8:45 am already! 2 year old Parth is still crying, his mom Roma is getting nervous about her meeting at 10 am. Will she be able to make it? Her mom in law is trying to help, but Parth’s screams are only getting louder. “Parth will also go with Mumma” – that’s all she can make out in between the screams.  

5:30 pm already! This report needs to get done today at any cost – she knows. But if she doesn’t leave now – Parth is going to be quite upset. “Will the report get done today, Roma?” – Her boss just interrupted her thought. “Yes, you will get it in your inbox by midnight. I need to rush now.” – She says while shutting down her laptop. 

10 pm already! Ok, so dinner is done, kitchen is clean, Roma’s husband is back. So she can probably take a deep breath now. But Parth is no mood to sleep. “I need to get him tired” – she thought. “Take your ball, Parth. We will go downstairs and play”. A moment of happiness comes in when she sees him so thrilled. They play downstairs for about half an hour and by now he is quite tired. Milk is ready, so her husband now puts Parth to sleep.   

11 pm already! Roma opens her laptop and gets on the report. In an hour, it is done. Just when she is about to close her laptop, a mail from her nutritionist drops in – Roma, please limit the intake of coffee to just one cup a day. Also you need to stop skipping your lunch – it is not healthy. Your carb intake is higher and I notice that you haven’t worked out since last one month. Can we have a quick chat tomorrow about your progress? 

Well, with no energy left to think about her food and workouts – she goes off to sleep. “I will deal with this tomorrow” 

6 am already! Next day morning, she wakes up and first thing she steps on the weighing scale with her fingers crossed. 1.6 kgs more than last month and she feels like crying. She looks at herself in the mirror and notices that those dark circles are getting prominent and her body needs a visit to the beauty parlour badly. 

This is isn’t an uncommon story. In fact, it is very similar to my story. Everyday people struggle with managing their work pressures against family pressures and their own health and other hobbies. In India, Mothers get more affected than Fathers do because of the way our Indian culture is. Hobbies? What’s that? All mothers just have one hobby and that is to take care of the children. Right? Extremely wrong.  

An individual needs to be happy him/herself to be able to take care of others. Happiness comes from little pleasures in life – not from being perfect in every area of your life. 

It is ok if your child isn’t excellent in his/her class. It is ok if you get a little less salary hike for a couple of years. It is ok if that promotion gets postponed by another year. It is ok if your husband doesn’t carry an extravagant 3 dabba lunch to office. It is ok if house is a bit messed up all the time. It is ok your life isn’t perfect. Find the little things that can make you happy. Stop judging yourself.  

I realised this some time back after a long period of extreme stress when I was trying keep everything perfect. Now when I look back I see that when I am not happy with myself – it is impossible to keep my son happy. He is all the more cranky when I am stressed out. My husband gets irritated with me because I keep snapping at him when I am stressed out. It doesn’t work for anybody. 

I dropped everything at one time and promised myself that I will take care of myself first. That included working out regularly, eating healthy, parlour visits, reading books, watching movies, meeting my girlfriend’s etc. And when I decided to do this – I realised that I do have time for myself because I can squeeze out time from other areas. Saying NO was the biggest challenge. Even now it is but I am getting better.  

Think of alternatives, what can you delegate at work and at home. Delegation at work largely depends on the kind of work you do. Delegation at home means – can you engage other family members more in household chores? Can you hire help from outside? Can you set the expectations about your availability with other family members? Can you create a support system to take care of kids, while you need to be away?

Think of possibilities and before you make your world your number one priority – remember it is YOU who must come first.  

Lots has been written on how to attain a balance that is almost impossible – be a top performer at work, be available for your family, be fit and healthy yourself.  

The only key for me is to give up being perfect and to do little things for myself. To make this possible, I created a support system for myself. That’s the only way that I have discovered to maintain my sanity while balancing my life! 

What is your solution to this problem? Please do share in the comments.