hope to!!!! Sending you alot of hugs!!!
    Karen S

  10. Rosie on March 4th, 2011 1:04 pm

    Thank you Stephanie! I love your honesty (and Sandy’s).

  11. Jaime on March 8th, 2011 4:53 pm

    This was a great post. But really, I read it awhile ago. I’m just checking in to say I hope everyone is feeling better and that your 2nd week of March got off to a better start!
    We had the stomach flu here, and by the time the cycle finished with all of us (including Dad and stepmom’s house) it took almost 3 weeks to end! Thank goodness for the good weather the past few days, I was sooo happy to get the windows open, if only for an hour or two at a time!

    Sending good thoughts your way!

  12. Nicci on December 23rd, 2011 1:01 pm

    Yours is the single BEST cookbook I’ve ever read.

  13. Jessica on December 16th, 2013 4:15 pm

    I’m absolutely in love with your blog. I have just stumbled upon it by googling ‘mom home planner meal guide calendar’ – did you catch all that lol? Essentially, after being laid off, I have been converted into a stay at home mom who feels like she’s doing an craptastic job at making dinners from scratch, always having gourmet snacks for my toddler, my house is always a mess because we sold ours and had to move into my in-laws unnoccupied house for 6 months while our house is built, and let’s not even talk about the laundry that I can’t get put away let alone the stains out… But, I wanted to thank you for being eloquently honest. I have seriously sat here during nap time and read 10 blog posts – which everyone knows is the most valuable time of each day 😉

    • Stephanie on December 29th, 2013 10:38 am

      I’m so happy you found me, Jessica! enjoy your nap time — it disappears quickly!

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