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A Balancing Act

Editor's Note: Cherryl McNab is President of AEBC's Kelowna, British Columbia, Chapter.

Balancing employment, family, home and volunteering can be very fulfilling, yet somewhat trying at times. It took a toll on me over a period of 20 years, but I share a little of how I managed this balancing act, with the hope that you might gain some tips and maybe even come up with some ideas of your own.

I am the mom of two adult children, a girl and a boy. While our kids were growing up, my husband and I had to work in order to pay all the bills, but I didn't enter the job market until 1988, when both children were in school (they graduated in 2000 and 2002). Once they were in the education system, the kids started other activities, such as Brownies and Cubs, and my daughter was extremely good at gymnastics. We had to manage an even busier schedule when my husband went back to school in order to change his career. We juggled my husband's learning (often occupying his evenings), my working to meet our expenses, the kids' extracurricular activities, and keeping our home running. Did I mention we all also had different volunteer positions?

One thing we found helpful was all of us sitting down together for dinner. This was when we talked, laughed, shared stories about our day, and discussed more serious issues like my son's cancer. When the kids had problems in school, we would all brain storm and come up with ideas or possible solutions. We took every minute we could to communicate and help each other.

Then our "balanced life" changed again when my husband started a new job, which took him 30 miles each way everyday, and the kids entered their teens. My daughter was in an all-girls bugle band that did lots of travelling, and my son was very involved in the Scouting movement. By then, I had also become a manager and started upgrading my education.

But our "talking" and "family time" proved helpful again. When my daughter started struggling with high school and was considering dropping out during this hectic period, it seemed to help her when she and I shared academic experiences, compared our exams and studied together. She managed to make it through the rest of high school.

What worked for us, as a family, was the solid time we all set aside to communicate, plan holidays and laugh together. One key is humour. It both relaxes and feeds your mind and body, and is very important in coping, as is getting the right amount of sleep to keep your thinking clear and energy flowing. It is essential to find that "little something" of your very own--an interest, hobby or entertainment--to provide a release and help you maintain your sanity. My family took what time it could to do something together, such as bike riding, camping, or going out for lunch. Life was very hectic, but we made the time to maintain our equilibrium, to the best of our ability.