Posts Tagged ‘Balance’

Is it just me, or does it seem like the last few months of the year go incredibly fast?  We hit October and there’s Halloween.  You blink and it’s Thanksgiving.  You blink again and it’s Christmas/Hanukkah, and one more blink and it’s an entirely New Year!

New Years Eve

As I wrote in a previous post, we celebrate many holidays in our home.  We keep the Christmas decorations up after the New Year until the 12 days of Christmas are over – January 6.  The Littlest E was on break from school for 2-½ weeks and my husband took a staycation for 1 of those weeks.  It was wonderful to have both of them home.  Tom and I didn’t need to set an alarm clock because we knew our lively lad would wake us up around 6:30. I think once or twice during that week, we were blessed with a 7:00 appearance.  The luxury of sleeping in!  Part of me does look forward to the day when The Littlest E is a bit older and actually, truly does sleep in, however, I love the mornings when he wants to come in bed with us and hang out.  It’s awesome family time.  And, of course, our dog, Pepper, has to get in on the action, too.

Holiday time is such a busy time, with vacation, visiting friends, holiday gatherings, all the planning and prep it takes, etc., etc., etc.  Many people take time to reflect at year’s end and come up with resolutions for the approaching year.  I used to pick Angel Cards to see what words would be my focus for the year ahead.  I’ve never really been a New Year’s resolution person though, and, since bringing The Littlest E home with us from Ethiopia 4+ years ago, there doesn’t seem too much time during the holidays for major introspection.

That time happened on January 6.  Tom started back to work on January 5, and The Littlest E went back to school the next day. After I dropped him off, I came home, walked the dog and then proceeded to put away all our holiday decorations.  It was the first time in a couple of weeks I was alone for an extended period.  Pepper was resting and the house was quiet.  The only sounds were cars driving by on a street nearby, the heat coming through the vents wafting warm air my way, and an occasional bird making its voice heard.  It was the perfect opportunity for a bit of contemplation about the year past and the year ahead, and the floodgates of my mind opened with numerous thoughts rushing in.

Meeting Mickey

We had a good year as a family last year.  We traveled a bit to see our families, went to an Ethiopian adoptive heritage camp, went glamping with classmates from preschool, and took The Littlest E to Disneyland for the first time.  The Littlest E began asking more questions about his adoption.  Both Tom and I provided him and will continue to provide him with answers that are appropriate for his age. You’d be surprised at the kinds questions he was asking.  Kids are perceptive and understand more than we think they do.  I won’t go into details because it gets into territory that belongs to our son, since his adoption is his story to tell. I’m just really glad we are here at this point, and he’s asking.  It’s so important for him and for everyone concerned.

I love my family and honestly, couldn’t ask for anything more, well, maybe a bigger house, but that will happen in due time.  Our nightly gratitudes we say at dinner make me feel, well, grateful.  I hear the things my son is grateful for and it puts a smile on my face. Pepper, joined the family this past September and she’s love personified.  She fit right in with minimal adjustment.  Our new routine of daily walks including one in the morning with my son, allows me special one-on-one time with him, and a bit of exercise to boot.  I love just being with him.  We’re all good.  Tom and I could always use more date nights, but I think we have a balance that works.  I want to continue to love and support my hubby in all his endeavors.


The explosion of growth that has gone on with The Littlest E this year, not just height, but brain power, imagination, energy, and appetite.  You name it.  He’s sight-reading some words, and they’re learning to write in class.  Watching him figure things out is one of the neatest things I’ve seen or when he’s focused on building something with his Magna Tiles or figuring out answers to questions from his Sylvan learning books, it’s the best.  His imagination is on fire. The first part of last year was all about the Ninja Turtles.  Then the last six months and currently, it’s everything Star Wars. Everything is a lightsaber or sword.  He’s watched a Star Wars movie with lightsaber in hand ready to do battle along the other Jedi, literally. We have rules of play in the house that he observes (most of the time).  He can fight with Darth Wingback or Darth Couch, but can’t fight with Mom and Dad, if neither of us cares to join in.  And he loves stories, too. Right now Tom is reading to him a lot of Greek myths.  The Littlest E LOVES them and regularly asks on the way to school, “Tell me a story, Mommy.” Star Wars, Disney movies, Eurydice, anything made up, often make the ask list. Being a Mom is the coolest thing.


A headspace occupier for us this past year has been the quest for a kindergarten.  When I was a child, schools were vastly different. So it’s been a blog-worthy journey trying to figure out the best option for our son.  We’re not sure how things will unfold.  We’ll know in the next few months.  We just hope we do right by our son, and are excited about where he’s headed for his next phase of life and education.

Aside from a bit of skin cancer, I had a pretty good year.  Now that The Littlest E is older and heading off to kindergarten in the fall, I’m ready to get back to work and start contributing financially to our house.  In serving on the board of Connect-A-Kid and working on my project, I discovered that I’m pretty adept in reaching out to strangers, making cold calls, and networking, particularly when I truly believe in something.  I’ve got my project and I’m also partnering with a girlfriend to help her event company thrive.  I’m excited about both opportunities and have faith that it’s all going to fall into place one way or another. Somehow the Universe has always provided, when I do the footwork.  The biggest challenge from last year, as I think with any parent or person for that matter, is balance, when to say yes, when to say no, and when to take action or take it easy.  Balance will be key this year, too.

So, no resolutions, though more exercise should be on the list as well as cutting back on watching so much television, just ideas and thoughts about 2015, and reflections on 2014.  With life there are ups and downs. Hopefully, the year ahead will have more ups than downs. Hopefully, all the grandparents will stay healthy.  Hopefully, the year will be filled with wonderful adventures, good times with family and friends, and personal, professional, spiritual and emotional growth for the three of us.  We’ll see how the year unfolds!

Images: Cindy Kilpatrick, Melanie Elliott


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I recently wrote a blog about the value in quality time.  At the time, I was off from work because my son was on spring break, and I was struggling with the balance between work life and home life.  I wrote that I wasn’t sure if I had a job to go back to once his break from preschool was over.  Well, sure enough, I was no longer needed at my job.  In all honesty, it wasn’t work I wanted to do.  My boss brought me on because he started a firm, which was different from the work I did for him last summer.  I went along because I thought it would be a good opportunity for me.  There was the hope that I’d eventually get back to the more exciting work I was doing for him, but that wasn’t the case.

The whole thing feels like a whirlwind.  I was working from home part-time last summer, then took a break, then began working from an office still part-time but more hours, and then 3 months after that, I’m back to being a stay-at-home mom.  Even though I wasn’t working for long, I really enjoyed it.  I absolutely love being a mom and am grateful everyday that our family is in such a place where I don’t have to work.  But, I liked working.  It was fulfilling in a different way than being a mom, adding more flavor to my life, more colors.  And, I liked my little paycheck, which also felt good to contribute in another way.

No Luck

When I found out I wasn’t going back to work, at least at that job, I had a little identity crisis.  For many years I was in the workforce and then we brought The Littlest E home with us from Ethiopia.  I became the mother of a 12½-month old baby boy and wrote a number of blogs about adjusting to life as a stay-at-home mom after working for so long.  I even gave myself a title, The Executive Director of the Elliott Family Residence because I started resenting doing the dishes, the laundry, the cleaning, etc.  I loved and relished the mom part, but the other stuff got under my skin.  That title shifted things for me.  I totally owned my job, I’m a Mom and I’m the Executive Director of our family.  I rose to the occasion and excelled at my position!  I got really into planning meals and running the house.

Then, the job offer came.  It was tough balancing everything.  We aren’t able to hire a nanny so it fell on me to go to work, and do the housework.   My husband is a true partner in all aspects of our family life.  He is great with our son, does his chores he has.  He is a wonderful, present father and husband.  There were still things I had to do, my responsibilities.  The balance between home life and work life is a difficult one and I was processing working it through when I got laid off.

Balance is everything

It’s been interesting adjusting to being solely at home again.  I’m looking for part-time work, but my hours are pretty specific.  I need to be available to take our son to and from preschool, plus be with him after school.  Who knows if the right job will come along?  When I was working from home, it was perfect because I worked the hours I wanted and still got paid.  I’ve been taught that everything is exactly the way it’s supposed to be.  When I’m focused on that, I don’t resent being home anymore.

The time with my son is fleeting.  He’s in preschool now, but soon it’ll be kindergarten, elementary school and after school sports or other activities, then middle and high school.  Before we know it, he’s off to college.  If everything is exactly the way it’s supposed to be, then for now, I am supposed to be here.  There’s that old saying, “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery.  Today is a gift, that’s why they call it the Present.”  Today is a gift and each day is a gift.  I only have this day, this now and how do I want to live it?

Peace of Mind

Another thing I was taught when asking the Universe a question, there are three answers: “Yes,” “Not now,” or “There’s something better.”  I have a project that I’m working on and if something happens with that, I’ll definitely be working full-time.  When that happens, my husband and I will make the necessary adjustments in our schedules and hire a babysitter for after school.  Perhaps this project is my something better.  No matter what, it’s all going to be okay.  I’m settling into life after my layoff, and it’s a nice life filled with love, family, gratitude, and peace of mind.

Images: Jason Langheine, luluemon athletica, luisar

©Melanie Elliott

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For the past 10 days (except for 1 day when I went into work), I’ve had the joy of rediscovering my son, The Littlest E, while he was on spring break from preschool.  It was amazing in so many ways.  Since it’s my husband’s busy season at work, we didn’t travel anywhere.   My son and I had wonderful playdates with friends, family came into town and we also spent time with one another just hanging out.  We had the best quality time together.

I started a part-time job last summer where I worked from home.  It was the perfect set up.  I’d drive my son to school, work the hours I could and then pick him up after school.  I still had deadlines, but I had the luxury of not going into an office and working at any hour.  As of January, that changed.  My boss opened a firm and I started going into the office when The Littlest E was in school.  Basically, I went from not working, to working part-time at home (10-12 hours per week), to working part-time in an office (17 hours per week), which I found out was easier said than done.

I know I’m not the first working mom to balance home life, work life, personal life, etc., and I know I won’t be the last.  It was a pretty big transition, working in an office.  One I welcomed, though I found it hard to get everything done that needed to get done and still have dinner on the table at night and not have errands, chores and my blog weighing on my brain.  I love being a mom, love working and love writing, and, at times, during the past three months, found it challenging to do all three well.  Plus, the quality time I had with my son diminished.


In the mornings, we were always rushing to get to school so I wouldn’t be too late getting to work.  Not that my boss or anyone there was pressuring me to be on time, it was me that was pressuring me.  Breakfasts were faster paced, and there was no time to play before leaving for school.  Hustle, hustle, hustle.  Then, when I’d pick The Littlest E up from school, we had errands to run.  He still takes swimming lessons and has an occasional after school playdate, but there was a lot to do to run the house.  Again, some of the fun got lost and so did the quality time.  There was so much to do at home, once there that I didn’t give him the attention he deserved.  As days went on, things got easier and less stressful, but spring break came at the perfect time.  My boss didn’t need me to work, and I took that time to be home with my son.

These past 10 days, I fell more in love with him than before, if that’s even possible.  He’s such a great kid and so full of life.  He’s a joy to be around and I lost a bit of that while I was working.  I was so busy needing to get to the next thing, I forgot to be in the moment, and cherish those moments with my little guy.  Big lesson learned; it’s about quality time.  Over the last month or so there’ve been a number of deaths of people not directly close to me, but peripherally.  Some were expected, others happened much too quickly.  These deaths reminded me that we never know when our number is up.  How do I want to spend my days?  Rushing around or being in the present moment and savoring the life I have.

Things may be changing at my job.  I may not be needed anymore, which is okay.  My hours may be cut, or they may stay the same.  I don’t have the answers yet, and I’m truly okay with any outcome.  My boss is a friend and we are on good terms.  Regardless of what happens, I know it’s all good.  I also know if I go back to working the hours I worked, I need to shift my way of being.  The chores will still be there, I’ll still need to get to work, and I’ll still need to run errands, but the way I handle things will be different. Things may get stressful, yet if I step back, breathe in and out a few times, it makes a difference.  There might be a little more dust around the house, or that errand just doesn’t get done right away, and that’s fine.  My main priority is my son, taking care of him, and making sure the time I spend with him is quality time.

Hourglass cropped

I’ve got this day, this now, this present.  This morning, I let my son sleep in a bit.  Whether it was luck or not, things went smoothly.  No rushing, but an enjoyable pre school morning.  I wasn’t needed at the office today, which may have added to the relaxed environment, but I don’t think so.  I’ve learned my lesson.  Take time to smell the coffee (or roses).  I’m grateful for this spring break and grateful to have rediscovered what it is to spend quality time with The Littlest E.

©Melanie Elliott

Images: Jamiesrabbits, openDemocracy

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I’m sure every parent at one time or another has had to remember that lovely word BALANCE.  Merriam-Webster defines balance among other definitions as:

“Mental and emotional steadiness;

Physical equilibrium;

An instrument for weighing: as

a : a beam that is supported freely in the center and

has two pans of equal weight suspended from its ends.”

Since The Littlest E is older and life is filled with work, playdates, running the house, etc. BALANCE is key.  When my son was pre preschool age, we got into a great groove.  We had activities most mornings.  I knew when he went down for his nap, how much time he napped and how the rest of the afternoon and evening went.  We had family dinners together every night, followed by playtime with Daddy. Daddy gave him a nightly bath and read to him before bed.  Each evening ended with a family hug and Tom and I putting our son to bed.

Groove or no groove, there were definitely times of tremendous stress.  During this period, I learned how to ask for help, most of it through an emotional breakdown.  BALANCE was not an easy thing to find.  That’s changed for the most part as I got used to being a parent.  Once in a while, I’ll still have a meltdown, but that’s only because I’m out of balance.  I previously blogged about the importance of what I then called Mom-Me time.  Taking that personal time to breathe and regroup is still important, but BALANCE is more of a complete picture.

Now that The Littlest E is in preschool four days a week, I have more time on my hands, but I’ve also taken on more.  I have a part-time job that is wonderful, yet it’s caused shifts in my schedule.  When I was writing for the magazine 1-½ years ago, I had time to blog five blogs a month per my contact.  Now, I’m lucky if I write two.  I miss writing and being more active with social media, but things change.  I know I can’t do everything.  If only there were 36 hours in a day, right?

So BALANCE comes into play.  My job as a parent is never done, that’s a given.  There’s the balance between down time at night when my husband does his thing and I do mine, and the two of us spending time together.  Date nights are very important, as well as the talks we have before going to sleep.  It’s crucial we stay connected, especially as The Littlest E gets older.

There’s the balancing act of running the house, doing laundry, cleaning, cooking, doing the dishes, paying bills and balancing the checkbook, making phone calls, the things that come up which need addressing, and finding time to exercise.  You all know it.  There’s a lot to do in a day or a week, and if you work full-time, that balancing act is ever more precious.  I have to admit I get frustrated when I can’t find the balance and things slide.  At times BALANCE is elusive.

It’s tough sometimes to balance making commitments.  I used to be able to over commit without consequences, and now there is neither time nor energy to do that.  I hate saying No, yet it’s necessary for emotional and physical balance, and for the balance of our family time.

I guess what I’ve learned is that there’s always going to be a To Do list whether it’s literal or figurative.  There’s always something that needs to get done, and there’s probably always going to be time limitations.  I’m also pretty sure BALANCE will be an operative word in our lives.  Perhaps when The Littlest E is in college things may ease up, but that’s far down the road.

While I was in college, my date book was my best friend.  I used it to block out chunks of time for classes and studying.  I still rely heavily on my date book and life is still divided into chunks of time.  All I can do is what’s on today’s plate.  That’s it, nothing more. There’s a certain freedom in knowing I can’t do everything.  If I can accept it, then perhaps BALANCE is that wonderful word after all.

Images: lululemon athletica, Yogendra Joshi,  Kingzoot

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