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the balancing act

Last January I spoke on a panel at Alt Design Summit about Work/Life Balance. And I've spent the last 9 month trying to follow my own advice.

I spoke at Alt about how I see the Work/Life Balance as a juggle. We have these balls in the air: jobs, kids, freelance work, family responsibilities, volunteering, husbands, hobbies, church obligations, housekeeping, blogging.. I could go on and on. 

But not all our balls weigh the same. Some are heavier than others, some are more fragile. There are some balls we can drop and then pick up a little while later. Some require more energy (and might not be worth juggling at all) and some balls we don't ever want to put down.

I think the most important part of living a balanced life is deciding which balls you need to keep in the air, and which you can set aside for a bit (or get rid of altogether). It's hard work to keep all those balls in the air at once, but we often feel that we need to. That we can somehow go on juggling and juggling forever.

In fact, when we are most busy, we often take on even more balls.. like that juggler at the circus who is already juggling three pins, a chainsaw, two flaming torches, and a bowling ball.. and then has a little girl toss in one more ball just to show he can manage. And usually he does. But every once in a while, that one extra ball is just too much and everything comes crashing down.

There are certain balls I just can't drop. And others I don't need to be juggling at all. And so I've stepped away from this blog for a bit. It's been nice to have one less thing to juggle. This blog was starting to feel like a job of its own, and I never intended it to be that. I've enjoyed just being with my family and not worrying about documenting every little thing. 

We had a lovely summer. Mid-July we had our fourth baby, a sweet little boy I'll call Lee. He is a doll with big blue eyes and long eyelashes, and universally adored by all. 

Before each new baby, I try to put a few balls down. I take a little break from freelance work, I try to keep the older kids schedules loose, and I volunteer for less. Then I can add that newborn into my busy juggle without losing my balance too much. It always takes me a few months and then I start to ease into my new balancing act, reevaluating each ball as I go. 

I'm already starting to feel like I can pick up a few of those balls I set aside. I've signed up for a few new book projects, though I won't get started on them for a few months. And I'm feeling like I can give a little love to this blog again.

We'll see how the juggling act goes. 

Image from one of our favorite alphabet books, Bruno Munari's ABC.

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Reader Comments (40)

I was just wondering where you were hiding. Congratulations! A new baby is a wonderful reason for a quiet blog.

09.27.2012 | Unregistered Commentereliza

Love that image. And love the truth that we often take on more when we're already maxed out:) Speaking on that panel with you was amazing, and I've been taking my own advice since then too. It's a hard but beautiful thing to keep yourself in check like that. Can't wait to see your next projects! And ooooh....congrats on your sweet baby!

sarah jane

09.27.2012 | Unregistered Commentersarah jane

Congratulations on the birth of your baby boy :) Thank you for your thoughtful words on the juggling we all do. I am happy to read that the blog-ball has only been dropped for some time - I'm looking forward to it being picked up again once in a while. But yes, blogging should be fun and not a job and even if I love the posts you write I fully understand that sometimes a blog somewhere in the web is not the number one thing to turn to. It certainly can't compete with a beautiful new baby. Best wishes to you and your family!

09.28.2012 | Unregistered CommenterClarissa

That is great! I'm glad that you are back. As usual you post is very sweet and truthful. Your blog was one of the first ones that i started to follow. Now I'm slowly starting my own.
Hope to see you around:)


09.28.2012 | Unregistered CommenterMercedes

Beautifully said Brooke, and I soooo appreciate hearing this advice! Love the juggling analogy. Of course I am greedy and always want to see/hear what you guys are up to, but I am so glad and fully support the break—esp. for such a darling little guy!

09.28.2012 | Unregistered CommenterLinsey

Congratulations on the new baby! It's lovely to see you back.

09.28.2012 | Unregistered CommenterViv

Congratulations. I read your blog a few months ago and loved it. Especially the posts on kids books. I think I bought quite a few on your reccomendation and was'nt disappointed. (I also tried a balloon party, not quite so successful but fun all the same!) Enjoy your little baby, there's no better reason to take a break from blogging.

09.28.2012 | Unregistered CommenterLucy Mitchell

It's nice to hear from you again! You are a great example of keeping your priorities in check and I think you'll always have readers eager to hear from you whenever you have the time. Congratulations on your new baby!

09.28.2012 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

Oh thank heavens. I mean, I get the balls and all, but that was a loooooong summer without you.

09.28.2012 | Unregistered Commenterjenny

Brooke. I'll admit it. I've been finding some solace in your blogs static state for the last few months, as I myself am trying so hard to keep everything in motion. Thank you for taking a breather. As someone who respects you and loves you, it makes me realize how much I appreciate you and your work, and how much I admire your values. Also I really hope one of those book projects that you just said yes to is mine. Not to put you on the spot.

09.28.2012 | Unregistered CommenterHeather Ross

I love that you wrote this. Thank you. I know this isn't the last time I'll be reading this post. I'm quite certain I'll keep coming back to it as reference/reminder to seek balance.

09.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterKristen

Yay, you're back! I've missed you but am glad you took a little break too. :-)

09.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterRenee

Congratulations on your sweet baby boy! I have missed your posts but at the same time I kind of like it when bloggers take breaks because it means that I don't have so many reads to "catch up on". :) We all do need to evaluate what is important time to time. Blessings on you and yours! Kelly

09.29.2012 | Unregistered CommenterKelly

So happy for your new addition. I have enjoyed your blog immensely and have been wondering where you had disappeared to. This is such wonderful news. I have three (3, 6, 8) children of my own and can most definitely sympathize with the juggling routine. Please go and enjoy your family with full blessings!!!

10.1.2012 | Unregistered Commenterjae

congratulations on your newest addition! you sound like a good, loving, wise mom to take the time to prepare and adjust. the thought of you being able to give this space "a little love" makes me smile. even spread out and from time to time...it is always nice hearing from your end.

10.1.2012 | Unregistered Commenterlulu and family

Congratulations on the birth of Number Four! I have four children, too, and it's wonderful having so many. But definitely a juggling act. As a writer, I appreciate the way Anne of Green Gables put it when someone asked if she was still writing: "I'm writing living epistles." It's all about creating, whether it's craft projects, books, cooking, or babies!

CONGRATS on the birth of your little boy! I hope you're enjoying all the newness and snuggles! i'd often check in here to see if you had posted, but knew you'd be off enjoying your life somewhere - and so you should be! Especially if blogging is feeling like a chore. i wrote about this myself the other day so it's nice to see someone that I read in a similar boat (though you managed to word it so much more eloquently than my mini rant!). congrats again x

10.2.2012 | Unregistered Commenterbelinda


10.2.2012 | Unregistered CommenterReadersguide

I have to admit that I check your blog about once a week, so I was pleasantly surprised today. Congratualtions on the new addition to your family!

10.9.2012 | Unregistered CommenterSarah R.

Brooke, so happy for your family's new addition. I found that with my fourth baby I finally understood how quickly the babyhood passes and so was very happy to take all the time I could get savoring it. Smelling baby feet irrationally became my number one priority. Loved your observation about the balls and wish you all the best in your work! I always love the parts of it that I see!

10.21.2012 | Unregistered CommenterLynne

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