Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Balance to the 4th Degree

This morning I had an early meeting, which meant I had to be up before anyone in the house and get ready without waking everyone up. And I live in a small house. The tiniest speck of light or decibel of noise awakens the entire bunch. I've mastered the art of putting on makeup in the dark. I can sense when I'm reaching the top of the mug when pouring coffee. I shower with a candle as my only light source (kinda nice actually).

My husband hates my early meetings because he has to get the kids up and ready for school without any backup. It means I can't be giving the kids their ninth reminder to get dressed--"or the TV goes off!"--while he's out scraping the snow off the car.

My meeting was for an organization where I am on the board, so it had nothing to do with my day job. Afterward I arrived at work around the same time I usually do. When I called my husband for our noon check-in phone call, he asked if I'd be home early today, since I had gone to work so early. "Well, no," I said. "That meeting wasn't related to my actual work so I can't really justify leaving early." I've explained this before, but he still got a little pissed. When you're with two kids all day, I suspect you start to count down the minutes to when your spouse gets home to help out. To make it worse, I told him that I really needed to fit in a quick run when I get home. So since he's a stay-at-home dad, my board meeting, work day and exercise just turned his work day into an 11-hour day. After I spend some time with the kids tonight, I will have achieved a fairly balanced day. My husband, not so much.

Balance is tricky when you're just one person trying to fit a lot of activities into one day. When you are trying to incorporate balance for every member of a family of four, it becomes exponentially complicated. How do I fit in work, kids, exercise, extracurricular commitments, and on and on without taking advantage of my husband (and often kids) in the process? How do I help them do all the things that they need/want to do too? I don't know. I'm asking. Anyone?

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Power Bun

I don't wash my hair every day. I don't even wash my hair every other day. When I was in high school, I washed and styled my hair using more product than you'd find in a grocery store. It took no less than 45 minutes and my hair was something to behold.

Then I had a child. And I discovered that I could add a day between washings and my hair still looked pretty good. Then I had another child and discovered that I could add one more day and, presuming I kept my blond highlights maintained, my hair still looked good. I've experimented with one more day between washings, but I could only pull that off if I either worked from home or invested in some wide hair bands to cover the oily roots. My hair has always been a huge source of pride for me so my initial non-hairwashing experiment was a huge deal.

Now I've even taken it one step further. I've replaced my long flowing 'do, which, every third day I have exhaustingly, painstakingly blown dry, flat ironed and then curled with my José Eber clipless curling iron, with the easiest, yet still professional in the workplace, 'do ever--the power bun. I know lots of women who sport the work bun when they are having a bad hair day or running late on a given morning. But I've been doing it every single day for two months now. I'm like a pioneer woman, but with a better wardrobe.

I've decided it's the best of all hair worlds. It's attractive and professional. I still get to keep my long hair for days--or date nights with my husband--when I want to actually style it and look superhot. Keeping it long has preserved versatility for all types of non-work activities--ponytail for running, braided pigtails for skiing and half-up 'do or messy bun for weekend errands. And best of all, I no longer need to give my hair a second thought when I'm running around in the morning trying to get ready, throw in a load of laundry, make the bed, respond to the kids' questions, etc. It's like a uniform for your hair.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

I love the feeling of being in balance. When I know I've spent quality time with my kids, had some time to myself, put in some good effort at work and feel connected to my husband, I feel great. Conversely, I feel cranky and unsettled when I am neglecting something important and spending too much time on something else. I am often slow to recognize that it's an issue of balance, but it's there.

Too much time watching American Idol and not enough time helping my son with his homework. Too much time on Facebook and not enough time on a critical work project. I allow this unbalancing to occur because I am scared that if I start doing the things that I'm neglecting, that the balance will then shift too far in the other direction. I think that if I start working on my nagging work project, I'll get sucked into it and not have any time at all to catch up with friends on Facebook. Or that paying bills in the evening will turn in to a two-hour project and leave me with no time to knit or read before I need to go to bed. In other words, I don't try to re-balance because I'm afraid I'll end up doing only the things that aren't fun, relaxing or instantly gratifying.

I used to think the answer was to place limits on the fun stuff. I was wrong. Placing limits on the shitty stuff so that I know that I can stop at a certain point and do something more fun, but without guilt, is the answer. Fun is so much more fun without guilt.