I'm here to liberate you from the word BALANCE.
Balance is a bad, bad word. Just like the Seven Deadly Words are banished by the FCC from radio and TV, 'balance' should be relegated to the Seven Deadly Words of Parenting, right up there with "serenity," and "orderly".
Anytime I see someone talking about balance, they're usually trying to strive for it. Franky, as parents we have plenty to strive for. Safety, food, and shelter.
Got those? Great! You can stop striving now.
In my book, balance is an antiquated word, like "Women's Right to Vote". It's really, really good that somewhere, someone introduced it to the idea of parenting, because 'balance' gave rise to the idea that marriages and individuals need attention, too. Can that be a given now, just like women's right to vote? Can we take it for granted that all parties in the family have a right to become fully realized individuals?
"Balance" implies that there can exist some kind of perfectly arranged day at the end of which I've done a magnificent job at work, used my drive time in a fulfilling way, thereby fitting "me-time" into my commute, magically prepared a well-balanced meal and creativity-sparking activity for my child upon arrival home, read something enriching, exercised, did 15 minutes of house-straighening which magically resulted in all the out of season clothes being sorted into piles of "donate" "giveaway" "might fit next year" and "icky, throw away," put my daughter to bed after some kind of easeful "bed time routine," achieved stimulating conversation with my husband and got a full 9 hours of sleep. And exercised.
It's a tall order, balance. Circus artists have to train for many, many years to walk that tightrope.
Can we agree on "happy" or "prioritized"? Can balance give way to just feeling good at the end of the day about the things we prioritized and the things we left for tomorrow? Can balance give way to making moment-by-moment decisions about reading 7 books being more important than honoring some kind of 8:00 bedtime? How about if balance looked like messy, chaotic fingerpaint and dishes in the sink until the morning? Or if balance looked like 3 hours of crappy TV just so mommy can work at home on Fridays? Or if balance looked like mad bursts of productivity followed days of eating chocolate and letting the house go to pot?
Can we all stop talking about the tightrope balancing act, and just talk about feeling good instead?