We are expected to do it all.

Succeed in our careers, enjoy a juicy relationship, maintain a lovely and inviting home, raise well-behaved dogs or children, all the while with abundant exuberance and a smile on our face. And, while we may, in fact, achieve “success” for a period, without balancing those expectations to include play time, we are not likely to sustain this type of effort.

Before we explore the balance of work and play, let’s take a sobering reality check:

Most of us are obligated to hold a job to keep our lives on a forward trajectory. Depending on your relationship status and kid situation, you will not only contribute to the family finances, in some cases as the sole provider, but you may have sole or shared duty to nurture your children, your partners, and extended family members. That’s in addition to keeping up with the house, which may include shopping, preparing meals, cleaning, laundry, or rendering minor repairs.

Or, what about helping with homework, talking with teachers, soothing hurt feelings, and broken hearts, walking the dog, emptying the cat litter box, paying the bills (all the while balancing the family budget), and mowing the lawn in summer. If you are in a sole-parenting situation, then your “work” surely does not begin at 8 AM and end at 5 PM—you’re pretty much working 24 hours a day, seven days a week…

Given all the energy we devote to household/family needs, how is it that we find time for success in our work life? Because we must. Whether we work full-time or part-time, at an executive or laborer level, love our work or just tolerate it, we give as much of ourselves to the job as we do to our family and home.


That brings me to my point: What’s left over?

Where is the energy or the time for our pleasures, our personal pursuits, or our self-nurturing – our play time? Yes, we undoubtedly derive pleasure from our family and work successes and challenges, but it is not enough!

We need balance in our lives. This is easier said than done, yes, but it can and needs to be done.

Finding balance is a practiced skill, meaning that it must be practiced to become familiar. Click To Tweet

Our life path may have been obscured by our sense of obligation to others so that we can no longer see the way to care for ourselves.

Balance incorporates several vital components, such as:

  • relaxation or a quieting of the mind
  • eating foods that are health sustaining
  • engaging in some physical activity
  • intentional play time

The quieting of the mind is the most crucial aspect of this balance.

The relaxation achieved from this quitting can have a tremendously positive effect on your physical and emotional health. Give yourself permission to take just one, or three, or six minutes a day to sit and breathe. These quiet moments of breathing will decrease the adrenaline inflammation that is present because of hectic schedules, will allow you to let go of negative self-talk that may be a part of your inner dialogue, can lower your blood pressure, and will rejuvenate depleted energy. Scientific studies have shown that adults can choose healthy behaviors much more consistently when a routine relaxation effort is put forth.


Another aspect of balance is eating real food.

The types of foods we choose are impacted by our sense of calm versus chaos. If the day is hectic, it is more likely that fast food may be the choice for dinner. If calm and quiet are present in your decision making, you may pursue a family/friend cooking night when everyone helps chop, sauté, spice, broil, and mix so that you have the ultimate pleasure of enjoying the family prepared meal together. Fast foods or foods that are microwaved are often from processed ingredients that have less nutritional value than the fresher version. The additives in packaged foods cause inflammation inside the body. There is certainly a place for fast food in our lives, but when it becomes the norm instead of the exception, is not only physical health compromised, but also our emotional beings are not well fed.


Physical activity is another central tenet of achieving balance in your life.

But who has time for it? First of all, there are ways to bring in routine activity without going to a gym or taking time away from other responsibilities. You can try to find ways to move throughout the day like taking the stairs, parking at the far end of the lot, or going outdoors for a quick walk on your lunch break. Some other ideas are stretching your neck and shoulders while you are at your desk or doing some squats as you stand at the copy machine at work. You can get creative about moving your body! The more vigorous the physical activity is, the more it allows for the release of “feel good” hormones. This release will increase energy and sense of emotional well-being.


Here are some play/physical activity ideas if you have kids:

*While the kiddos ride along on their tricycles, you can speed-walk.
*Next time you’re hiking, and they’re hooting and hollering, you can feel the breeze in your hair.
*Or, while they nap, you can paint your toenails, watch a favorite movie, journal, savor a glass of wine along with a piece of dark chocolate, or take a nap yourself!

If kids aren’t part of your scene – you can cook dinner with some friends, go for a more extended and quieter walk in the woods, take a pottery or painting class, curl up with a good book, or…take a nap! Play can be, and often is, an outdoors activity, but it can also be a chosen indoor fun time.

Love your family well, work efficiently and effectively, find time for play, nurture yourself, eat healthful foods—these simple but intentional choices are each worthy of being part of your daily routine.

Another great way of ensuring you mindfully choose a balance of work and play is to utilize the WWC Family Meeting. It’s a free tool that Kyle and Rachel created as a weekly tool-kit for connection whether there is 2 of you or 10 of you. You can get your free copy by filling out the form below. Also, I’d love to continue the conversation with you in the WWC Facebook Group aka the online community. You can click here to join the private group!


Robin Mallery, RN is the founder of HeartMatters, a behavior change and life-management program for busy people. Robin works with her clients to achieve their Health Vision by incorporating small-step daily goals that lead to pleasant and sustainable health behaviors. While you are waiting for her to finish the upcoming book, “Kitchen Zen: The Journey to Nourish Body and Soul in Our Changing World,” you can find Robin’s sporadic blog posts here.