By Amy Leclerc, VP of Marketing at barre3
How to balance it all? It’s that million dollar, super cliché question that subverts playground chatter and mom-blogs constantly. It’s such a hot topic because regardless of how you become a parent, if you work outside the home or don't, if you have 3 nannies or are on the parental clock 24-7 — balance is an enigma and every mama is trying her best, promise.
I had our son Blaise at 35. I was well into my career with barre3 at this point. Work was my everything, due in large part to the fact that it didn’t feel like work at all. Our entire company is based on the notion of balance, and how working towards a balanced life (it’s a continual and ever-changing practice) can bring health and happiness in many different ways. I give barre3 my all and then some, because I believe so much in what we do.
Having our first kid rocked my world. I struggled trying to cram all of my previous activities into a day consumed with sleep-training, endless laundry, and a human being who needed me in a way no one has ever needed me before — it was a lot. And truth be told, I couldn’t wait for my maternity leave to come to an end so I could get back to a life where I knew what I was doing and had adult conversations on the regular. Of course, I loved Blaise to the end of the earth and beyond. In fact, I was told by a psychic that Blaise chose me as his mom and we were soul mates bonded in a way no one but the two of us would ever understand — she was spot on. But, having a newfound soul mate didn’t make the day-to-day any easier. It took nearly a year, a bout with post-partum anxiety, and a strong village of support, for me to feel like myself again. And then guess what?! I peed on a stick, and voila, round two.
My second pregnancy came at a crazy time (when does it not?). I was in the process of opening my own barre3 studio in New York City, my husband was traveling a lot for his work, and we had a super active toddler. It was easy to forget I was pregnant with so much going on. But, on April 14th, 2015, Ludivine was born, and our family was complete. We had a beautiful, healthy daughter and I was over the moon in love.
So here I am, mom of 2, career driven, long-distance business owner with an endless to-do list and just like all moms out there, I struggle. The days go by so fast and if I don’t truly stop to acknowledge that these moments are THE moments that define my life, it can all be an overwhelming blur. This said, I do have some insight on how to not go completely nuts trying to juggle it all as a busy mama…
The beauty of working at barre3 is that exercise is always a part of the plan. Whether it’s taking a class during the work day, getting outside during lunch for a brisk walk, or grabbing a few co-workers for an evening yoga class — it’s a huge part of our culture. This has been paramount in helping me in my role as a mother. Exercise has always been my outlet, and while it is more challenging to fit in with kids in the picture, barre3 makes it easier with our online workouts and mobile app, not to mention the childcare we offer on-site at nearly all of our studios. Being able to stay active has made all the difference. I see this over and over at barre3 with all the new moms who make exercise a part of their day, they might be frazzled, but they are centered.
My definition of balance has certainly changed as a mom. I no longer have the luxury of going on a 2-hour run or enjoying leisurely lunches every weekend with friends. My non-negotiables are limited, but exactly that, non-negotiables: snuggle time with my kiddos with no distractions (read: iPhone & computer), top-notch tea or coffee to start my day, an abundance of fresh air (I will often take work calls outside on a walk), and a minimum 30 minutes of heart-healthy exercise everyday. This often means I am power walking the hills near our home in Portland at 9:00 at night after my family is in bed. Spending alone time with my husband Hervé is also something vital to my overall health. He truly is the reason my life has shaped into the beautiful experience it is.
One of the things I am working on in general is lowering my expectations. This starts with the expectations I have of myself, and bleeds into all aspects of life. Being realistic about my capabilities, and prioritizing around my kids, makes decision making easier. We all know the feeling of being pulled in a million directions and for me, taking the time to think about what is going to serve myself and my family best often results in flexing the powerful “no” muscle. Less really is more. For a type-A, driven, people-pleaser like myself, this has been a work in progress and probably my biggest struggle.
I don't have any secret prescriptions for “doing it all.” Though, I can say with confidence that physically taking care of myself, a strong gratitude practice, and learning to let go, have allowed for a life without sacrifice, no matter how crazy the day may be.
Amy Leclerc was one of Barre3’s first instructors in Portland, OR, and is now VP of Sales and Marketing. After almost a decade in NYC, she is back in Portland, but recognized the need for a barre3 studio here in New York, and co-opened the first studio in NYC, barre3 West Village. Amy loves barre3 because she can dedicate time, whether it be 10 minutes or 60 to her body and her breath. Amy and her husband have a 3-year old son, Blaise, and new baby girl, Ludivine.