FWP: The Secret to Work-Life Balance
PROBLEM: Dear Swaddle ladies, I just got a promotion, which I’ve been wanting for a while. But now I’m struggling to hit that work-life balance with two kids at home. Your group seems very passionate about that — any tips for moms who don’t have it as figured out?
KB: There’s really only one thing you need to know: absolutely zero percent of working parents have figured out this elusive ting called work-life balance. It doesn’t exist. And absolutely no one has an organized, Marie Kondo-inspired, Instagram-friendly life. We hall have cereal in our hair and an overflowing laundry hamper… some of us are just better at hiding it than others. So, perhaps focus on those areas that make you feel most stressed, and work on them, a little bit at a time. As my mother always said: the best way to eat an elephant is the start with the foot. It makes sense, I promise.
SB: First of all, congratulations on your promotion! I think being a parent is a little like having a superpower that makes you more efficient and focused; clearly that’s true for you.
I have to agree with KB, it’s the biggest, Instagram-perpetuated myth that anyone has it totally together and even the people ‘telling it like it is’ are still doing it in full make-up. At all times it’s a juggling act with one item precariously hanging in the air while you tend to the others. I think it’s called work-life balance because the scales are always tipping to one side or another; if you redefine success as riding the tipping scales back and forth rather than continually trying to find equal distribution of time and effort, the elusive work-life balance conundrum will be easier to manage.
LG: I believe in work-life balance because the counterpoint — that it’s unicorn — is too depressing to contemplate. Even when I picture said unicorn with rainbow hair.
But I certainly don’t have it figured out! The first step I’d suggest taking, though, echoes what SB & KB have already said: Stop thinking other people have it more figured out; they don’t. Once you understand that home truth, it’ll be easier to focus on what parts of work are getting in the way of life. Then, try to make a nudge here and a trim there. But mostly? Good luck. And I mean that sincerely.
RT: I am not a mother but by observing my career-driven mommy, I can pass on what I see. The top advice: Do your thing without feeling guilty, but be there for times that matter the most. This is the only realistic work mommy-life balance you can achieve.
A one-hour catch-up session in the evening is all it took to keep me feeling happy and loved. Also, I think I admired my mom more for her ambition and wanted to model my behaviour after hers. Like the other ladies said, don’t get too hung up on the term. “Work-life balance” like “diet wine” is just another elusive term.