Still Struggling to Balance Kids, Work, Life? Read This

Write your priorities down (sounds simple, but too few of us do it) — then check the best advice from a pediatrician and mom

by Meg Meeker, MD | Updated 08 Mar 2018 at 10:43 AM

People often ask me, “How do you balance work, parenting, and life?”

As one who has struggled to maintain balance all of my life, I feel for those who are currently trying to accomplish this.

What I’ve learned in my years of being a pediatrician, wife and mom is that the key to a balanced life is knowing your priorities.

Make your priorities crystal-clear and write them down. This sounds a bit obvious, but what gets us in trouble isn’t that we don’t know what our priorities are; rather, it’s the ability to keep them front and center on a daily basis.

Most of us who believe in God know that He comes first. But do we pray daily? We also know that our spouse and kids are more important than work — but do we make sure we listen to our spouse and kids as much as we do friends, co-workers or employees? Probably not.

If you write down: “God first, marriage second, kids third, work fourth,” then making these your priorities will be much easier.

Keep it simpleI try to keep things very simple. If you want to have a good day and you believe God comes first, start the day praying. You can keep it short, but asking God's direction for the day and thanking Him that you get to live another will lend itself to an entirely different type of day.

One thing to remember: Making God a priority means praying and listening, not simply working for Him 24/7. There is a big difference. Most of us are more comfortable working for someone rather than being with him or her.

If family comes second and work third, then make time to talk to family members and listen to them as much as you would to a friend or employee. The truth is, most of us are much nicer to strangers than to our spouses and kids.

Reverse that.

Redefine balance. I've always been intrigued with the modern concept of balance. We, especially women, believe that maintaining balance is a bit like dieting: Eat a little of everything each day, and you'll keep a healthy weight. So we try to do a little bit of many things each week and end up exhausted.

Maybe the reason behind much of our frustration and exhaustion is an unrealistic definition of "balance." The truth is, we aren't supposed to do everything at once.

Related: Moms, Just 'Be'

I was worried many years ago, when my children were young, about doing enough volunteer work.

A wise pastor once told me, "Don't worry, you'll die right on time."

In other words — if there is something that you really need to do, God will give you the time to do it, whether it is in one year or 10 years. In the meantime, take a deep breath, make peace with the reality of not being a superhero, and do the best you can with what is in front of you today.

Related: Three Character Traits of a Hero Dad

We treat kids as though they are adaptable, malleable and easily raised. They aren't.

They need our time, attention and sweat. Most of us parents — employed and stay-at-home — aren't spending enough time with our kids. We often need to give up volunteering, running kids around crazily, and actually be with them.

Then, later in life, when they are gone, we can work more and volunteer all we want.

Dr. Meg Meeker has practiced pediatrics and adolescent medicine for more than 30 years. She is the author of the book, "Hero: Being the Strong Father Your Children Need" (Regnery Publishing, May 2017), along with a number of digital parenting resources and online courses, including The 12 Principles of Raising Great Kids.

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