Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Carnival of Natural Parenting Guest Post: Balancing the Teeter-Totter

Welcome to the October Carnival of Natural Parenting: Staying Centered, Finding Balance
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared how they stay centered and find balance. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants. Connected Mom is pleased to host this guest piece from Becky!

How does a young mother of a 1-year old find balance? Good question. As a new stay-at-home mom, it’s easy for me to get caught up in the perfection of the ’50’s housewife: vacuuming wearing pearls, having dinner on the table exactly at 5:00, and all the children behaving superbly when father comes home, to boot. While reading The Feminine Mystique, I found author Betty Frieden painting another picture. The first chapter of the book “The Problem That Has No Name” examines the link between a growing number of women’s general unhappiness or uneasiness about their life, many of whom left college early to marry and start a family, with the role of being a housewife. That ideal image of complete dedication for home and family is admirable, but isn’t a good example of being balanced. Instead it's like trying to ride a teeter-totter alone - not very much fun and ultimately frustrating.
For most of my first year of motherhood, frankly I’ve been lazy. It is much easier to watch TV and surf the Internet all day, but in doing so my teeter-tooter is glued to the ground. No one can deny that it’s a much better feeling at the end of the day when something has been accomplished. So, the question remains, how can I find balance without becoming either a permanent couch potato or a Stepford wife?
One reason that I’ve been so lazy and have lost my way (What are my passions? What do I want to do when I grow up?) is forgetting what used to give me joy: reading, traveling, playing the piano, going to classical and jazz concerts, or just simply talking to people. But what have I been doing right? And what do I want to improve?
I have a starting plan that worked for me in the past and maybe it will benefit me again. During one summer in high school, I wrote down daily what I did in these categories: Mental, Physical, Spiritual, Social, and Fun (going back to the keyword passions). For me, fulfilling something from each of these categories helped me to feel well-balanced. Skipping ahead ten years later to today, what am I doing to fulfill each one?
Mental: I miss my college days, the structure of going to classes, listening to lectures and reading textbooks, so I need to find my own way to learn. I have come across a few enlightening blogs that have expanded my horizons and vocabulary. I have been able to write a couple book reviews for an online German bookstore, and hopefully there will be more opportunities in the future.
Physical: I have been consistently working out with videos and DVDs two to three times a week. I want to add family walks and some weight lifting.
Spiritual: I write in my journal regularly. I have figured out my personal beliefs and feel content with them. My inner-struggle with organized religion keeps me away from church, but maybe I’ll go back sooner than later.
Social: I go out monthly with a friend. We do anything from seeing a play, to attending local concerts, to walking through a corn maze. I want to try Yoga with a group of neighbors and take my daughter to the library’s story time program.
Fun: I have a cooking/baking blog where I post pictures of what I make and recipes. What would be really fun? Traveling again. Sometimes I forget about all the fun local places to see. I want to research and find things to do just around the corner. Hooray for family outings!
When “that” side of the teeter-totter is leaning too much one way, reminding myself of what I enjoy and what wakes up my senses will hopefully tilt the teeter-totter closer to the center.

About the author: Becky loves being a mom and has a passion for German culture and language. She likes to keep in contact with friends and family and makes her home in Utah with her husband and daughter. You can visit her cooking blog at http://goodfood.bluemel.us/.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated October 12 with all the carnival links.)

  • Balance — Sheila at A Gift Universe has put her baby first — and has no regrets. (@agiftuniverse)

  • A Moment for Mama — Starr at Earth Mama has learned how to recharge on the run, so she doesn't miss a moment with her children.

  • Take a 30-Minute or 5-Minute Me-Break — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now discusses the merits of taking small daily breaks to maintain balance. (@DebChitwood)

  • Achieving Balance — In a guest post at the new Natural Parents Network, Heather explains how yoga has helped her find balance in her personal and family life. (@NatParNet)

  • A Stitch in (Quiet) Time Saves Momma’s Mind — Joni Rae at Tales of a Kitchen Witch Momma didn't realize she needed "me" time — until she got it and had no idea what to do with herself. (@kitchenwitch)

  • Attachment Parenting and Balance — Michelle at The Parent Vortex believes that the last item on the "attachment parenting" list is both the most important and the most overlooked. (@TheParentVortex)

  • Little Breaks Bring a Little Balance — Jen at Grow with Graces finds balance - some days! (@growwithgraces)

  • Finding Balance — Are you a Type A mama? Dionna at Code Name: Mama is, and she needs your help to find balance. (@CodeNameMama)

  • (high)Centered — Stefanie at Very, Very Fine has had a spa gift certificate sitting on her nightstand since last year, a symbol of her inability to take time for herself.

  • Taking Time for Me — Marita at Stuff With Thing takes refuge in the world of books, with her daughters immersed in reading beside her. (@leechbabe)

  • Writing as a parent: October Carnival of Natural Parenting — Lauren at Hobo Mama didn't let parenting put her passions on hold. (@Hobo_Mama)

  • The Dance of Balance — Balance isn't static. It is dynamic, it is a dance, it is about keeping in touch with you. Read this wonderful bit of wisdom from Seonaid at the Practical Dilettante. (@seonaid_lee)

  • Rest Hour - a Primer — Do you get 15 minutes to yourself each day? How about an hour?! Mrs. H. at Fleeting Moments shares her tips on how to incorporate a "rest hour" for adults and kids.

  • Separation Is Critical — Only through enforced separation with the end of her marriage did Jessica at This is Worthwhile realize she should have taken time apart all along. (@tisworthwhile)

  • Bread, Roses, and a Side of Guilt. — Betsy at Honest 2 Betsy isn't ashamed to admit that she enjoys a pint once in awhile, or that her daughter recreates it during pretend play.

  • The World from Within My Arms — Rachael at The Variegated Life finds balance despite her work and her husband's commitment to art through attachment parenting. (@RachaelNevins)

  • Balancing the Teeter-Totter — Rebecca is rediscovering balance by exploring her interests and passions in several different categories. She shares in this guest post at The Connected Mom. (@theconnectedmom)

  • Balancing this Life — Danielle at born.in.japan is slowly learning the little tricks that make her family life more balanced. (@borninjp)

  • Uninterrupted Parenting — Amy at Innate Wholeness has learned that she does not need to interrupt parenting in order to find balance.

  • Knitting for My Family — Knitting is more than just a hobby for Kellie at Our Mindful Life, it is her creative and mental outlet, it has blessed her with friendships she might not otherwise have had, and it provides her with much-needed balance.

  • Taking the Time — Sybil at Musings of a Milk Maker has all the time she needs, now her girls are just a bit older.

  • Please, Teach Me How — Amy at Anktangle needs your help: please share how you find time for yourself, because she is struggling. (@anktangle)

  • A Pendulum Swings Both Ways — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment found herself snapping with too little time for herself, and then veered toward too much.

  • Finding Balance Amidst Change — It took a season of big changes and added responsibility, but Melodie of Breastfeeding Moms Unite! now feels more balanced and organized as a mama than ever before. (@bfmom)

  • At Home with Three Young Children: The Search for Balance, Staying Sane — With three young kids, Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings knows parents sometimes have to adjust their expectations of how much downtime they can reasonably have. (@sunfrog)

  • Attachment Parenting? And finding some "Me Time" — As a mother who works full time, Momma Jorje wants "me" time that includes her daughter.

  • A Balancing Act — Sheryl at Little Snowflakes has concrete ways to help keep centered with a little one and a new baby on the way, from exercise to early bedtimes to asking for help. (@sheryljesin)

  • Aspiring Towards Libra — Are your soul-filling activities the first to be pushed aside when life gets hectic? Kelly of KellyNaturally.com aspires to make time for those "non-necessities" this year. (@kellynaturally)

  • SARKisms for Sanity — Erica at ChildOrganics has found renewed inspiration to take baths and laugh often from a book she had on the shelf. (@childorganics)

    Dionna @ Code Name: Mama said... [Reply to comment]

    What a creative way to think about different ways you can find fulfillment! And by looking at the various areas of your life, you're also forcing yourself to come up with several activities that you can use to help stay centered. I might have to try this exercise - thank you for sharing!

    Seonaid said... [Reply to comment]

    I love your teeter totter metaphor. I'm sort of seeing you standing on the middle of it, though...

    Along the lines of your categories (because it is the way I work through things also): A few months ago, I started writing down my favored activities on post it notes and sticking them on the wall... I also wrote on each one WHY I valued it, and discovered that some of them were really about how I thought other people would think about me. (I like to think of myself as frugal, kind, thoughtful... whatever... and so I do these things to project that.) It made me stand back and look at those things more carefully, and to contemplate. I have no answers, but it might help with the teeter totter?

    Lauren @ Hobo Mama said... [Reply to comment]

    Very cool! I like your categories and your idea of making sure you're drawing from each. I love your metaphor of riding a teeter-totter alone, too — such a clear image. I think sometimes, such as when becoming a parent, we do need that time to move inward and not feel pressured to do much else — but at some point, I felt limited by that and did need to reach out and grow again.

    I'd love to hear more about your adventures with German. I'm trying to raise my son bilingual in German as a non-native speaker.

    Amy said... [Reply to comment]

    I really like the categories idea. Writing things down always helps me, too, since I'm apt to not give myself credit for all the things I actually DID do. Great post!

    Jen @ Grow with Graces said... [Reply to comment]

    great idea to write things down by category. I did that when making and tracking New Year's resolutions a couple years back. But it wasn't a daily thing, more like monthly.

    Heather Paladini said... [Reply to comment]

    I really love the way you outlined the different areas of becoming more fulfilled and balanced - breaking it down into categories makes it much easier to digest, without feeling overwhelmed. I am going to try this activity myself, but perhaps on a weekly and not daily level, to see what I am doing for myself in each of these areas. Thanks for the great ideas! And good luck in your endeavors. :)

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