Whether you work full-time, part-time, or are a stay-at-home-mum, I’m pretty confident that at least once since you had your child (or children), you’ve been asked ‘How do you manage?’ I know I’ve asked it several times – of Mums who seem to have so much more on their plate than I – more work/more kids/less help – it’s hard not to compare and wonder whether you’re doing enough.

On the flip side, though, is that I have been asked the same question – I often think ‘Well I work part-time and I only have one child so how busy can I really be? A friend pointed out recently that actually, I am pretty busy. So, how do I manage? Well, I’m sure I’m not the only one who might respond with ‘I juggle.’

The thing with juggling though, is that it takes some practice, and even experts can drop a ball from time to time. I guess the trick is remembering which balls it’s ok to drop. A long time before I had Mushroom, someone told me a story about juggling – I don’t remember it exactly but it was a metaphor for life (you may have heard something similar) about how some of the balls – family and health stand out but I’m sure there was at least one more – are glass. If you drop these, they might break.

You don't want to drop this ball...

I actually think that family is more than one ball – don’t you? We all have individual relationships with our children, partners, parents, siblings and extended family members (this extends to in-laws if you have them) – that’s quite a lot to keep up with. You might want to throw some of your friends into the mix as well. Then there’s another ball for friends as these are important too, another for health, and so on. It’s tiring just thinking about it! I imagine most of us are juggling other balls too – they may be different for different people but many tie in to these glass ones. For example, although career aspirations may vary, we all need to earn enough money to stay healthy and feed our families – dropping that ball could impact on all the others.

At the moment, I work part-time (in communications) and Mushroom only goes to nursery on the days I work so the rest of the time he’s with me. On these ‘days off’ as they are often laughingly referred to, I spend quality time with Mushroom –  (that’s a glass ball, that one), write two blogs (hence the usual weekly post or less), promote these posts on twitter and other forums as well as other  commitments related to these blogs. I also do the occasional bit of freelance coaching and writing and have started writing a novel (that ball has been dropped several times). Then of course there’s all the usual ‘life’ stuff that everyone has – banking/finance admin, housework/shopping etc. Most of this I do when Mushroom is asleep, which is far less than it used to be (and it wasn’t much to start with) and I think he may drop his lunchtime nap soon (Argh! What will I do? Drop another ball I expect).

So – Of all of this, the most important ‘balls’ for me are immediate family, my job/career (this includes the coaching and writing), my health, my ‘other’ writing (by this I mean personal unpaid projects like pro bono work and my novel) and my friends. Family comes first, alongside my closest friends, but the order of the other balls changes from time to time. Work is too often above health so I’m trying to change this!

How do I manage? Routine, routine, routine. It really does help, although of course it’s good to break the routine once in a while too. Early nights help too – I’m usually in bed before 11, anticipating a 6am start, if not before.

Which are your most important balls? And how do you make sure you don’t drop them?

Photo credit: By audfriday13 at www.freedigitalphotos.net