Monday, July 3, 2017

Book Nook: Finding Success in Balance

I recently had a chance to review Finding Success in Balance: My Journey to The Cheerful Mind, by April Schleuter. Her story resonates a lot like me, as she's played many roles: actor, vocalist, cheerleader, pianist, ice skater, martial arts black belt, flying trapeze artist, half-marathon runner, engineer, finance and operations manager, organizational expert, teacher, coach, wife, mother, generous friend, published author, and speaker, just to name a few. It's no surprise she struggled with work-life balance, and this book shares the lessons she learned on her journey.

The book doesn't really have anything earth-shatteringly new. However, I really liked it better than many other "balance" books. It was comprehensive and touched on many different areas of life, but it was also short and very easy to read. It was practical without being too wordy, encouraging without being preachy. There are tangible steps and exercises to work towards balance and joy, including matching goals with priorities, finding enjoyment, managing stress, and making time.

I had a chance to interview her to learn more.

Why is balance so important for moms?
Moms have to wear SO many hats. Balance (or at least my “definition” of balance) is a thing we seek in order to not completely lose ourselves in the process of managing all of these roles. For me, my identity as a mother is just as important as my identity as an entrepreneur, friend, daughter, student, and everything else. Being able to be the best version of myself in all of these roles makes me feel happy and fulfilled, so that is what I strive for every day.

What are your biggest tips for stress management?
Self-care is such an important element in managing stress. My best suggestions are to make YOU a top priority and find methods that work best for you that will allow you to regularly practice self-care. These methods can span from meditation, acupuncture, practicing gratitude, getting a manicure/pedicure, massage, or even just some extra sleep… the list is endless! I personally enjoy practicing gratitude in the morning and evening, and sometimes I need more accountability in taking a break to practice self-care, so I always make sure to schedule self-care at least once a week, such as spa appointments, or coffee and lunch dates with friends, to make sure I don’t let my busy life distract me. I know this might seem easier said than done, but giving yourself permission to spoil yourself with fun every once in a while will not only help you, but it will also benefit those who surround you. It’s a win-win for all!  

How can mothers avoid burnout?
The most important thing mothers can do to avoid burnout is to practice constant self-awareness. Very often, “burnout” happens when you’re not expecting it (because naturally, mothers are busy and have a lot on their plate!), and can hit you like a ton of bricks if you’re not careful. I very frequently “check in” on my stress levels to make sure I can make quick adjustments when I’m feeling overwhelm.

How can mothers juggle competing priorities?
I love this question! This is a question I ask myself daily, in order to stay productive and in happy spirits. What I do, once I am clear on what my priorities are, is use a method of “multitasking” to get things done. But it’s not what you think it is, where I’m trying to do multiple tasks at once. It’s actually trying to execute tasks that fulfill multiple priorities. So, as an example, if I need to clean up the house and take care of the kids at the same time, I will create a game with incentives so that my kids will help me do the cleaning. That way, I am getting help with completing a task, spending time with my kids, and having fun – all things that are important to me. Now, in those times when we have to make decisions that can’t be “multitasked,” it comes down to being able to make decisions about which priority is more important at the time, and being able to release any guilt or shame that may arise because we have to make once choice over another. If we are able to release that guilt, we can spend less time worrying, and potentially get even more done! 

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