That ever elusive desire for the perfect “balance” between personal, professional and parenting activities – all executed with enthusiasm and prowess is a constant challenge for most.
The concept of ‘work/life balance’ is exactly that … merely a concept. In fact I was interested to see what the definition would sound like if there was such a thing. Breaking down the meaning of the three words in order:
“To produce or accomplish something, in any specified period of animate time, with equal distribution of weight.”
Something to think about. In reality it isn’t about ‘balance’ it is about figuring out what is important to us and what really matters and allocating sufficient time to achieve happiness.
Due to advancements in technology, we can work from anywhere in the world and at any time of the day (in fact I am typing this at the beach right now with my 3 year old sleeping beside me). The positive with this is that it enables the very opportunity to be a ’work-at-home-mum’. Having worked from home for many years, as well as in the corporate office environment, I know all too well the challenges and benefits that come with both, especially when you have a young family.
The notion of “working from home”, often implies that all facets of your life are better managed then those who don’t work from home. In my experience, there is often an unwritten law that you can multitask your time to achieve all the daily household tasks as well as put in a productive ‘working’ day. Being faced with the nagging demands of this can often lead to more pressure and added stress for mums who work from home and the increased feeling of only part achieving anything!
Let me paint you a picture: When I rush my kids out the door by 7am to do the day care and school drop off to be in the office by 8am, I really don’t care too much about the dishes left in the sink or the beds not being made and I really don’t think about it again until I walk back in the door that evening. However, when I used to work from home full time it was instinctive to make sure these tasks were done at some stage of the day. Don’t get me wrong, being able to fold washing while on a conference call or preparing dinner in your lunch hour can often be very advantageous, however often we lose focus and end up doing lots of odd tasks which in turn leads to doing extra work after hours after all. Working from home requires discipline and commitment to the time you dedicate your professional life to.
The reality is that we have to separate our professional and personal lives regardless of where we work to maintain any sort of “equilibrium”. A few rules I tried to adopt while working from home to help me (albeit guilty for breaking these too):
- Outsource the daily tasks that are distracting you from your professional or personal goals (Just because you are home doesn’t mean you have time to clean the bathroom and mop the floors!)
- Turn the phone off in core family hours (this will change your life if you stick to it… and more importantly change the way your children engage with you too.
- Make time for you and your partner (easier said than done, but staying connected and being on the ‘same team’ as such, makes everything ultimately calmer and more bearable.
- Take some time out for yourself (exercise, have a bath, meditate for 20 min)