The Myth of Work/Life Balance

we will be just fine

{via Words Over Pixels}

Work/life balance. We’re told it’s the holy grail of leading a happy life.

But if you’re a stay at home parent, how exactly are you supposed to differentiate “work” from “life”? On more than one (thousand) occasions, I have said to Sparky in utter frustration:

– “You’re lucky – at least you get to leave work!”

– “My days don’t end. My job is never done!”

– “I don’t get weekends or sick leave!”

While a lot of this is simply me being a bitch exhaustion and emotional fatigue (particularly if I haven’t had any alone time recently) a lot of it also has to do with the idea that everything needs to be perfectly balanced. That we need to perfectly manage the needs of everyone in our life, every day. And that anything less is a failure.

But I am here to tell you that work/life balance is bullshit. It’s a complete myth. And you should forget about achieving it, because you won’t.

Instead, we 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.

(*Borrowing the term from Nicole from Planning with Kids.)

If you look at balance as something you need to achieve every day, you simply won’t be able to do it. Because each day brings different challenges, different tasks, different needs from your family.

Some days:

  • your kids will be happy to play independently – tilt towards catching up on tasks around the house.
  • your kids will be sick, or needy, or plain grumpy, meaning you can’t get anything done except the very basics. Tilt towards supporting the kids and being extra mindful of what’s going on for them.
  • your partner will be under added pressure at work. Tilt towards lessening the load on them at home.
  • you will need to recharge. Tilt towards being kind to yourself and letting go of the things that don’t help with that.

Do you see what I mean?

Instead of battling to find balance every day, try and create it over a month. Or a year.


How Do You Do That? Create Balance in Life?

Ask yourself, what are your priorities in life?

  • caring for your kids, physically and emotionally?
  • supporting your partner?
  • being there for your family when they need you?
  • maintaining social relationships with friends?
  • working or creating to nourish yourself?
  • looking after your own health and well being?
  • finding contentment in life?
  • creating a home that is calm, warm and open to all those you love?

Then, one-by-one, think about how you have given each of those priorities time, effort and attention over the past six months.

Do they stack up? Do you feel confident that, over this period of time, you are balancing them all as well as possible? Are there any areas that don’t get enough from you? Can you see times where you consistently tilt the wrong way?

Keep in mind, you are the only one who can decide what this balance looks and feels like for you.

But if you keep your priorities in mind, you will find that tilting and adjusting your time and efforts will help you find a much better balance, than if you try to balance it all each and every day.

Do you think there is such a thing as good work/life balance? How do you try to achieve it in your life?


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9 Responses to The Myth of Work/Life Balance

  1. Oh Brooke – I love this post! I struggle with balance! This is a really good way of looking at it. I am no longer trying to balance, I am going to TILT !!! :D Sonia xxx

    • Brooke McAlary says:

      Go the tilt!! :) A simple shift in the way I’m looking at it, and the chaos seems more managable. And I’m much more chilled. Most days anyway.

  2. Michelle says:

    Love it. Just love it. Work/life balance is hard for so many-sometimes we just need to go with the flow of what the day brings. Since I have a clingy boy today I’m now tilting towards him!!

    • Brooke McAlary says:

      That’s where I’ve been the last few days too, Michelle. Our little one is teething and miserable, so I’m tilting that way. Which means other stuff doesn’t happen, and I’m learning to be OK with that. Most of the time anyway! :)

  3. Excellent post. I love the idea of tilting. I can agree that work/life balance is mythology. I guess what I try to do is aim for “reasonably good”. For example, I may have had too rough a day to put a home cooked meal on the table, but the family still won’t end up with candy corn for dinner. A carry out meal from the deli is reasonably good in my book.

  4. Deb says:

    Thanks for this post. I kept trying to balance not realizing that I just need to tilt!

  5. Rachel Roberts says:

    I have just found this site and am having an amazing time reading through all the posts! This one in particular really strikes a chord with me. I’m always trying to balance work, home, teenagers, husband, dogs, parents, friends, cooking, tidying and so on…Now I will just see which way the world is tilting today! Thanks for this!

  6. sarah says:

    have a hard time finding the balance. i feel like it is a constant sacrifice between family and work. priorities need to be shifted a bit. . .

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