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Work, Life, Career and Family… Part Two

15 Mar

I guess Work, Life and Family balance is on the brain for a lot of working moms. Here’s a great excerpt from a post from Nataly over at Work It, Mom!

I’ve been a working mom for almost seven years now (gulp!) so I know that the whole work-life balance thing is a myth (and a bad one, at that). It’s not about balance, it’s about trade-offs and juggling and letting some balls fall so that you can juggle the others without losing your sanity. But still, I find myself trying to figure out how to make life a little less crazy (without actually aiming for that unachievable balance) and I hear myself complaining to friends about having too much to get done and not sleeping enough to do it all with a clear head.

My usual routine for the few kiddo-free hours on Saturday morning is to get the cooking and shopping list ready for the week, catch up on a little work, and grab a coffee with my husband. But yesterday I was totally beat from a crazy week at work so instead of getting all the productive stuff done, I just went to the coffee shop, bought a huge latte and settled in to drink and while reading an awesome book I’ve just picked up. For an hour, that is all I did.

I learned something from my hour in the cafe. I’m not sure how to have less stuff on my plate (work, family, cooking, cleaning, organizing, etc.) but I know how to keep my sanity better as I juggle it: An hour doing something I completely and utterly enjoy.

She then asked “What’s your favorite work-life craziness survival tip? How do you completely disconnect and recharge?”

Here’s what I said:
“My best disconnect and recharge activity is doing anything outside the house without hubby and kids in tow. Even if it’s grocery shopping. I feel productive, can stop to do what I want to do and I can think straight without a constant barrage of distractions for just a little bit of time. Of course, ideally in a “perfect” world where I could stop time and really take a nice chunk of “me” time, I’d get away for an hour or two (or a whole day, gasp) and just sit, think, process, get out into nature, take pictures and just meander.”

Also in response to a couple other posters, I had this to say:
“Sometimes a little “me” time can be combined with other things we “have” to do or don’t want to compromise on doing. For instance doing something with your daughter that you also love to do (and recharges you), like a Saturday morning coffee/hot cocoa and pastry run just the two of you OR washing those dishes while watching some TV/listening to a audio book. And in terms of getting ahead on your lists, just make sure you’re doing the absolute top 3 (or 5) things you need to do that day. If your list is ongoing and it has 10 or more items (which cannot be possibly done in one day), you’re more likely to discourage yourself each and everyday with making list of things to do. That’s what I’ve found and heard from others too.”

and

“I love using GTD (Getting Things Done) to help me from having those “lingering” thoughts of things I needed to do. I do a “mind dump” every month and it really helps clear the brain. Even if I don’t get every item that I think of “done”, I know where they are (on one sorted list) and I can strategically pick out those items that “really” needed to be done. Also, I had a talk with my husband and delegated items that really I didn’t need to be doing. (Now, he’ll do all the checkbook balancing/bills, dishes and 75% of the dinners… so that I could work more.)”

What do you think? What’s your favorite work-life craziness survival tip? How do you completely disconnect and recharge? And if you’ve had experience balancing work and family, what advice would you give to others just starting to ponder these things?

Work, Life, Career and Family…

9 Mar

A friend wrote in a Mom’s facebook group that I’m a part of,

Work-life/career-family “balance” (or should I say “juggling”): How do working moms feel about it? Do you always feel like you’re always trying to catch up at home and at work? Or, how have you learned to manage it to your satisfaction? Do you cut out everything else from your life? And how did it change when you had more than one child (or did it prevent you from having more than one)?

I’d like to stay in my career (and it seems really hard to stay home full-time too), but it sometimes feels like I’m not going to do either particularly well.

I suppose this is a question for stay-at-home moms too, since presumably most of you worked before deciding to stay home – what made you decide that it wasn’t worth sticking around at your job? Seems like I’m always thinking about this!

For you Moms (and Dads, too), does this sound familiar?

My response was this:
“I think that often we think that we have to “succeed” at being both the perfect “full-time” working adult and the perfect “full-time” working mom. But in reality you just can’t do both perfectly “full-time”. It’s just not possible. You only have a limited amount of time and energy and self to give before everything falls apart.

First thing is we have to let go of some of the guilt of doing everything and doing to a level of “perfection” that everyone else seems to be doing it at (it’s all a farce really). You can be a good employee, a great (meaning, trying your best) mom and have a house that doesn’t send cockroaches running for cover… but forget being employee of the month, model/make-everything-from-scratch/activity-director-for-all-your-kids-activities type of mom and having a house that looks like it came out of a magazine (unless you have some serious help or your kids are much older and help out a lot.)

Second, for a lot of us (those working full-time, working part-time or working at-home/SAHM included and have toddlers) we’re in a season where we might be focused more on one side of the coin than the other. And that is OK. Life in general comes in seasons. For the season of “my kids are young”, your outside life might seem non-existent. Just consider it as a bit of a “social winter” (although hopefully you still have some mommy networks, play dates and your kids have friends, I don’t recommend complete isolation) where everything “extra” is cut out of “life”. But there will be a time when you’ll know it’s time to jump back into things.

Overall, it is very much a balance and (some pre-planning/forethought doesn’t hurt either). Saying that you’re juggling Work/Career, Life and Family seems more like we’re just trying to get through the day/the season… but that doesn’t sound too fun, fulfilling or enjoyable for anyone. Instead we should embrace each season for what it is and enjoy it. Soon it will pass and we can never have it back.”

Also, I wanted to add a quick afterthought (and I am guilty of this myself) – but we Moms (and Dads) must remember to be good parents we do have to focus on (in this order… it’s important) 1. Our walk with God (and some healthy “me” time), 2. Our marriages 3. Our kids/family and then 4. Our work/career. Otherwise what’s the point of our all busy activities if we to lose sight of why we’re doing it all in the first place. Am I right or am I right?

What other words of advice or wisdom would you add? Or if you find yourself struggling in how to balance Work, Life and Family, what is the hardest part that you face?

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