Finding your Balance
It’s February half-term this week which to me illuminates the pull between work and home perfectly for a lot of women at this time of year.
On one hand it’s a great time to have extended time with your children. If, that is, you have enough holiday leave to cover it, and, of course, you want to. Taking enforced leave, however, possibly at a time when work is flying or your business is gathering momentum, can feel frustrating and adds to the feeling of imbalance as home needs have to take precedence over work needs. Alternatively, you may be itching to go on days out with your children and spend precious family time with them but work is so damn busy that you daren’t ask for the time off for fear of what it will add to your workload when you go back.
So how do you find the balance?
It’s the ultimate question for a many a working, career-focused or entrepreneurial mother. How do you divide your loyalties, desires and obligations to feed the many demands of holding down a career or running a business whilst raising a family and being a good mother.
It’s difficult enough sitting in either camp especially if you want to excel in both. But what if you do want to get to the top in your career and be a great mother? What do you need to do to make sure that both your work and home life are getting the right amount of attention, time and energy from you?
Having worked now with many women who face this dilemma and possible imbalance every day, I’ve come to realise that there is no one magic formula to ensure that you get the balance right. It very much depends on your own personal circumstances, preferences and priorities. So what might work for one woman may not feel right to another. Nor do I think that you can do it all of the time. There are, however, a few universal tips to help you to create more balance to manage a life with work and home, happy together.
I am of the belief that women can have it all, just as long as they’re not doing it all. Many of the women I coach don’t even realise how much they are doing, especially in the realm of the home. Domestic responsibility is the main culprit, in my view, of working women feeling imbalanced and unable to meet the demands of the life they are leading.
Passing over jobs and expertise to someone else can save you so much time and energy, especially if you undergo a costs analysis exercise to see what the real cost is to you of you doing these activities yourself. Classic areas to outsource are cleaning, childcare, gardening , DIY and, if you run your business, admin. If you are holding down a career and run a family, think about giving yourself permission to hire in the help.
- Build a support network
If the thought of hiring in help makes you go into a sweat and conflicts with your money values or mindset, a great alternative (or in my view “an also need”), is to build a solid local support network. These are the people you can go to at the flick of a switch and ask for help with emergency childcare, or regular childcare for that matter. They will club together to have a painting party when you face a raft of redecoration work. They will feed you when you are sick. They are there for you when you need them. To have such a network only works though on the basis that you are there for them equally. You get back what you give out.
- Share the responsibility
Many of us, share our lives with a partner so it seems like an obvious place to start sharing the load. But again, I often deal with women who don’t even see this an option. Mainly because they haven’t yet realised that they are doing the lion’s share or often due to ingrained and long held beliefs that have been passed down to them about what is expected of women in the home, whether they are working or not. This usually tends to show up at home, but it could also be happening in the work place too, especially if you have a tendency to micro manage teams or have a fear of delegating. Letting go and delegating at work or letting your partner get involved with more domestic responsibilities, even if you still retain the manager title, can really help to bring in some much needed balance. A balanced homelife can be the foundation of building a happy marriage between work and home.
- Do less
Your time is precious because you don’t have an awful lot left that’s spare. So why cram in so many activities when you get back from work or at the weekend. Do you really need to be doing all of these things? The same goes for the things that your children are doing. Revisit your values and priorities and get strict about where and who gets a chunk of your valuable time.
This is a big one. Accepting that you will not be the best worker or best mother at all times is key. You can always strive to be the best, but accepting that sometimes one part of your life will take priority over the other due to any number of issues that are occurring will greatly help you to shift the balance when you need to. Letting go of perfectionist ideals can reduce anxiety and feelings of overwhelm if we can get to a place of being good enough, at least some of the time.
So, if you are reading this and feeling guilty for not being at home with your kids this half-term or you are sneaking 5 minutes to read it, wishing you could just have a day to yourself to get some work done as the kids tear down the house behind you. Remind yourself. You are capable of many things and you will achieve many of those things, but you probably won’t do them all at once.
I will be holding a workshop on Monday 16th March, 7.30pm to 9.30 pm to help women begin the rebalancing act. You can book your place here: