Finding Balance

This post is weeks in the the making.. the writing of it, you would think, would come easy, but after a conversation that I had over the weekend might prove otherwise.

These last couple weeks have been overly-busy.  The weeks are flooding in, rolling by, and my days are running together with appointments, phone calls, text messages, work, meetings, and then to come home at the end of the day and play momma to my two little precious birds.  Thats just for the weeknights.  Leave it to the weekends to cram every breathing moment with ‘something’ to do.  Costco, Sam’s (yep, we shop at both), date nights, social events, parties, playdates.. we sleep in there somewhere.

I few weeks ago we received an email via Twin Talk  asking about finding balance.  How to ‘fit’ it all in. The email went on with many forms of flattery and requests for advice as to how to do it ‘all’.

Truth be told, I do it very poorly and I surely do not have it all together.  This sort of ‘advice’, if you want to call it that, is hard to give because what works for some is called crazy by others.  So, here I go- and don’t judge me:)
 Quiet Time.
I wrote this entire post and was going to add this piece of my life at the end, but decided it is best placed at the beginning.  
My Quiet Time. What is ‘quiet time‘.. 
as a Christian this is a time we come together with Jesus.  Whatever that looks like.  It is definitely different for everyone.  For me, it is reading my Bible, praying, and journalling.  Since the girls were born, journalling has gotten difficult, but most recently I have come to start journalling again, and I forgot how much I absolutely love it. My morning ‘quiet time’ is 100% among the best moments of my day.  I don’t have a specific ‘study’ that I do, but every morning I read and excerpt from Jesus Calling (here) and then look up the accompanying verses in my study Bible.  I’ve read Jesus Calling nearly 3 times (it is a daily devotional), and every time I come to a new day, I get something else out of it that I maybe didn’t catch before.  His teachings work in such pristine ways, and it is funny how He can always bring it full circle just at the perfect time.  I wake up around 5am, make a cup of coffee, and sit in the kitchen nook to read, journal, and hit my knees with thanksgiving or requests.  
Parker and Jolie are still asleep- Jordan has either left for work, or is sound asleep himself.  My time.  Me time to drink my coffee, eat my breakfast, and make time for the Man that blessed me with this life.  It is EARLY, and most days I dread my alarm, but being awake, alone with my Lord before everyone else, lets me charge for the day.  A better attitude, mindset, and patience is developed when I do this.   
My calendar.
I am organized.  Organization rules my life.  My OCD tendencies have a place in this organization and chaos I simply call my life, and it doesn’t always have to be a negative description.
My calendar.  Holds many appointments.  Appointments right down to the 7:30pm dinner time. Thats right- I input what we are having for dinner in my calendar every week during my meal planning so that I can always be prepared for the next day for my family.   
I work best from my iPhone calendar and have my personal calendar, my work calendar, and also a ‘Home Calendar’.   The ‘home calendar’ is something that Jordan and I share via the iPhone for appointments that we both should attend or know about.  Exam appointments, work trips, social outings, photoshoots, date nights.. you get the idea.  When Jordan is planning something he can always look into that ‘home calendar’ to see what we have going and if there is a possible conflict.  We also have a ‘Twin’s Calendar’ that we share with Jordan’s mom (our primary caretaker of Parker and Jolie when we are both working. This keeps us all on track for when we do and don’t need help from BB in watching the girls.  Takes the Sunday night panic planning off the table.
While it might seem like overkill, this calendar method of organization has been super helpful to keep all of us on the same page of life, so there isn’t anything popping up with the ever the expected “I told you last week..”   
Jordan (nor myself) don’t often get that excuse. 
I have used the paper calendar and before the days with my iPhone I was obsessed with writing in it.. I’ve been loving the Erin Condren 2015 calendars, but haven’t made the splurge to get one.  I can totally justify it for other things aside from the regular ‘calendar planning’.. you know? 
Cleaning/House Duties.
Fortunately I have help with this in more ways than one.  
Jordan is EXTREMELY helpful around the house, and if it weren’t for him, this entire life of ours would crumble to the ground.  Over the years we have developed a routing to compliment each other very well when it comes to sharing the home duties.
I cook, he cleans the ‘after-dinner’ dishes, and I wipe down the counters.  (We’ve been doing it this way for our entire 9 years of marriage) 
He does the laundry, I fold it.
(he also leaves his terribly folded laundry sitting in a pile for a week before putting it away.)
I am usually the last to get out of bed in the morning.. but he always makes it.  Occasionally out of frustration:)  He hates for his sheets to be twisted and making the bed every morning is the equivalent of freshness to him.. I couldn’t care less as long as my feet are covered while I sleep.
He does all of the yard work.  You should see the sweat beads and hear him sing praise to Jesus via Jeremy Camp when he’s using his beloved push mower to cut our near 1 acre of a yard.  
I bring him refreshments:)
Regular maintenance of the household duties is assisted by our housekeepers that come every other week.  When I went on bed rest while pregnant, Jordan was working all the time, and I was unable to clean per doctor’s orders (awwww, shucks). We made the financial decision to hire someone to help.  After the girls came we couldn’t even think of making time for wiping the windows or cleaning the toilets (major kudos to you ladies and your hubby that DO), and so they have stuck around for nearly 2 years.  
Jordan and I both agree that we would hand over our cell phone if it meant we had to cut something out in order to manage these ladies (there are two that come every other Tuesday) into our budget.  My ceiling fans have never been so tidy.
I love to cook.  When we got married I was approaching my final years of school to be a dietitian, and while the science behind food, wellness, and healthy living was all fine and dandy, it was the real power of what you actually put in your body that caught and held my attention for choosing a career path.  I have worked many different roles in my job life: hospitalist, marketing, ICU (intensive care unit), and I even spent 3 years as a personal chef.  This is where it all hit home.  So, cooking is engrained into my mindset of life.  We incorporate and expect that this should be done in our house, but I know it isn’t for everyone.  And not always for me..
I eat cereal for dinner when Jordan is at the fire station. 
Meal planning is VERY helpful (which I first talked about HERE, and share more often what WE EAT here) and is the greatest piece of advice I can offer when it comes to figuring out how to fit it all in, and make a relatively healthy meal for your family.  Breakfast and lunch are typically very similar on a day-to-day basis, so, I leave those out of the calendar plan – but dinner varies and we often eat something different on a monthly cycle.  
Breakfast  for me personally often looks like fruit, Greek yogurt & granola OR peanut butter toast/English muffin.
Lunch:  protein smoothie, leftovers from the night before, OR a sandwich of some kind.  I could eat sandwiches every.single.meal. 
Since I have my dinner meals planned ahead of time, I often am able to prep what I need to in the days leading.  I make sauces, marinades and casseroles up to 2 days in advance.  Sometimes that looks like cooking up a couple things on a Sunday night, or prepping on an evening when Jordan is at the fire station after the girls are down.  Occasionally, I will prep dinner the moment I walk in the door.  This is typically around the time the girls are having their snack, so I sometimes have about 20 minutes to make use of that time.  Last night I made Caprese Turkey Burgers – prepped the patties, wrapped them in plastic wrap, and popped them in the fridge until it was time to grill them up for dinner.  It makes my evening go much smoother when I do it this way.
Last week, I popped a meatloaf in the oven (made ahead the night before) and had about 45 minutes of ‘nothing’ to do.  The girls’ most favorite thing to do right now is feed the dogs.  They are overly excited and totally accomplished after we allow them to dump that dry food in Daphnee and Ginny’s  food bowls.  BIGGEST helpers on the planet these days, and this ‘task’ is just among the long list of things they help with on a daily basis.

Working Mom.
This one is tough for me.  During the first months of life with Parker and Jolie I was desperate to be at home with them.  Major milestones, like making the first moves to crawl and rolling over, were witnessed by video while I sat at my desk at work. Truth be told, I hated my job at the beginning of last year.  I was in a different role, in a different company, and while still practicing dietetics, it wasn’t making me happy at all anymore.  I needed a change – and I was convinced that the change was going to come in the form of being a stay at home mom.  God had other plans.  He always does.  
So funny how that works..
After THREE failed interviews (to which I have always ‘won’ a position I have applied for..) I got a call.  A call from a contact that I had met over two years previously to come in for an interview.  
God is so good.  
My current job is absolutely amazing.  I am extremely blessed to work for a company that loves, respects, and appreciates my role – and most importantly understands my growing family life at home.  I work 9am-3pm | Monday-Thursday an then I get to come home and switch hats to ‘momma’. While I would LOVE to say that work ends at 3pm, I am BUSY, and I am the only one that does my job.. so some days I am still answering emails by phone once I get home because I understand that 90% of the work population’s day doesn’t end at 3pm like mine does. 
This has been a balance I’ve had to learn as I go.  I struggle.  Some days I’m TERRIBLE at managing it.  I come home stressed out, tired, and unmotivated to do anything but unplug.  And then I realize what I am actually unplugging from.  

#selfie (with a bit of yogurt I missed from snack time..)

Social Media/Blogging.
Yet another struggle for me.
As far as blogging goes, I’ve got a notebook that I carry around with my everywhere I go.  I jot down post ideas, thoughts I want to share.. you get the idea.  I have found that really helpful when trying to bring a post into words.  I can spend anywhere from 1-2 hours writing, and I used to try to do this at night – which is often my time to spend with Jordan.  A few months ago I started getting up early and blogging after I did my quiet time, and before my day as mom and employee got started.  
Game-changer, ya’ll.  
Social Media.  The BEAST.  While I don’t have Facebook, Instagram and I have a love/hate relationship.  I find it hard to ‘unplug’ from this piece of my world.  Work is busy, and when I get home I am so excited to share with every one a little bit of my life in the afternoon.  The reality is I can find myself missing a fun moment with my girls because I am only concerned about snapping the perfect picture to share on Instagram/Twitter or the blog.  Jordan gets frustrated with me because I insist on the attempt to retake a picture about a bazillion times of uninterested toddlers.  
Sorry, Jordan. 
It is a constant battle for me to find the balance with this and maintaining my time with Parker and Jolie.  I’m afraid I don’t have the answer to this ‘secret’, but I had an amazing friend and fellow twin mom share this with me last week:  
Be present.
The realization and self reflection I had after she said those two words with me made me realize how much I could potentially be missing.
That same evening last week I mentioned earlier, after feeding the dogs, we played outside.   Enjoyed the evening.  I was PRESENT with my little girls.  No Instagram, no computer, no text messages.  
Just being mom.  We spent just about 25 minutes outside, but in that 25 minutes I felt sort of liberated from my pull to social media.   My tendency would be to pull out my camera, snap ‘the perfect’ picture(s), and then immediately come inside to load them to the computer.  Not this night.  I wasn’t going to do it.  

Look at that face?

How could I have potentially missed this.  This interaction with their daddy?

It brought tears to my eyes (and as I write) to realize that I am often worried about so many other things than being present. I have to forget about the anxiety of not answering that text message, replying to that email, and posting the perfect picture.

My time with these girls (at this age) is very limited.  The moments are flying, and I can potentially miss it.  I’m not saying NEVER get on Instagram/Facebook/Twitter, or answer emails, or that you are a terrible person for replying to a text while sitting with your family, but personally I just have to make it a point to be unplugged from time to time, or I’ll miss something.

..and I don’t want to miss a thing.


July 22, 2014

  1. I thought I was the only one who didn't have facebook. lol Nice to know I'm not. I have a love/hate relationship with it too.

  2. Michelle says:

    This was the perfect post at just the right time for me. Life lately has been a stuggle of figuring out how to balance it all between being pregnant w/ my second, running around after a 22 month old, full-time job but yet still finding a little "me" time in there. Thanks for putting perspective on it all! 🙂

  3. Kathy Klauer says:

    Amber – what do you use for your calendars? Do you use iPhone calendars, google calendars, etc? I have three different calendars, but I don't feel like they are the most efficient way to keep track of all our events/meetings/appts. If you have a favorite one, I"d love to hear it!

  4. smash says:

    Your calendars — what kind do you use? Are these just Google calendars or do you have a fun paper one? I ask because I just got an Erin Condren planner and 🙂

  5. crash. says:

    Facebook is the literal worst. Best thing I ever did was delete that sucker. I haven't had it for roughly 3 years now and I have no plans of going back. I appreciate this post on finding balance. I have a hard time and I only have one child, I cant imagine 2. I really need to start using calendars.

  6. Jen B says:

    I completely agree about finding balance. A few months ago I started leaving my phone upstairs in the evenings until my twin girls are in bed because I realized I was always checking something or snapping their picture a hundred times. It's been so much better since then! Still trying to find a balance to do the things I enjoy while being a mom though, it's a work in progress I guess!

  7. GREAT post! Thanks for taking the time to write all this down. I like your idea of a notebook. I use my phone that way at the moment, which I prefer to be 'paperless', and while it's great to note down things in the calendar, blog post ideas, etc., it also means it's easy to pick up to go on facebook, check email or start text conversations with friends, instead of engaging with my twins. While I know it's good to sit back and just watch sometimes, unfortunately, even when I'm tired, that makes me antsy and I always have to be doing something else at the same time (like checking my phone). thanks again!

  8. Ashley Weeks says:

    Great post! I have a 3 year old little girl and twin 9 month old girls and I work full time. People are always asking me "how I do it" but, you just do what you have to do. My girls (& my husband) are my entire world. I enjoy "doing what I have to do". 🙂

  9. Katie says:

    loved this amber. a struggle for me too, especially with social media. i wonder why i spend so much time taking a million pictures or looking at everyone elses. I am not giving it up but would like to spend less time on there!