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How this busy parent will find balance in 2019

For The Baltimore Sun

New years mean new opportunities to know better, do better, be better – and who isn’t in need of bettering? (Aside from Jason Momoa.)

I, for one, have so many things to improve, it’s hard to know where to begin. Let’s start with the obvious, the No. 1 resolution on most folks’ lists: health.

In 2017, I worked hard on becoming a more active and fit person. I set a goal to run two 5Ks; I ran three. I ate more salads and fewer carb-y things. I went to the gym.

In 2018, I apparently decided to work hard on becoming a more slothful and flabby person. I set a goal to run one 5K; I ran zero. I ate more brownies and far fewer green things. I forgot (on 364 occasions) to go to the gym.

In 2019, I vow to do better! The older I get, the more I realize that healthy eating isn’t a punishment (even if avoiding most of my favorite foods feels like it is). I actually feel better when I eat salad for lunch instead of a sandwich. Turns out I don’t like having to stop to catch my breath and comfort my knees when climbing a flight of stairs. And it’s much easier to command couch-potato children who are destroying the house to go outside and do something active when I’ve shown them what being active looks like. For these and so many reasons, I will unearth my sneakers from the closet floor and get moving again. And I’ll get this eating thing under control once and for all! (After I finish the leftover sweet potato pie.)

Next on my list: Busy-ness!

Like most of us, my favorite thing to say when someone says, “How are you?” or “What’s going on?” is “Busy as usual.” A close second to the busy broken record: “Tired.” Sometimes I double-whammy people: “Girl, you know – busy and tired!”

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that there might just be a correlation between the two. I guess it doesn’t take a journalist-turned-“communications specialist” to figure it out either, because I seem, inexplicably, to find ways to make myself busier.

It’s not always mindless busy-ness. This year, for example, I spent an amazing, jam-packed week visiting four cities in Morocco with good friends. I wouldn’t trade that exhausting experience for anything, but when – after the fourth night meeting/event/conference call/appointment in a row – your firstborn says, “Mommy, how come it seems like we never see you?” it’s time to re-evaluate priorities and slow down the hamster wheel.

So please keep this in mind when I say no more often than I say yes in 2019. I love y’all. But I love my babies more. And I’m TIRED.

On a related note, third on my list is family.

A couple years back, I felt like I was drowning in the relentlessness of modern parenting (nod to the New York Times article going around the parenting threads). I realized that in the routine of work-home-kids-sleep-work-home-kids-sleep, I’d lost myself. And I made a point to get found. I was proud of the way I worked to make myself a top priority, find time for friends, read books, let the children eat frozen pizza on Fridays and entertain themselves. But like the Gemini that I am, I have a tendency to swing pendulums too far when minor adjustments would have sufficed. So in the last few months of 2018, I took note, and I’ve been working to get back to a comfortable mid-point.

It’ll take some work still in 2019 to get where I need to be – the pull of Me Time is strong! As are the pulls of outside “obligations” and salt ’n vinegar potato chips.

But just wait until I’ve built some muscle at the gym and gotten healthier by eating all. the. kale. I’m going to pull that pendulum until I get to the nirvana of all working parents: Balance.

When I get there, I’ll send you an evite to join me. But feel free to send regrets. You know I’ll understand.

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