Photography by: Carmen Evans
This post has never been requested and to be honest, I was incredibly intimidated to write about it. But, this post is something that has been on my mind the entire time I’ve been a blogger and so I knew it was time to sit down and have a little chit chat.
Typically, I write about things I know work for me. I feel like I’m coming from a place of experience and am comfortable sharing what I do. I definitely have the “experience” part down in this post, but comfortability? I’m not sure if that will ever come.
However, I know if I struggle with something other girls might as well and so why not talk about it?! When I come to a girlfriend with a problem, I find it much more therapeutic when she gets and struggles with the same concept.
I struggle with work/life balance.
There’s so many reasons I don’t want to say why I struggle.
First and foremost? I HAVE MY DREAM JOB. No, seriously. When I found out I had Discoid Lupus as a teenager, I spent so many hours perusing the internet trying to find a beauty guru that knew all the answers. My mom never got mad at me for internet time because she knew what I was doing. When I didn’t find that source, I knew I wanted to go into an industry that could help be that source. I chose PR so I could write about products that would help other people and here I am today. People trust me with 5 minutes of their day to read about products I like or don’t like. It’s a pinch me moment 24/7.
The flip side of that? I don’t ever really want to stop working. I want to keep creating content. I want to collaborate to brands. I want to help people. Each post I write comes from this place inside of me, where a 14-year-old girl doesn’t understand why she can’t find something to help her. It comes from a place so close to my heart, that I can’t ever imagine just saying, “Okay. Time to shut the laptop off. This can wait!”
Another reason? I wasn’t sure if I could actually help people with my suggestions if I did struggle with it as well. But I had to keep remembering back to each time I go to a girlfriend. When she tells me she struggles and shares what she does, sometimes I trust her even more.
I. So, How Do I Struggle?
I think it’s natural for most women to have a hard time saying no, whether that be to work, friends, family or even strangers. It’s even more natural to not have a balance when you’re a small business owner. You’re the creator, the writer, the accountant, the advertiser, the admin, the director of operations. It’s your baby, you trust yourself and you want to take care of everything yourself.
I don’t skip birthday dinners to answer e-mails and I don’t stay up until 3 a.m. every night making blog posts. But my husband did have a few days off of work and what did I do? I sat next to him and worked. Each. Day. He. Had. Off. And while I know that’s normal, I just wish I would have been more present. I wish I would have said no to a few thing and said yes when he wanted to go to lunch instead.
Does he mind? No. Honestly, I wish he would mind more! haha. He is my business partner in every single sense, so he is constantly sharing how proud he is of my work. But I mind.
II. What Do I Do To Work On It?
Because I mind, I’m always working on it. I haven’t mastered it and honestly, who knows if I will!? But I do follow 5 general rules of thumb and asked my readers on Instagram to share their advice! I hope this helps all of us to enjoy creating balance [whatever that is!] in our time.
1.Who Do You Want to Neglect More
I shared here something we were told in premarital counseling [I can’t recommend doing it enough!] that I try to think of every single day.
“You’ll spend your whole life making strangers and acquaintances happy thinking your spouse will understand. You’ll stay later at work doing something that isn’t mandatory, you’ll sign up for something that doesn’t completely matter and you’ll go to every dinner you’re invited to. You’ll do this because your spouse is always there and “will understand.” But you don’t want to look back and think, “I neglected my spouse because they support me the most” at the expense of pleasing others, including yourself.”
I hate the word neglect. I mean, how sad does it make you feel?! But they used that word and so do I, because it is so strong it puts things into perspective. I don’t go to a lot of events in the fashion industry. It’s not because I don’t want to, but it’s because I don’t want to neglect Paul.
I tell myself, “I can neglect this store opening or I can neglect my husband.”
It’s such a harsh statement that it puts things into perspective. Whether you need to know if you should clear out your inbox or go to lunch with a girlfriend, we all make choices daily on what to neglect. Neglecting other options is what allows us to reach that point of being close to balance. So when I feel torn I think, “What do I neglect?”
2.Phone Free Weekends
This is such a rarity, but we try to do it every season and it’s the most refreshing thing we can do! I turn my phone off once he gets home from work on Friday and I don’t turn it on until Sunday evening. Sometimes my social media posts are already scheduled out and sometimes I just don’t worry about scheduling at all. Being a woman, I want to help anyone who calls me. And I want to call all my friends when I need help! But sometimes, it’s best to just be at rest. Being still, focusing on the one person you’re with [your family, husband or roommate] and giving your mind that downtime is so beneficial. We both feel incredibly recharged once Monday comes around and we are much more efficient at helping others both in work and our personal life, once we have been rebooted ourselves.
The first time I had to tell a brand I love no, I about cried. Typically brands come with a deadline, “Hey, we saw you tried our product on Snapchat! Did you like it? We have a campaign running next week, would you like to work with us next Tuesday?” Now I’ve learned to respond with a deadline. I don’t do things generally under two weeks notice. I even have things booked for next year, so doing things under two weeks means that I have to move things around and take that weekend time with my husband to shoot. But I’m not firm with this deadline. When Paul and I agree this would be a perfect fit for readers, sometimes I say yes and then we spend our weekend working. Between shooting, negotiating and writing, it can take up an entire Saturday. However, each time I’m not firm I regret the timeline. I’m learning to just be honest. “Yes, I love your brand! Unfortunately, I just won’t be able to be a part of that campaign, I book this far in advance and sadly, I have to say no because that day is already covered.” I hate doing that because I love what I do, but honesty is freeing. Be honest with friends, be honest with prior commitments, be honest with work.
4.Understanding Jesus Knows Your Heart
How on earth could a non-believer trust Jesus if they can’t trust someone who loves Jesus-AKA, me?! When anyone [believer or not!] asks me to do something, I want to do it. Not because I’m just the most giving little blonde in Texas you’ve ever seen and not because I give Mother Theresa a run for her money. I’m human. I’m selfish. I do it because I love Jesus and I want to share how much he has given me whether that be through time or talents, with others. My friend needs a ride to the airport? Great. Jesus has blessed me with the ability to make a car payment, pay for car insurance, gas and the ability to work from home. I can certainly take them!
But there is the other side to faith, which is the understanding that Jesus went away to rest and be with God. Paul told me to take the morning off since I’d been out of town all weekend and just rest and spend time in the word. Did I do that? No. I failed miserably. I checked my e-mails right when I opened my eyes and headed to my desk. I thought I was helping, but honestly how can I help well if I haven’t been fed well? I need to be fed with his word, his love and his perfect rest.
Beth Moore says when you find two things in the bible that can contradict [rest and giving], which one is right? Both of them are. And the funny thing is we as humans, think we should understand how to follow each perfectly. But we won’t. We aren’t God and we can’t balance perfectly, but we can pour our hearts into him and have peace that he knows us.
When I turn something down or I’m unsure of what to neglect, or I do as I did this morning I have to know Jesus knows my heart. That is not a hall pass to say, “Great! He knows I mean well so let me not do well.” It’s just to say, I’ve got to give myself grace. I’m in the world, not of the world and until I’m separated from the world I won’t balance well. But until then I can let the only one who knows perfect balance guide my actions through having an open heart.
5. Ask For Help with Prioritizing
It may not be modern, but I love the talents God gave me to be a serving wife. I love doing Paul’s laundry. I love cooking for Paul. I love making his life at home less stressful so he can feel like he truly rests here. But because we both work the same amount, he always asks if he can help. And while, “Could I do the laundry?” is such a selfless act, I find I get frustrated with myself. I want to be able to get my work done, finish 4 load of laundry, make a great dinner and host all of our friends over in the same day after I’ve volunteered. But it just doesn’t happen. It’s life!
There are days when I’ll ask for help which is so hard for me! I didn’t even let my parents pay for my college, so you better believe it’s hard for me to ask my mom to run an errand for me. However, sometimes I find that isn’t the solution. My mom or Paul might help me finish something with work, but the to do list is still there. Lately, I’ve found I ask for help with prioritizing.
Last week Paul asked when we could go to dinner on a date and I’m so embarrassed to say how far out we had to book it! We don’t even have kids, why are we so overcommitted?! haha. Because I was so embarrassed at our schedule, I looked at him and said, “Help me prioritize.”
It was late at night. I was emotional. I felt exhausted. But we got ice cream, drove around for two hours and we just talked through things that matter to us. Then I took my planner and scratched out things that didn’t encourage what we loved.
I’ll share an example!
I had to cancel a coffee date. Does that mean I don’t love that person? Absolutely not! I love that person dearly and we all know I love coffee! But that evening we also had dinner planned with my family. I love my parents so much and we truly haven’t had dinner with them in ages because of commitments. I knew if I took that coffee date, I’d not get work done for a deadline and either be cranky at dinner with my parents because of stress or I’d work until 2 a.m. So I had to cancel and reschedule for a later date. Each thing in my planner has to encourage another, not take away from because then it throws off your rhythm and how I end up treating others.
It took my husband helping me see that that coffee date was actually hurting my parents because of a work commitment. I didn’t originally see it that way because, hello! Friends. Coffee. What is wrong about that?! I feel guilty saying, “Hey, I don’t have an hour to grab coffee with you.” Because I can see how silly that looks. But having someone that loves you and can look objectively at your priorities allows you to see that you really don’t have that hour that day because it doesn’t encourage your next priority.
III. How Do My Readers Balance?
Because I am not the “end all, be all” of advice on this topic I wanted to hear from readers about what they do! I asked on Instagram [@kateymcfarlan] and so much of this resonated with me! I thought I’d share how other women in the same boat handle their floating ship!
@basilchic: “I don’t think anyone can do it all, not if you want to do everything well. For me it come down to knowing your priorities and I know if I have to cut something it’s okay because my priorities are being met.”
@wendystaes: “I know we all want balance, but I hope that doesn’t mean giving all things equal weight. Faith and family are what matters.”
@kaitlynproctor14 “The important thing is to always keep my intentions in check and not overwork myself.”
So, if you were over on my couch at Hotel Hellman right now, I’d make you a glass of iced tea and tell you, “Give the people who have your heart your time. Use your talents for Christ, but find rest in him. You deserve to give yourself grace. It’s okay you didn’t make it to that party. Sadly, your laundry will still be here tomorrow. But I get it. I struggle too, daily. And Shania Twain was wrong. The best part about being a women is having a heart that wants to do it all. It means God trusted us to share his love. ;)”