What works best for me, I find, is at least attempting some sort of structure and routine - especially for the boys. It never really works out well for us when we're all stuck at home with no plans - the boys get bored (easily) and it feels tougher when there's no set time put aside for day to day or work responsibilities.
I mean, of course it's not all routines and structures, it couldn't be even that's something we wanted. I've said before about how you can't always plan for things with young children, or you can, but you have to accept that plans change and that kids won't always want to do as you may have intended.
But even so we like to have at least some sort of idea of what we're going to achieve that day, from the little things like putting a wash on or cleaning the floor, to what activities we want to do, what we'd like to tick off of our work to-do list and what we'd like to do for ourselves.
Because we also think it's important to make plans for 'us time' and 'me time' too - just because we're parents shouldn't mean that those aspects of life get neglected. I've always thought that to be the best sort of parent I can be and to run this house as best as I can and to do the best with my work, I need to feel happy, recharged and refreshed as myself.
And whilst feeling recharged and refreshed isn't always how I wake up each morning (especially at 5am after 2/3 hours sleep), I do try and make the time to ensure both Adam and I have moments in our week to do something for us both together and individually.
Date nights aren't always easy, though we have family who are hugely supportive and who love seeing the boys, it's not always practical. Especially as my Mother-in-law has the boys for me most Fridays so that I can work on my blogging and on creating content for my youtube channel. I guess that's why sites like Sitters exist. It's a website that was created by a family back in 1999, that sort of acts as a childcare agency, connecting local babysitters who have been reference checked to families in need of a few hours or more childcare for their little ones. We haven't used it ourselves yet but you can see by searching your postcode on their website which roads around you regularly use Sitters approved childcarer's and there's actually a few around near us who use them.
I think when it comes to balancing it all as a parent, it's about not expecting to do too much or putting too much pressure on ourselves. I try to look at everything I need to do over the course of a week, I find that a day isn't long enough to tick a lot of things off when I'm Mum to the boys at the ages they are. If I split my 'to-do's' over a week, I can usually manage it.
On the days that don't go to plan and all I've done is pretty much get through the day, I try my hardest to learn to accept it and to move on knowing that tomorrow is a new day. As frustrating as that sometimes is - it's part of parenthood.
As above, I like to ensure that all bases are covered and that not just one thing is getting the majority of my time. I try and split it and prioritise, but never neglect anything.
I'm learning (slowly) to let go of the Mum-guilt. It's ridiculously and unnecessary most of the time. I think I'm finally starting to see that I could give my boys the entire planet and I'd feel guilty for not giving them Mars too. I don't need to and I shouldn't put that pressure on myself. I find Mum-guilt a lot like anxiety - it just sits there up in my head sometimes like a little monster filling my head with exaggerated and negative worries about myself, when actually if I take a step back and look in - everything and everyone is totally fine!
Balancing it all will never be an easy task, but I'm constantly learning new ways to handle things and new perspectives and approaches to try. Because I think that just it - as a parent you never really stop learning.