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On Finding Balance: Embracing the Struggle

By Caitlin Castina 

I’m 32 years old, divorced with two kids, and I live with my parents – and I’ve decided to apply to graduate school. I know, it sounds kind of nuts, but somehow everything works out (most of the time).

People are always asking how I balance everything. Between kids, school, and work, how do I make time for friends and family? How do I make time for myself? The honest answer is that a lot of the time I’m not balanced, and sometimes the only alone time I get is on my short drive to and from work.  

But I do my best.  From trial and error, I’ve learned a few things that get me that much closer to a balanced life on the days when everything is competing for my time and energy. 

1.    Make a list every day and check things off. If don’t, you run the risk of never feeling like you’re getting anything done. Plus, if you are forgetful like me, you may forget some major detail and botch something! Your list is your friend. 

2.    Do something nice for yourself at least once a week.  Take yourself out for coffee, or stop at the liquor store on discount wine day and pick up your favorite bottle.  Go ahead and get some chocolate while you’re at it. If you don’t take care of yourself, then you’re no good to anyone else.

3.    Make time for exercise.  Find something that gets you excited about sweating. My new thing is contemporary dance.  It’s a great work out and a form of artistic expression.

4.    Watch what you eat. Not in a crazed kind of way. Just be mindful of what you eat and how you feel. Write it down, at least for a couple of days – this creates self-awareness and accountability.

5.    When it comes to spending time with friends or family I have learned it is more about quality time than quantity time.  When you have time together, be present and make it special!

6.    If you’re in a relationship or married make sure you keep up the dating thing (you know, a specific time spent exclusively with one another), because believe me it’s real easy to get stuck in a rut.

7.    Embrace imbalance. The reality is on a day to day basis everything won’t be perfectly balanced. There are days when you’re going to neglect your family, and you might eat an entire pizza and binge watch Netflix on a Sunday. But guess what? You can burn that off on Monday!

The beauty and challenge of balance is that it’s ongoing process. There is no deadline – it’s a perpetual work in progress, which means you're always learning something new about yourself. And that isn't a bad thing.  

Sometimes I have to pivot and change course and that throws me off balance. That’s okay. That that’s the beauty of a balancing act. 

If you fall, you just get up, try again, and grow.  

Caitlin Castina is a daydreamer and overwhelmed mother of two getting ready to pursue her Master's degree.  She loves being creative in her spare time; whether it be creating amazing recipes,  sewing clothes for herself and two daughters, or coming up with more ways to stay active and healthy.

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