What Our Kids Teach us About Life Balance

Are you open to learning life balance from your kids? Think about it – when kids are tired they sleep, no matter where they are. They just rest when they are tired, when was the last time you did that? Here are a couple tips to help you open up to the idea of learning balance from kids.

As my kids have grown, and I’ve been fortunate enough to step away from a brutal workaholic schedule and watch them grow up and become young adults, I’ve really enjoyed learning how children just seem to understand balance, and they can teach it to us when we’re willing to learn.

Of course that’s a big if. I spent several of my children’s first years working hours that were nothing short of outrageous, and for two years I spent my week in New York working and part (I emphasize part) of my weekend in Chicago where I nominally “lived” with my family.

I was fortunate to realize how much this routine was taking from my life and my family, and I was able to get out of my employment contract, move my family to a more relaxed area and start a new life.

And in the process of watching my kids grow up, I realized that kids, until we teach them otherwise, know balance.

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Have you ever watched a young child come home from school, sit down in front of the television and just fall sound asleep? Kids know when they’re tired. Sometimes they’ll go to the trouble of getting in bed and covering up, sometimes they just collapse where they are. But kids rest when they’re tired. It probably would not even occur to a ten-year-old to keep working when he was exhausted.

Kids love play, and my kids taught me how to play. Because I was home when they got home from school, I got to be available when they wanted to play a game or just be silly. I learned how important a good tickle fight is to our emotional balance. Apparently, I had not participated in enough tickle fights during my workaholic days, or I would have been balanced enough not to get that caught up in work.

Kids know how to get their priorities straight and keep them that way. If you ask a kid if they’d rather have a Brussels sprout or a cookie, there’s not going to be any hesitation. Kids are not going to stand there saying, “Hmm. I had a salad for lunch, so I can probably spare the calories if I have a Diet Coke with the cookie instead of a glass of milk.” Kids are going to grab the cookie and run.

We can learn so much from kids. I guess I’m a little late on this idea, because that Fulghum guy wrote “All I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” twenty or so years ago. But watching my kids grow up was all I really needed to learn that I needed to rest when I’m tired, play whenever I can, and keep my priorities straight. And take the cookie and run.

How can you learn balance from children?

  • If you have children in your life, watch them. If not, try to borrow some.
  • Watch how children react to situations. While they may get upset, they get over it quickly.
  • Practice keeping your priorities straight, and take the cookie.

Many thanks to Scott Couchenour of Serving Strong for recommending this article.