Finding Balance: Where Do I Begin?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
This is the first in a series about how to find the balance between work, family and your own health and fitness goals.

Starting over is hard. You had a regular exercise routine, a healthy diet and were working toward your health and fitness goals. Then life got in the way. Maybe you got off track because you got busy at work, bought a new house or if you're like me, had a new baby. Your own goals took a backseat to other priorities, and some of those old habits started to creep back into your life. Now the new year has you ready to make a fresh start and find the time to put yourself first. But the question becomes: Where do you begin?

If you're like me, you know that taking care of yourself will make you a better wife, mom, daughter, insert your own title here. But somehow, when I'm surrounded by mouths that need to be fed, diapers that need to be changed, and laundry that needs to be folded, I don't take time to think about myself and what I need. With that in mind, I've decided to set some goals for myself, both short term and long term for the coming year. By making a plan for where I want to go and how I'm going to get there, I'm much more likely to follow through.

Running is my passion. It helps me relieve stress and feel strong (both physically and mentally), which is why one of my goals is to run a marathon this fall. This is something I'm doing for myself, but it's also for my kids because I hope they'll become inspired to run with me someday. The marathon is my long-term goal, I'm going to follow a training plan to help me prepare for the race, and I've also set some short-term goals to run a 15K and half marathon in the spring. By setting a long-term goal, creating a detailed plan of how I'm going to reach it and some short term steps along the way, I'm setting a good path for success. I also need to get agreement from the important people in my life that they will support me as I work toward my goals. For example, my husband has agreed to watch the kids while I go out for my long runs (which can be quite lengthy since I'm not a fast runner).

When I told my husband that I was going to start writing this series, he snickered. "What's so funny?" I asked. "Don't you think it's a little ironic that you'll be giving people advice about finding balance when you have such a hard time doing that yourself?" It's true; I'm not good at putting myself first or finding the balance between being a wife, a mom and being me. But I'm working on getting better at it. And for those of you who also struggle with finding the balance, maybe we can work on it together.

Setting my goals and developing a plan is my first step toward finding the balance. Do you struggle to find a balance in your own life? If so, what's your first step going to be?

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KHALIA2 2/14/2020
I struggle with my husband after his stroke,I have to wake him at 6 0'clock every morning to take his medicine!!! Report
CECELW 1/5/2020
some goals are just difficult to achieve. Balance, i'm sure is most likely one of the hardest things to achieve Report
Thanks! Report
thanks Report
Excellent share...Thx!

@ZARAH140, you're right. I find it is easier to find a balance now that I'm divorced than before. Report
In life that's all we can do is the best we can. Some times we will sore others we will bore but no matter what keep pushing we are ALL worth it. Report
Great article. I have always struggled with balance; when I find something that catches my interest I take it to the extremes. The problem is my interests change fast. Report
I set goals but didn't achieve them--- I need more time in a day--- Report
This article struck a note with me, some years ago my life spiralled out of control and the one thing I lost was any balance in my life. Now it is the thing I see as most important to me, I have spent the last few years working on balance in my life and now I am at a point where I am using what I have learnt to help others by running groups on developing balance in our lives. Report
This was SUCH a good article for me today. I'm hoping that I can take your advice and incorporate some of this into my life. Report
Good article. I can relate. A wise mentor told me once, 'We teach what we need to learn.' I have found that to be true in my life. And I hope it will always be true, because that means I will always be learning. Report
Your article hit home with me, especially your comment about how your husband reacted to you finding balance. I have found that so often the person you are closest to has the most power to derail your efforts. Sometimes they don't realize the impact their comments have on you and then sometimes they are well aware of it and do it anyway. I have experienced the same thing in my life. I find my actions are too easily influenced by the lack of support from the individual who is supposed to be the most important person in my life. I understand it logically, but not in my heart. But I need to focus on moving past the hurt feelings and do what is right for me. In the end I know if I am happier with myself, I will be a better wife, mother and friend. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Report
Libra lady here. I struggle continually with the scales. I always teetering on the edge. I was almost ready to jump off. However, because of health issues, the warning signs are now beeping loudly. I have to take control of myself and take time to reorganize and prioritize my life. My family has agreed with me to start fresh and each one of us recognize what is really important. Each of us will support each other in changing the way we interact so that we can come together as a family. Taking time for yourself is so important. Everyone can do something to make a healthy home if the family identifies individual needs and adapts new coping skills and ways to compliment and complete the tasks at hand. Children really need the most support and immediate needs have to be addressed. Sharing responsibilities, role changing, and learning new skills are one of the things we are committed to trying to start tipping the scales back to the right position. Each person in our home needs to have time for themselves. We put our daughters commitments on a calendar. My husband and I will choose who will assist her. Then we both commit to tasks we must accomplish together and split up the rest. It's progressing and I have been able to make progress on my personal goals as well. It's a slow simple beginning and I am happy to say that I am not feeling on the edge at this time. I'm looking forward to a Very Progressive and Balanced New Year. Report
October baby here. Being a libra the scales are always tipping and tottering to balance. I Report
I can relate to all you are going through. My children are grown; but I remember those day. Funny, they grow up and the challenge to find a balance continues. The old saying, 'A woman's work is never done' is soooo true. And the love of our lives often say such destructive things. It can take decades before they realize it is not helpful. I've learned to decide for myself what is priority; since trying to satisfy everyone elses expectations never seems to satisfy anybody. Report
Thank you so much for this blog. I struggle so much finding balance. Baby is first, then work (I do them both at the same time!), the husband, then house. I am frequently so completely overwhelmed I break down. There just isn't enough time in the day for everything that needs doing, much less for me. I never have time to do set exercise, and it's tough taking the time to meal plan and prepare grocery list. There have been weeks where everything on the grocery list is for my husband and child, nothing I should be eating. When I ask my husband for help, he pledges it, but never comes through. Since my daughter started walking she doesn't want to be confined to the stroller, so even the long walks we used to take at the end of the day are no longer an option. *sigh* Thanks for letting me know I'm not the only one! I'm looking forward to finding the inspiration to keep trying. Report
I have trouble making time for myself. I always put family, work, and school first. I am trying to turn over a new leaf and take time for me each day. Report
This blog really struck home for me. I don't respond to blogs normally but this one was mentioned in the anniversery memory blog and I skipped over to look at it. Last year I started my life all over fresh. I got a job close to home so I was not commuting 4 hours a day. Got a schedule that gave me mornings free to be with the dogs and got me into a wellness program at the new hospital I work for. I got right into the routine I had been in years ago and lost over 50 lbs in 8 months just being back on track with eating 3 times a day and joining a gym and hiking 4 to 7 miles a day with my dog companion.
My spirit soared and I felt I was finally ready to get a life rather than working 7 days a week and just caring for a house and picking up after my last child at home. I started diving and made friends I could go out with occasionally. It seemed like my life was finally balanced!
Then add one new significant other. We actually met on one of my dog hikes so it seemed like a match made for my balanced life. Hah! He is retired and I still work. He has time to go to the gym every day but for me to spend time with him I cannot drive an hour north to my gym before work. All of a sudden the balance is upset again. We have both discussed the problem because his balance also got upset in this transition. Unfortunately I am still struggling since he does not work and his gym is 5 minutes from home. I get to spend time with him in the mornings then I go to work. It's been pretty disheartening for me to know I am the only one not getting any workouts in.
I have worked very hard to get the balance back and have worked out a new work schedule where I only work 3 days a week as of Sept. Hopefully the long hikes will be easy to resume and I can start feeling better about myself again. I won't be able to drive north each day but he did buy me a home gym which he really pushes me to use. I am looking forward to balance again! Report
It's very hard some days... but I am trying. As a mom, mrs., sister, daughter, aunt, community acvitivist my schedule can get damn near out of control. But in the past few months I've started doing this for ME. Making sure I make time for my own well being. Especially now that my toddler is terrible 2! However, the only reason I have a bit more time now is because I'm not working.. but I am still trying to do things as if I were. Early morning workouts and after "work" workouts etc so that I don't completely lose my mind, or my groove, when that part of the equation returns. I hope the spring 15Ks went off without a hitch... best of success on the fall marathon. Report
You know, it has taken me a while to realize I was not balancing anything. I had my first child at 19, second at 21 and my last at 23 years of age. My husband was hurt in a work related accident and has a spinal cord injury when we were 25. He has been so amazing about it. On the other side I was on go mode. With three kids, dr. appts and helping my husband I didn't have time to balance anything. I have one child at home and I am so out of shape, and can't seem to do the things to focus and discipline myself. This website looks like it is going to give me the assistance I need. Report
I did better "balancing" when I was younger, working a high stress job, running 1/2 marathons and having dinner parties. Now I am middle aged and my energy is down because of my weight and medical issues. I did have it all, and I still do, except it is a different plate that is full. I have surrendered to the fact that exercise is not an option, do some every day, cook lighter, but not as much, and making decisions that will stay with me for the rest of my life. Life is precious. Report
What is "balance"? lol I work full time, am earning my MBA part time, I have a 5 year old daughter with dance classes and swimming lessons... I don't find time for myself, I MAKE time for myself. The only way that I can get time to work out, read or anything else I enjoy is if I schedule it into my day. And then still, sometimes other responsibilities creep in. I'm looking forward to learning more about balance!!! Report
Finding balance is difficult at best for me. I have a circle of family and friends that I love and if they need help...I am there for them. One day it really hit home that I needed to include ME in that circle. That is the day I started to find a little balance in my life. Hard? Yep, still is. To include time for me...I had to learn to sometimes say no to others. Thank you for sharing that this is difficult for you to always do also. Now, I give to me what I am willing to give to others in my life that I love. Oddly enough...taking care of me has made it easier to do more. :) Who knew? LOL Report
I am so glad I took time to read this article. It drew me like a magnet. I am striving for balance to take care of myself, so I will be around longer for my family and friends. Thank you for this article coach Jen. Sandy Report
Thanks for writing this blog! I've had a tough time finding balance between, work, school, family, and my health! I seem to be a workaholic and have had a hard time setting boundaries between work and my life. I have recently made a committment to run for a charity event (which I've never done before) and I've just started running again and tracking my workouts to be able to do this. It's been hard to put myself first each day and fit in these workouts but I'm doing it-- I hope to keep doing it. Thanks for the inspiration! Report
I think all women have a hard time balancing their lives. We are always putting eveyone else's needs in front of ours. I think you are on the right track, if you right it down you feel you must follow through. So thanks for the article I'll be checking back for more. Report
This has always been my biggest problem. I am never my #1 priority. Even with my children all grown now. This is now going to be my priority. Report
this semester i have a lot more time on my hands than normal. im hoping to take advantage of this time to jumpstart my fitness routine. hopefully when things start to get more hectic, it will have already become so much of a habit that it will be easier and less time consuming to plan my meals and time to exercise, etc. Report
It is so hard for me to find balance living here in NYC. Riding the subway at rush-hours in the morning and evening is a headach by it self. I am just learning how to take care of me. i worry about everyone else and leave "ME" at the wayside. i am tired at the end of the day (1:00AM), so, I now take mini vacation w/o my family, I go out with the gals from work once in a blue moon for a drink, and I sat and knit or read a book. usually i will make sure the beds are made, laundry is washed, dinner is cooked, homework is done; it goes on and on. I am doing more for me now. I want to see a movie and if my b/friend don't want to see it with me, i will go alone. Report
The balance for me is knowing how I feel when I'm on the treadmill - I see the miles and the calories numbers going up and the harder I work, the faster the numbers come and that makes me feel like I'm really working towards my goal. If Life happens, I remember how easy it got to walk to the gym, how easy it was to get on the treadmill, and how easy it was to get walking as I was jamming to my music. Report
Like another poster, I have plenty of time for "me" right now. But I don't know what to do with all of this time because for years I was busy with full-time work, single parenting and then adjusting to a late-in-life marriage. I'm still adjusting to the last but I want to learn how to take care of me in a 'balanced' way and a way that I can stick with. Report
Congrats recognizing that you need to get back to the balance in the first place. Too often we let it get too far until it seems impossible to have a balance and a life outside of work, parenting or other peoples needs, etc. I will be on this journey with you and only started a short while ago. I'm reclaiming that part of my time is "mine". The biggest step I need to learn is setting boundaries for me. This means setting boundaries that are clear and concise for myself and others to protect me from other people taking advantage of me and my time. It seems that this may be setting boundaries for others, but it really is for myself, so I can begin having a balance again. My imbalance mainly came from work, but it doesn't matter what the cause, it's what you do to overcome it. Report
Congratulations on setting a goal for you. I think we woman tend to put our needs behind everyone's elses. We do need to take care of our needs, so that we can in turn be healthy
to take care of our loved ones and every other thing that gets thrown our way.
KUDOS to you. Report
Kudos to those of you or are setting the goal of balance for yourselves as young women/mothers/wives. I spent the better part of my adult life being 100% focused on being a mom to my 5 kids. I didn't learn to put myself first until 3 years ago, after my kids were all adults. When my story was told in USA TODAY the title suggested that I somehow blamed my obesity on my children/husband. Nothing could be further from the truth, it is however, something that all women struggle with and I hope that all of you find your own "me" time while you're young! Report
Thanks Jen for having the courage to write this series as you learn to balance your life. I think it will help us as we can share in the process with you. I was just thinking yesterday, what would I do?, if life happened and I didn't have the luxury that exists in my life today. IT IS ALL ABOUT ME ALL DAY 24 /7.
I am currently unemployed and I thought in some ways this is a blessing, I have time to devote to me and my health and fitness.

I know it will NOT always be the case, NOW I will have a plan for when it changes. That gives me a sense of power and I am thankful for that. Looking forward to the next one.

Paula Report
Good for you! Just by writing these articles will put you in the proper mindset of putting yourself first, healthwise. Report
I think of what we are told to do when an airplane at altitude looses pressurization. Parents are told to put their oxygen mask on first before helping their kids. You see if you pass out from hypoxia while attempting to put the mask on your children you won't be able to help them. You need to take care of yourself first so that you will be able to help them.

If you don't take care of yourself than you won't have the strength, endurance, or lifespan to help your kids as much as you should. Report
Your comments were very close to my heart - I have a 3 year old and a 6 year old, am job hunting, trying to set up my own business, completing my studies etc. etc. There are days when I am just paralysed at the the thought of how much I have to do and so little time to do it in! However, just like for you, running has been a great way to safeguard my sanity and to set goals for myself and prove that I can achieve them. I did a powerwalking marathon last year and will be doing a half-marathon next month. If I don't set these periodic goals for myself, I find it far too easy to postpone, procrastinate, slip and slide.... Report
I am really struggling with balance, and I haven't been able to figure it out yet. I'm a wife (and my hubby travels for work), a mother of 2 (2 and 3 years old), and a full time student with extensive amounts of work to do at home. On top of that are the day to day "things" to keep the house running, not to mention my effort to lose weight and get in shape. It all seems so overwhelming.

I have certainly let myself fall by the wayside. It really hit home the other day when I looked at a pic of myself with my daughter a few weeks after she was born. I looked so much younger and fresher than I do now, and that was only 3 years ago! I've let myself go, and I'm afraid that I won't be able to get back.

Balance will forever be a struggle for me. Report
Thank you for starting this series! My work is my family and I often find it hard to take care of myself when things get busy. I am (slowly) learning to let go, and am looking forward to your tips and advice! Report
Balance is one of those things towards which we strive -- and just about the time we think we definitely have it achieved, life throws us a new challenge, so we have to re-balance!

There will always be the naysayers who think we can't speak to something towards which we are striving. Well, we are better qualified to know the challenges!!! Report
Congratulations on planning to run a marathon! I would love to do something like that to prove to everyone (including myself) who think I could never do something like that. I have never been a runner (played softball as my sport, because I only had to run 60 feet and then stop before running another 60 feet and stopping), but I've always been attracted to runners. In fact, my husband ran cross country in HS and college, and he continues to run today, although not competitively. He's tried to get me into running several times throughout our marriage, but it's just not my thing even though I wish it was. Good luck to you and remember, "The person in front of you is struggling more than you are. You CAN pass them!" Report
Great article and thank you for writing it. I am COMPLETELY out of balance and I know that. I find myself doing the same things over and over knowing they only lead to failure. I go at everything "whole hog" or nothing and I end up with just that..."nothing". Will this time be different???? I don't know but I do know that I now plan to go at things in moderation. Starting today, I will make those changes and realize that I can't get things accomplished for me by sitting here on this computer and trying to keep up with all my spark teams.....some of those will have to go. Many blessings to you for success. Chargail Report
Congrats on your goal of running a marathon! I will be rooting for you.
As for balance, I'm pretty balanced right now, but remember the days when I wasn't. It's all about priorities. Report
I appreciate your insight. We (women) do need to take better care of ourselves. God has given us a wonderful body, it's up to us to maintain it. Report
I love this blog as I tend to forget where I need to be and what I need to do in order to reach my goals. I'm looking forward to reading the rest in the series. Now, if you'll excuse me, please.... I need to go and write down a few goals!

Have a great day everyone! Report
Life did get in the way and this past December, I made a decision to quit making excuses and set some obtainable goals. I did it and I am setting new goals & achieving them monthly. Sunny Report
Great article, I need balance! Report
" A woman is like a tea never know how strong she until she gets in hot water"

Eleanor Roosevelt

You Husband should read this quote.
Because as women we do more than men
we are there for so many things they arent even aware of.
The other quote I l love is
"Nobody knows what I do ............'till I stop doing.

Some men, kids too need to have mom go on
a "MOM JOB STRIKE" I did it to prove to my family
(about 6 yrs ago) that my needs are just as important
as theirs. And it worked. I got the help for everyone.
And when things slacked off, I warned them that a strike
coming, meaning: I did nothing for them
no cooking no laundry no shopping no cleaning
for them I only did things as if I were living on my own.
It took them 2 days, they learned quick to respect the
MOM jobs and to help as much as they could.
Being a mom,wife what ever title you put on it,
we give so the everyone else can HAVE, everyone
comes first. We are caregivers, of everyone else.
Being you own caregiver and taking care of your self,
is the best thing you can make time for. It makes you a better MOM
a better WIFE.

read your article. Report