Finding Balance as A Parent
"My life at home and work are much different than what I’d planned for 2020 — but I’m finding ways to make peace with that."
By Krista Dooley
Mother, sister, wife, friend, daughter, niece, co-worker, colleague, employee, neighbor, community member. I wear many hats in my life. It’s a constant, delicate balancing act to care for myself and the people I love.
At WTA, I’ve worn many hats, too, most recently as the leader of our community partnerships and leadership development team. Part of my job is supporting programs that help young people get outside — challenging right now, when we can’t be together physically. But we’re adapting, and doing all we can to provide support, including by moving training online and creating videos that will ultimately allow more people to enjoy the benefits of time outside.
I’m adapting in my own life, too. My plans for the summer included wandering across the Western U.S.. with my family in search of outdoor adventures. Instead, I’ve been staying close to home, trying to find time in nature and balancing my many roles as best I can.
Finding balance has been at the front of my mind since I welcomed my first daughter in 2016. It resurged again in 2018 when my second daughter arrived. In a year such as this, with so much uncertainty, I have realized I need to find new ways to create balance. I have accepted that being good enough is what I have to offer. I’ve had some proud moments and big fails as a parent this year and that’s OK. I don’t need a parent of the year award or gold stars to hang on my refrigerator. I’ve had to be flexible, adjust my priorities and rethink how to manage all that I’m experiencing on this adventure called life.
As I reflect on the first half of the year, I understand that good enough will keep things moving forward — but perhaps not at the pace I had envisioned for the new decade. I am looking at the second half of 2020 with a new perspective. I’ve done a few things to keep balance this year, including slowing down, finding new ways to stay connected, adjusting routines and keeping creativity flowing.
I take time each day to listen to what brings joy to my family. At dinner, we ask “what was your favorite part of today?” and we each share a response. It’s been great to hear the answers and a nice reminder of what joy can be at age 2, 4 or 40-something. I’ve scheduled walk and talk phone calls with colleagues to replicate the strolls we used to take from our office to get updates about work and life. I’ve had weekly zoom sessions with grandparents and cousins and shared long-distance celebrations of birthdays.
I’ve gotten to know my neighborhood much better during family walks and bike rides. As the seasons have changed, we’ve noticed more flowers, trees and even gotten familiar with where the bugs live in the cracks of the sidewalks. I’ve channeled pent-up creative energy to encourage my kids to brighten our sidewalks with chalk and create window murals from their paintings. Even our mail carrier commented that it brightened her day to see the colorful displays.
While I had high hopes in January for the start of a new decade and grand outdoor adventures, I have taken a step back. I look forward to spending more time on trails and getting outside to explore nature with my family and friends when we can to do so safely. I’m adapting my work life to support my coworkers and our partners in new ways. And as I reflect, I realize that the adjustments I’ve made to maintain balance are still keeping forward momentum. And I know that the people who I engage with each day, no matter what hat I’m wearing, only need me to be good enough. And that’s enough.