Learning To Juggle – Literally and Metaphorically

Learning to Juggle

So I’ve been brewing this blog piece in my mind for a couple of weeks. Basically I’ve been working part time since late last year and I’m about to start a second job, while still being primarily responsible for keeping children alive. We’re a one car household, and I need the car, so I’m the one who still does school run, activities and appointments during the week. I also still do the majority of the cooking, cleaning, laundry etc etc etc

There is no such thing as a work-life balance.

A “work/life balance” is impossible. Balance is just not how life works. You cannot give equal time, attention and focus to all things in your life at all times.

The analogy I was going to use was that life isn’t like balancing a set of scales. It’s more like a pendulum swinging back and forth between what you give your time to. But both of those imply that that there is only two things that you need to have handled. A balance between “work” and “life”.

But that’s not what life looks like. Life is kids, relationships, friendships, family, alone time, housework, eating well, being active, staying sane, keeping my hair washed and brushed… There are too many things. And work brings with it a whole set of other aspects that need to be handled. Especially when my two jobs will be quite different.

Oh and I’m also trying very hard to manage THIS website! It introduces an entire juggling act all on it’s own!

I Was Literally Juggling

I’ve also been learning to juggle. That is not a metaphor. I mean literally juggling. With actual balls… Because… reasons…

I can juggle with two balls. Even two balls with one hand. But never quite got the hang of juggling three balls. Which is what I’m trying to learn. Again, not a metaphor. I’m not even sure what that would mean if it was.

But while I was watching the balls go around and around in my hands (and hitting the ground more often than not) I did finally get some clarity over how I wanted to phrase this article.

How Is Life Like Juggling

I realised that when I’m juggling I can only ever hold one ball at a time. At any given moment I have two balls in the air, one ball in my hand. But I can’t just stop and hold onto that one ball – or else everything else hits the ground.

And more often than not the balls that I’m most focused on are the ones in the air. Not the one in my hand. They’re the ones I’m worried about.

The other thing is when you let that ball go you have to trust that you’ll be able to catch it again. You can’t juggle stressed. Or you can, but it’s harder and more exhausting. If you relax and go with it then it’s a lot easier to manage.

There are also strategies that make juggling easier. For example; don’t throw it too high or it’ll get away from you. Don’t throw it too low or you won’t have time to catch and throw the other balls.

Then there are only so many balls you can juggle at a time. You are only one person. You only have two hands. And you can only do what you can do. With time, experience, and practice you can learn to juggle more balls, but there are still limits.

Though, you can actually handle juggling more balls between two people.

And finally, you will drop all of the balls from time to time. All of them. You’ll lose control or focus and everything will scatter. It’s just how it is. The only thing that matters is that you pick everything back up, take a deep breath and start again.

What Does This All Mean?

Firstly, it probably means I shouldn’t be adding “learning to juggle” to my giant to do list.

I need to relax, and just do one thing at a time. Instead of constantly fretting about all the things I need to do to the point where I feel like I’m not doing anything well. It’s okay to be present in one task, knowing I will deal with the other things later.

It’s also essential that I set up some strategies to handle my workload. Calendars, reminders, routines – so things don’t get away from me.

I need to be honest with myself when I’ve taken on too much. It’s okay to not be able to do everything. I need to either prioritise or delegate. I don’t have to do everything and I certainly don’t have to do everything on my own.

And most importantly when I am completely overwhelmed to the point I can’t handle anything, and my whole life just falls in a heap on the floor, I need to just pick everything back up, take a deep breathe, and start again.

Also I’m probably not as bad at  juggling as I think I am. I mean – it’s impressive that I can juggle at all.

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Rachel Stewart

Rachel is the founder of Parenting Central Australia. She is raising two children, boy and girl, with her partner.She has a background in early childhood education, but right now is content to be a stay at home mum.She is passionate about birthing rights, breastfeeding and mental health. She enjoys crafting, drinking coffee (sometimes wine) and spending a little too much time on Facebook.

17 Comments

  1. Yep, I have often been the only speaker on a panel at events saying work/life balance is a myth. I view it as balancing on a tightrope, at some point you’ll fall.

    Work out what you want in your life and how to make it blend, but also learn to say no. No is a complete sentence.

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