My life is a balancing act. Between PhD life and Motherhood, there is never a lack of things to do. I did A Week in the Life post last year which still rings mostly true, although the days that things occur have shifted around. My life, as does that of pretty much all working mothers, revolves around 3 main things: work, kid, personal.
Balancing them all so that one does not fall off the sanity tight rope into the abyss of despair is a real feat. I have great days, moderate days and why-the-hell-did-I-even-get-up-and-try days.
Overall, I think I do a good job at not utterly failing... often at least. That's the first thing I had to learn, there will be failures along the way. And that has to be OK. When I have a day where I feel like I utterly failed at everything I lay in bed and try to remind myself that Boo is fed, clothed, healthy and overall happy. So I could not have failed THAT badly! Or if it's lab related failure, I probably did not blow up anything or hurt myself or someone else so could have been worse. The biggest trick, of course, is to force yourself to examine what could have gone worse and why your day was not the worst failure ever seen in the history of mankind.
Usually my stress does not come in the form of failure but overwhelmed with the amount of stuff that has to be accomplished. There is homework, both mine and Boo's, there is housework, there is play time, there is reading, there is writing, there is studying, there is lesson planning and grading. It seems like a never ending stream of items that must be completed.
One of the things that has really helped me, and I've stopped doing it recently which is probably adding to my stress, is actually making a list. Having a concrete, physical list where I can exuberantly scratch the completed item off the face of the paper.
And once I complete the day's list, I can take the rest of the day off. I give myself permission to not feel guilty about leaving tomorrow's list until tomorrow and enjoy the rest of today. Giving yourself permission to take a break is critical to success, not only in grad school, but in life in general.
What are your tricks for achieving balance in life? Are you a list-maker? Let me know in the comments!