Mums! Stop trying to juggle everything – learn how to tilt instead

Posted in Wellbeing.

Public service announcement! Forget about trying to have it all and being THAT mum who’s perfectly balancing everything in her life. I just learned about ’tilting’, and I think every struggling mum needs to get on board. NOW.

The juggle struggle

It’s one of the most common problems that mothers today face – trying to balance kids, a career, relationships, health, home duties and their own wants and needs. Every day we have a million balls in the air and feel so guilty when one of them drops. While saying “no” to things can be helpful for a while, as is communicating better with your partner, so they can do their share the workload, it’s usually not long before you’re back there again trying to be everything to everyone. And it’s exhausting. Which is why when I read about the concept of tilting last week, a far more realistic and more beneficial way of life for mums, I sure as heck sat up and took note.

stressed mum cooking

What is tilting?

Brooke McAlery, author of books Slow and Destination: Simple and host of popular podcast Slow Your Homeis a huge fan of tilting. She first heard about the concept from Sarah Wilson who wrote about it a while back, in reference to a 2009 study by UK trend researcher Marcus Birmingham, who found that as they get older, women generally get sadder. So he looked at what happy women were doing differently.

“These happy women … realised that balance was impossible (and therefore stressful) to achieve, but also rather boring. Instead, they ’tilted’ towards activities and commitments they liked and found meaningful,” Sarah pointed out on her blog.

“Braking constantly is exhausting. Saying ‘no’ is exhausting and doing things for balance, rather than because it matters to you is, frankly, martyrish. Tilting, on the other hand, is a positive flow forward, a moving ‘with’ life.”

Breaking it down

As Brooke further explains in her books, tilting is a mindset. It’s choosing to be off-balance and focus on what’s important at that moment, because “instead of battling to find balance every day, it’s more important to create it over a month.”

For example, if you spend most of one week looking after the kids who are at home sick, then the next week when they’re better, you might shift priorities to focus more on your work.

“It’s about being aware of the changing pressures of life and being flexible … each day brings different challenges, different tasks and different needs from your family,” she says.

Mother meditating kids chaos

Tilt, don’t balance

If you still think that somehow you can be that ‘supermum’ who balances everything perfectly – well, stop it right now. Or, tilt a little toward Brooke, who has this to say:

“I am here to tell you that this balancing act is a complete myth. And you should forget about achieving it, because you won’t,” she writes in Destination: Simple. “Instead, you need to learn to tilt. To willingly throw things out of balance. And, importantly, we need to learn to be OK with that. Actually, we need to learn to embrace it.”

Well hallelujah!

Tips for tilting

There is no step-by-step manual for tilting; it’s a way of thinking and living. However, these tips might give you a head start:

  • Accept that you won’t ever achieve perfect balance on a daily basis.
  • Learn to identify what your real immediate priorities are and stick to them.
  • Regularly ask yourself whether you’ve felt balanced the past week, month, six months, etc. And if not, that’s OK – but maybe it’s time to tilt some more.
  • Don’t undervalue your own needs – it’s okay to tilt towards self-care when you need it and let go of what’s standing in the way of this.
  • When you tilt one way, also work out what then needs less focus – e.g. a busy week at work could mean simple meals and fewer chores.
  • Let go of guilt – you’re doing the best you can, and tilting will help you stress less, achieve more, and get closer to creating the so-called balance that you crave.


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