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.
- 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?