Being a mommy requires the same skills that are required in any other demanding job. One of the most important things a mom can do for herself is to find balance. Balance is one of those in buzz words that motivational speakers use frequently in books, on talk shows and in magazine articles. Here is my practical idea about balance. Saying you need balance isn’t an answer. This is a fact. Yet that is the advice many moms receive as a form of support. “Just make sure you maintain balance,” friends, family, other moms chant endlessly until you are nauseated by the sound of it more than the current pop song your kids force you to play in the car, in your house, anywhere there’s an ipod. Rarely is there any specific guidance on how to achieve the ever elusive balance. Having no psychology degree and having the thin experience of editing my friend’s self-help book approximately five years ago, I believe I am uniquely qualified to give these tips to the three people who follow my blog (hi, mom!). First, acknowledge that you are a good mom. I know this because you have taken the time to read someone’s opinion about being a better mom. That says something about you as a person. That says that you want to give the best to your children and that you are looking to finds ways to accomplish this feat. Second, because you are a good mom, take the time off that you deserve. This can be in the form of a mini vacation to a nearby place that you love or something even smaller such as an hour at a park, reading your favorite Jane Austen novel. Leave the toys in the middle of the floor, stop looking at the work you may have brought home (if you work outside of the house) and get away. Two weeks ago I treated myself to a cheap foot massage and took a nap in the dark, quiet, room of this whole-in-the-wall parlor. It was a little piece of heaven that cost me around $20 including tip. It meant I had to pack lunch for work that week and I couldn’t have my vanilla soy chai latte (no h2o) but it was well worth it. I entered my house relaxed and calm. Surprisingly, my children were alive and well in the hands of their father that evening (however, I have been teaching my 5 year-old about dialing 911 should the occasion arise). Third (kind of ties into second), SLEEP! I’m preaching to the choir with this one but as a writer who works full-time NOT writing and who has two small children, there really isn’t much time for sleep. However, it is a goal of mine to get enough of it because I know it extends life (so my mommy says), is better for weight loss, reduces irritability and practically every healthcare professional will tell you it is key to good health. But, in order to get that sleep, you may need to employ piece of advice number 4, enlist help. I am lucky. My mother volunteered to assist my family by moving in with us for a finite amount of time (until we drive her too crazy to live with us anymore) primarily to watch my toddler and to allow me to get my career back on some sort of path. In addition to my mother, I have recruited my extended family of close friends who I lean on to watch the children as needed. Recently, I have even convinced my significant other that we require a cleaning person on a semi-regular basis, especially with five of us living together. Mothers are adept at being superheroes and taking on everything themselves. But it is neither necessary nor practical. It truly does take a village and we shouldn’t assume those villagers around us know what we want. Spell it out. Make it plain. The people who love you will do what they can and you’d be surprised to what extent your friends and family will help. Most will derive their joy from spending time with your little angels because those shape-shifters usually act much better toward others than they do toward their own parents. I don’t know why this is but all of my friends give glowing reports about my son and his angelic behavior whilst spending time amongst them. Instead, I get the tantrums, demands and teenager-like attitudes (which I am told will literally repeat when my children are teenagers, oh joy!). Finally (and this is the most important part) forgive yourself. This tip may not seem like it has anything to do with time management. You’re probably wondering, “how will that provide balance?” Forgiving yourself will infuse you with the emotional energy to do the other things you need to do to achieve balance. Forgive yourself often. Do this many times in one day if necessary. You will make mistakes. You might not read to your children every single day. You might have a temper and raise your voice once in a while. You may be too exhausted to cook a nutritious meal. You may be too tired to think. You are a mom and you were made to mother your children. You were given the exact tools, gifts, traits to raise those adoring munchkins. Maybe you won’t do it the way your mother did it or the way you thought you would even do it but you are committed to “mommyhood” and that is enough. You are the best woman for the job.