Friday, 21 October 2011

Balancing Act

Before having kids the man and I said that we would never become those parents who let their kids take over their lives. We would have at least one date night a week, go on regular romantic mini breaks and would never lose sight of who we are as people.

6 years later, with Shrek playing on the PC and Cbeebies on the TV beside it in one room (son number 2 inches away from the screen flicking his head back and forth, ever said to your kid “you can’t watch two things at once!”? Well, you’re wrong) and Xbox Lego Harry Potter taking a battering in the other, the man and me hole up in our tiny kitchen (the only area where toys are not allowed, although as I write this I can see a number of infringements just from where I’m sitting) and I am suddenly reminded of our promise. How is it that we have allowed the kids to take over our world and lost the balance between being parents and being people?

The more I think of it the more I realise that balance is key in pretty much every single area of our lives. And most of us struggle to find it.

Our oven has gone haywire this week, it started a month ago when Expensive Cat knocked a speaker down off the fridge freezer and smashed two radiant rings of the ceramic hob. After we discovered the £300 excess on our home insurance we patched it up with a bit of cardboard box, and sellotaped the knobs of the affected rings down. But a month on, the oven bit of it now isn’t working properly either. Sometimes it will turn on and others it won’t, a problem when you’ve just defrosted a chicken ready for roasting, can’t exactly stick it in the microwave.

So we have spent the last week trying to work out how on earth we will manage to afford a new oven and bemoaning that as a result of said new oven, our promised family holiday (which was to be the first in 5 years) and romantic mini break (first time ever) next year may not happen. On the other hand, some very dear friends of ours are getting married and details of stag and hen weekends have been released. While initial reaction is to RSVP in the affirmative instantly (they are our friends, it’s an important time for them after all, we’ll find the money), on reflection we need to think about finding a balance. We are scraping together the money for the oven (and holiday), yet not even flinching at going on hen and stag weekends which will cost almost as much. We need to find some kind of balance between spending money on kitchen appliances and leisure breaks for the family, and being there for our friends.

I don’t think I will ever find a balance between binging on chocolate and dieting, being lazy and obsessively working out. The key is a healthy, balanced diet, and regular exercise with a balance between cardio and strength training, you hear it all the time. But even though I seem to comfortably maintain my weight with my “good during the week, naughty at weekends” philosophy, I don’t feel as if it’s particularly balanced. Wouldn’t a balanced person find a happy medium between “good” and “naughty”?

If my life were a set of scales I feel like it would be frantically swinging up at one side and down at the other, I just can’t get my scales to balance in the middle.

I have been trying to come up with a conclusion to this blog for ages. Usually I can say how I think I could find a balance, offer some kind of pearl of wisdom as to how I think other people do it. But I honestly don’t think there is any such thing, no one has a perfect balance because we all have a finite amount of money and time, and constantly shifting priorities.

Maybe at the moment our kids are taking over our house and we’re feeling the weight of the scales being tipped heavily in their direction, and maybe those scales are also leaning closer to having safe kitchen appliances and being able to roast a chicken rather than holidays and hen do’s, but there will come a time when the scales tip back the other way. I hope so because I want to reclaim my sitting room, watch something other than Shrek and actually be able to afford a flipping romantic mini break for the first time in my life.

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