"A 'No' uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a 'Yes' uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble." Gandhi

 

My friend, a high-powered partner in local law firm, was looking particularly harried one Saturday morning.

I asked, "Are you ok?"

 

She looked down at the floor for a moment, hesitating as she contemplated her words. "At about 2:00 a.m. this morning, as I scanned the piles of legal documents covering my kitchen table I thought about how stressful my work life has become. I literally questioned my own sanity."

 

She continued, "So I am working this hard to ensure that my daughters can go to great schools, have amazing experiences and ultimately attend fantastic colleges, so they can have careers like mine and work this hard?"

 

It just did not jive with logical thinking, and in that moment she realized that she needed to make a change.

 

I happen to know that my very humble friend is considered a legal powerhouse, ready and able to take on just about any challenge presented to her and perhaps that is part of the problem. She really can do it all and never utters the word 'no' to her work. She possesses the right mix of intelligence and steely determination to achieve professionally, but she questions whether it will bring her satisfaction and is currently appraising its life cost as she adds up the experiences and opportunities she will miss as a result.

 

As her personal story reveals, she is willing to work until the early hours of the morning so she can be present with her family from dinner through bedtime stories and good night kisses. She is clearly paying a price and that sacrifice is openly stealing her well being.

 

Clearly, there is a time to say 'no', a critical point that leads to something new for everyone in the family. Finding that balance is a challenge for families and it seems to shift depending on the season, activities and travel schedules. Some families are just struggling to get by and that adds its own worries and stress.

 

When you feel yourself struggling to make your busy life work and canít remember the last time your family had peaceful time together or a manageable schedule, then it is time to stop and evaluate what is most important. Try these tips to reassess and rebalance your family life.

 

If the gut says 'no', do not be swayed by others' enthusiasm, determination and expectations, listen to your very wise body and act accordingly.

 

Act intuitively with your schedule. Donít let others dictate your schedule and learn to say 'no' firmly so there is no room for wiggle.

 

Take time for yourself, no matter how foreign that might sound to you right now.

 

Go to the spa, learn Tai Chi or learn to fly a plane. Taking time for yourself makes you happier and a happy parent raises happy children.

 

Raising kids takes a village so become part of one.

 

Community, family and friends are a critical component to living a balanced, happy life. Extended family adds richness to your childrenís lives and sets up a lifeline of role models for them.

 

At 68, my childrenís grandfather is an ExTerra Olympic Triathlon World Champion. How cool is that? He can actually out run them and is a regular driver to karate, baseball and soccer. He has become an integral and important part of their lives and his impact has been profound.

 

Building a village requires that we lean on others to help raise our children. Kids benefit from time with family and it nurtures the relationship over time.

 

Take a sober appraisal of your current schedule before you commit to a new activity.

 

Even the best of us can over commit and under deliver under pressure. So make sure you can take on a new activity by sitting down with everyone involved and determine its impact. Will there be business travel, family events or a deluge of in-school activities? Perhaps it is not a good time to completely load up on activities. If you must add something to the schedule, enlist family or help well before the crazy season starts so you are prepared for the worst possible scenarios.

 

Donít be a martyr. Do something to solve the problem.

 

It doesnít help anyone for you to wallow in your misery so buck up and solve the problem. If you have made a commitment and need to follow through, get some support. Learn from your mistakes and be wary of adding to your schedule next time.

 

Visualize your version of balance and then decide if you still want to add one more activity on for the Spring.

 

If your version of happiness and balance is a life filled to the brim with work and jammed with activities have at it, but choose it consciously.

 

Visualize the perfect rhythm of your family life and create a schedule that matches it. For me, it means daily workouts for the parents, karate and soccer for kids with time carved out for leisurely dinners outside, watching the sun set, followed by a calm bedtime routine.

 

It is in a self-prescribed steady state that your family will flourish. Find its spiritual center and enjoy the happy moments you will all remember forever.


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