business, blogging & balance

Marian ParsonsBalance, Running a Business43 Comments

In a recent comment, Cami made a request. “I for one, would love to hear you talk about balancing a blogging career with kids and family.  I’m just getting mine rolling and I feel so overwhelmed at times.  You’ve been going at this longer and I would love to hear your ups and downs and ways to manage it all.  Balance.  The great juggling act of life! 😉  Thanks for all your words!”

Oh, Cami.  You’re asking the blind to lead the blind.  Everyone who knows me even a little bit, knows that I struggle with balance.

I struggle.

I can manage okay when our routine is in motion, but when it’s off, because of a snow day, vacation, sickness, whatever, all of the balls I’ve managed to keep airborne, awkwardly at times, come falling down.  And it’s not the funny, slapstick routine where the balls fall down and the clown spastically tries to catch them, fails and shrugs and everyone laughs.

It’s the kind of ball dropping where one pops me in the nose,  another in the eye and I somehow manage to step on one that already hit the ground and it upends me and everyone gasps, because this is clearly not planned.

I forget a doctor’s appointment.  I’m the parent who doesn’t bring the school supplies to the open house.  I have five e-mails from customers who didn’t receive something I was suppose to ship out last week.  I e-mail my editor and ask for an extension.  Jeff just asks me what we’re having for dinner and I get defensive.  I tell my boys to get dressed and they tell me they don’t have any clean shorts or socks.  I haven’t worked out in weeks and my eating is slipping and the pounds are creeping back.

And I feel like I’m not doing anything well.

This isn’t all the time.  It’s just those times when I say yes to too many things or when I get too obsessive about one aspect of life or when I have to wear too many hats simultaneously.  Most of the time, it’s a self-induced imbalance.  Most of the time, it’s poor planing on my part.  And most of the time, it’s me being way too hard on myself.

But, if you’re like me, you’re nodding.  You get it.  We’re like two peas in a pod in our imbalanced lives.

And we work on being disciplined again and fill out the calendar again (and actually look at it) and make lists again (in a new notebook, because lists are for real when they’re in a new notebook) and start to settle back into the routine that helps us manage everything in our lives.

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And I go through this cycle a lot.  I’ll get my act together.  I’m focused and work is going well and dinner is on the table and I did a P90x workout and played kickball with the boys and my blog is done and awesome and my e-mail inbox is managed and the house is clean and Jeff and I had time to chill on the couch and watch a movie and I’m in bed a reasonable time and all is well.  And I wish I had the formula for life to run smoothly like this everyday.

But I don’t.

I told you, Cami.  The blind leading the blind.

Before you abandon this post altogether, there are a few key things that I go to when my life is getting out of whack…

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Keep perspective.  

First of all, people like you and me, we need to relax a bit.  I’m actually pretty laid back when it comes to a lot of things, but I can be high strung when it comes to the demands I put on myself.  It really is okay if the house isn’t as clean as I would like it to be or if I push back a self-imposed project deadline or if I don’t get around to doing something that is important, but not really that important.

I will work myself into such a ball of stress that I physically hurt.  I get a lump in my throat and have a headache that makes me feel like eating sugar to get a lift.  I wouldn’t get to that state if everything was properly in perspective.

Me & my boys…

A photo posted by Marian aka Miss Mustard Seed (@missmustardseed) on

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Set limits 

This is so huge for me.  I always feel like I need to do more, to be more, all the time.  This is why I often feel like I’m falling short.  This is what leads to a daily marathon, working towards doneness.  I like completion and life just can’t be completed in one day.  So, I need to set limits to make me stop before I crash.  I need to set a bedtime.  To make certain foods off limits.  To plan how much and when I can be on my computer.  The key is sticking to those limits.

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Take care of yourself.

For me, this means making time for a daily devotion, exercising, getting a haircut, eating well, getting out of the paint clothes once in a while, maybe even splurging on a massage.  It also means doing things that I enjoy that have nothing to do with work.  This is trickier for me than you would think, because I really love what I do and my #1 hobby is working on my house, so when my hobby and my business are so intertwined, it’s hard to pick them apart.  There are a few things I like to do, like hiking, that are a departure, so I need to do that more.

#hiking A photo posted by Marian aka Miss Mustard Seed (@missmustardseed) on

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Make a priority list, not a to-do list.

I’ve had the “to-do list conversation” with both Jeff and Kriste lately.  I tend to shy away from to-do lists for the reason that I push really hard towards completion.  I want the to-do list to be empty by the end of the day and that’s just not possible.  But, without a to-do list, I’m aimless.  I start working on something I feel like doing, but doesn’t need to be done at all, while something else more pressing is left undone.  Which leads to stress!

Jeff suggested making a “priority list” not a to-do list.  It actually wasn’t his idea, but one he got from the book, Simple Life.  I haven’t read it, so I don’t know if it’s a good read, but I love that suggestion.  Once I made a priority list, everything seemed much more doable.  I may not get everything done, but I get the most important things done.  Focusing on the priorities makes me feel organized and focused, but not pressured.

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(This is Jeff, by the way, if you didn’t notice the name tag.  This seemed like a good post to show him in a picture where he isn’t building something for me.)

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So, Cami, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’re not alone.  “Overwhelmed” is often the word-of-the-day for me.

BUT, it’s not always in a negative way.

Sometimes, yes, I’m overwhelmed at the amount of work I need to do, at all of the e-mails sitting in my box, the laundry that needs to be folded, the articles I need to write, and the amount of people who need or want something from me.

That sense of too much that is draining.

But I’m also overwhelmed by the blessings in my life, God’s provision, my supportive family, the amazing things I get to do for my job, and readers and customers who read my blog and love my brand.

That same sense of too much, but it gives energy and strength.

And it’s enough to pick me up, dust me off and carry me into tomorrow with focus and determination, ready to try to walk that tightrope of life again, hoping to be a bit more graceful with each step….

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43 Comments on “business, blogging & balance”

  1. Oh my goodness! We are one in the same! I run a business from home and I get so caught up in my very necessary deadlines that by the end of the day, dinner is not made, the laundry is piled up, and well you know. One thing that has worked for me is I set my timer on my cell phone. I work for an hour and then take 15 minutes to do laundry, work for an hour, take 15 to do the dishes, and so on. It helps me stay on track with all of the balls I juggle.

    1. Yes, I am big on timers to. I have to set alarms or I will get lost in what I am doing and will totally lose track of time. 🙂

  2. Oh Marian, I agree with 100% of this. Yes to all of the above especially about when things get off-kilter and the ball gets dropped in different areas… I think I struggle the most with setting limits right now. I’ve always had this inner struggle to follow rules or limits, even self-imposed ones because if I have broken those limits and done something amazing I think, oh I’m the exception to the rule! But then I reap the negative consequences… Sometimes delayed… And then I’m sorry. And then I’m back to those limits again. The struggle is so real. I chuckled when you said you get defensive about dinner when things are off balance- because that is SO me! Haha

  3. Morning girlies, I too can totally conect to all the post & comments. I just set myself up for far too much to accomplish every sing,e day which leaves me mostly feeling like I have failed by end of day. But what does work for me , as with same as you 2 boys, ( age 20 & 21 ) and a husband whom all are like eating machines & every 2 hours it seems they NEED to know when next meal is!! Is I get up at 5 am every day, read for an hour, shower ( which sometimes feels like a luxury) do gym, then I prepare evening meal & do housework till 9 am. I feel a lot more focused when I know the meal is sorted & the basics of clean bathroom towels & clean clothes are sorted and I can then religiously start work at 9, like a proper job ha ha xx

  4. I enjoyed reading this post as balance is something I struggle with and it often eludes me. I loved your story of juggling balls, as I often use this analogy as well. In fact, I read a book by Nicholas Sparks many years ago called Suzanne’s Diary For Nicholas that used this same analogy. I had read the book at an especially busy and crazy time in my life, and completely related to the analogy that the main character summarized in a diary she was writing to her son…
    “Imagine life is a game in which you are juggling five balls. The balls are called work, family, health, friends and integrity. And you’re keeping all of them in the air. But one day you finally come to understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. The other four balls -family, health, friends, integrity- are made of glass. If you drop one of these it will be irrevocably scuffed, nicked, perhaps even shattered. And once you truly understand the lesson of the five balls, you will have the beginnings of balance in your life.”
    That quote and the story touched me so much that I actually reread the book and wrote about it and that quote on my blog last year, at a time when I was being especially reflective about life and priorities and blessings. Balance is something that many of us struggle with maintaining, and while you may also deal with this struggle Marian, you remain an inspiration to many. Your love for your boys and your husband is evident, and the success of your business and blog is the reward for how much time you dedicate to your work. I appreciate your honesty and openness about the fact that it is not always easy for you to maintain balance and successfully juggle all of the balls of life, and I love the strategies you offered. Thank you for this post, and if you can squeeze a little reading time into your crazy schedule I really do recommend reading Suzanne’s Diary For Nicholas. It was written a while ago, but I think it’s worth the time, as it is a reminder to busy mom’s to remember that life is precious and short. Thank you for your perspective and inspiration on the subject of balance and juggling the balls of life.

  5. Totally amazing a) how similar our lives are and b) how similar all the other ‘commenters’ lives are!

    We put restrictions on ourselves, time limits and goals, and then we get mad/upset/low when we don’t meet them. But why do we have to meet them? why have we put these aims on ourselves in the first place?

    I love to have an aim, to have a focus, a project. My husband frequently tells me that I love having a million things going on at once, to which I reply No i dont. Before secretly tallying all the things I’m focusing on and thinking he’s right . . .again!

    How can we get out of this loop? I often think, from now on I’m just going to live. No aims, restrictions, goals. But they creep in without me even knowing. 2014 as a year is a classic example: I was planning my wedding, seeing a personal trainer with a goal to git fit and healthy, I had started my new job, with a promotion the month after the wedding, I signed up for a yoga foundation course . . . It was too much. Just planning a wedding on top of normal life is too much, without the pressure of everything else. I was so exhausted and stressed.

    We must learn from our experiences. But thats easier said then done. We’ll keep trying to relax though 🙂

    so glad I found this blog. Thank you
    http://www.homemadebyhail.blogspot.co.uk

  6. What a good idea a priority list, instead of a to do list. If i don’t use a list there will be nothing done in my house at te end of the day. I think that i have a lot done for my blog but most of the times it is’nt.
    Sorry if my English is not so good, i’am from the Netherlands. I have got English at school but it was not so good at it ;-).

  7. What a fabulous post Marian. I love the idea of a priority list, thank you. I struggle daily with overwhelm as well, but am learning to take time for me as well and I too am grateful for the life I get to lead, we all just need to remember to set limits. I’m making yoga and healthy eating my priority this month, maybe the rest will fall into place with a healthy mind and body? Thank you for the great post!
    Hugs,
    Wendy @ Front Porch Mercantile

  8. Oh my gosh this post will open the flood gates!
    ……Marian you have hidden this part of you that you struggle with balance from me all the years I have been reading your blog. You seem to handle and accomplish more than humanly possible in your business all the time raising a family and keeping your marriage strong. Your analogy of the clown with the balls made me smile and I feel like I can relate better to your posts knowing that life isn’t a perfect balance for you even though the pictures in your blog of your house and business always look fresh and newly painted and polished perfectly! I am reading this as my husband pulls out of the driveway for work and I am starting a new phase of my life. For the first time in 28 years we are empty-nesters…..our youngest son starts his first day of college classes five hours away and in the past year we have seen our other two boys marry and move across the United States to Oregon and Wisconsin with their brides. Your post was perfect timing for me as I set goals and priorities for myself and enjoy a new life balance ! Thanks for your ever present honesty and inspiration ! xox

  9. Thank you so much for addressing my question to you! It truly touched my heart in so many ways. Us women are so hard on ourselves, aren’t we. As weird as this sounds, I am relieved to hear you struggle as well! That we are all human and imperfect beings and working on finding balance in this life together. I must agree that sticking to priorities makes things run better. If I can just take time in the scriptures my soul feels relaxed and managing life just comes. I appreciate you letting us in to the parts of your life that aren’t picture perfect. But know you are such an inspiration, and I look forward to seeing your images as they truly lift me up and inspire me. Thank you, Thank you!

  10. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for opening up and writing this post. Balance is so difficult sometimes and I know exactly how you feel about dropping all the balls on the floor. Sometimes having one smooth day is all it takes to get the creative juices and enthusiasm flowing abundantly. Your advice is spot on and so appreciated.

  11. Another great post! As women, I think all of us struggle with balance and finding the time for everything. I guess that’s why there’s that saying, “A woman’s work is never done.” So true. I agree that we all put a lot of pressure on ourselves for everything to be perfect and are amazed at how some people seem to have everything in perfect order, when in reality, they struggle too. I like the idea of a “priority list” too. And finally, it’s nice to see a close-up, full face picture of your husband. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen one before. You are such a cute couple and family. Continued blessings!

  12. I think every woman can relate to your post as we all have times when the juggling becomes almost super human to keep up the pace. Love the tips and your insight. Your life story is inspiring ♡

  13. What were you doing inside my head??!! This is so right on its almost scary. I love your realness and I love that you take time everyday for devotional time I am really trying to make this a priority as it sets the tone for the entire day! Thanks for this awesome and real post at a time when we are all craving routine with the return of school days and fall. Time for renewing! LOVE!!

  14. Thank you for sharing your honesty, advice, and reality. This is a wonderful post that will help so many, including myself, realize that their reality is not unique but IS able to thrive despite repeating struggles. As long as we keep moving forward 🙂

  15. We truly all need this from time to time. I am older and have retired so you would think that it wouldn’t happen to me and i thought that too but was i ever mistaken, i still have these days i just take them a little better. And truly God is always there to help us and i have learned to take one day at a time. Thanks Marian.

  16. Such a great post! Full of honesty and we all can relate. I am currently reading “Hands Free Life” by Rachel Macy Stafford (I was lucky enough to get an early copy but it releases next month) and it is really hitting home for me. Focusing on what really matters. You might enjoy reading it, if you can find the time. 🙂 Thanks again for sharing your words from the heart with us.

    1. Sadly, no. I went to a lesson and loved the riding part, but didn’t connect well with the instructor. I need to find another place to ride and, you know how it goes when you lose momentum on an idea. I’ll hopefully pick it up again at some point. I just need to make more time for hobbies, but this might not be the season for it. 🙂

  17. I have walked this path -and on some level still do – but my kids are adults now and that helps. One of the best things we did at the height of a busy successful business I co owned was have a cleaning service every other week. It was amazing how much it helped to know it was down deep clean every 14 days and it was worth every penny. Removing even one stress point on a regular basis has a great trickle down effect.

  18. This might be one of my favorite posts. One of ’em :). It’s so easy to read your blog and see all that you do and assume that you just ooze excellence and success, it’s really great to hear your tricks for doing it all.
    PS – “a to-do list is for real if it’s in a new notebook”… I have said that exact sentence.

  19. As always, your blog posts come right when I need them. Thanks for reminding me that balance really is the key and that even those people that look like they have it all together, maybe need to work on balance sometimes too. I guess we’re all in this together. LOL on the “new notebook” remark – it is so true! jonni

  20. I’m sick (day six) and the balls are fallng everywhere! Ready for a typical day. Thankful my oldest daughter (30) is visiting and is such a blessing. There’s no doing it all perfectly all at the same time. Just keep the wheel turning and be thankful you have the capability to do so. (Many don’t.)

  21. I think some of the feelings you describe come out of a kind of perfectionism. I HAVE to do this, this HAS to be done, my house HAS to be perfect many people feel.
    Add to that so very many things to do (you have 2-3 times as much to do as someone without a business I would guess) you pressure yourself because it’s such a huge number of things it overwhelms. I get overwhelmed with far less to do. Hang in there….and good is good enough:)

  22. Wow! Thank you for your honesty and grace. this post touched my heart and I felt you were speaking directly to all of us who feel that our best is never enough.

  23. great post! I can relate so well. I haven’t blogged much or even looked at other blogs all summer. 🙁 One bit of technology that I have loved discovering this year was Wunderlist. I love making lists, but sometimes forget to bring it with me. I can have all my lists on my phone, and I love that it makes a little *ding* noise whenever I complete something or need to cross something off (like the menu for the week or my business shopping list) It feels less like what I didn’t do, but a little sound reward. 🙂
    thanks for sharing this.

  24. Wow. Thank you so much for sharing this. I needed so very much to hear this today! I love your juggling analogy because it always seems that there are so many days with too few moments in them. Thank you for reminding me that it’s alright to take time a little time for myself. As well as to to forgive myself if the “to do” list isn’t complete.

    ~Corinne
    http://www.lasalledesignblog.com

  25. HELP! My head is falling off,, I’m nodding so badly… lol
    Subscribe to just about everything and admire you even more because with all you do you still find time to put everything ‘to paper’….
    I made ONE word my own for every day of this year and the word is SMILE. I shouldn’t be writing to your blog right now as I’m in an utter mess. We are showing our rental flat in Switzerland tonight and tomorrow and we pass on their application to the owners under the condition, that the new people are buying our furniture (at a very, very low price but still!)…. and what happened when we tried to upfold the wonderful bed-sofa this morning? An important piece of metal got unstuck, and to make things worse, Hero Husband pulled the ‘bottom part’ off and he bent the metal badly because everythng i so heavy…. He then tried to ‘rebend’ the bar and it all came apart, pieces rolling on the floor! There is NO WAY we can fix that; he is not a handyman (praise to Jeff), we haven’t got any tools and no labour at hand and we certainly can’t sell the sofa as part of the furniture deal!
    And what is Kiki doing? Blog commenting…. it’s hopeless, so I made an espresso and I SMILE at the world.
    Thank you Marian 🙂

  26. Great ideas Marian, and I believe you are sharing a real life that almost everyone can relate to! I personally think balance is myth–something we would all love to obtain, but actually is never 100% possible (at least in this fallen world). But we can do our best to set boundaries, desire contentment and joy in our everyday lives, and give ourselves (and others!) lots and lots of grace. We all need it! I recently read about how so many women these days strive for balance but we are demanding that we carry waaaay to much on our “balance beam.” We see all of these women online that are excelling in their field (blogger, super-mom, athlete, food guru, spiritual leader, etc) and we then start to think that we should then be capable of excelling in all of those fields at too. But what we miss is that those women aren’t being great at everything all at once! While on area of life excels, another gets a break, and so on and so on. So the author said we need to take some things “off our beam”. Work at excelling in the areas of our real gifts and talents, and then learn to delegate other things out to people who want to help. There is no way we can all be great at everything! Cheers to you for searching out how more ways to experience peace in the midst of all that life demands, and thanks for sharing your ups and downs with us.

  27. Thank you. After reading this, I feel like giving you a hug. I am so similar in the way I put pressure and expectations on myself, and sometimes it is so difficult to maintain perspective. I so appreciate what you share (not just this post, but each one) and it’s comforting to know that we are all in that similar boat. (I wanted to joke that it turned out you WERE human after all, but I still think you are a superwoman!)

  28. Great insight. What works for me is definitely the immediate priority list. Its short and to the point. It’s a better key to feeling accomplished rather than a long list of what’s left to do. Give yourself permission to delegate some things as you have done by having your assistant Kristi who is so capable. Too many times we gals think we need to do it all ourselves and sometimes help can be our best friend.

  29. Thank you for this, it’s nice to know we’re not alone and the feeling that we’re all humans/people and sometimes we forget the “big blogger names” are wives, girlfriends, moms too and they struggle just like we do. I needed to read this and it was a good reminder just to take a step back and learn to set limits and abide by them, things will get done even if its eventually but you have to live a happy life too 🙂

    Lauren Baxter | Lovely Decor
    xx

  30. Love the idea of a priority list…now all I need to do is prioritize time to read that book! LOL! I’ve started wearing an apron (weird, I know) but I’ve found that the kids are learning my work times and I’m getting more done with out interruption, also, when it’s time to go get my oldest from the school bus it comes off, and I’m clocked out!! I still clean up after dinner and pick-up before bed, but the priorities in my head (which have no clear order) would be for apron hours…thanks for the pep talk and helping me find my center!

  31. I’m a little late coming to the party … interestingly enough, I am behind reading my emails. While I am in a whole different place in my life … 50+ year old, homemaker & empty-nester… I am still struggling with many of the same issues for different reasons. Thank you for reminding us that we all feel “out-of-control” sometimes 🙂

  32. Oh Marion there was such a wonderful sense of you are human after all. Your videos and clips always make you look so happy in got it all together , giving many of us out there wondering how you do it all. Thank you so much and also to Jeff for that priority list – great and simple idea.

  33. Oh how I needed to hear this. To know that someone in your field, someone who seemingly has it all together, someone who IS very successful in her endeavors…. struggles. Thank you for being authentic. I sat there nodding and feeling so affirmed in our similar circumstances ( especially the part about hubby asking what’s for dinner… I mean how dare he!). Your encouragements on how to find some balance were such good reminders 🙂 thank you for this timely post!

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