Going to work is a necessary evil for many people. Generating an income for the household is the primary endeavour for the majority of Canadians. Trying to balance time in the workforce with the rest of your existence is no easy feat.
I write a lot about time management. Being a working mom, my days disappear before I get even half the things I plan to do done. I believe we can manage our time successfully, but is there ever really a balance between work life and home life?
Balance is an illusion
Mirriam-Webster defines balance: “to arrange so that one set of elements exactly equals another.” Does this sound like the reality of working life?
As Bill Howatt reflects in the Globe & Mail, there is no work-life balance. This is merely a phrase to help us feel better about our busy lives.
The Canadian Mental Health association reports that 58% of Canadians feel overloaded in the many roles they play. (source: Work Life Balance, CMHA) Parenting, being an employee, enjoying our down time – these things all need to work together in order to create satisfaction in our lives. Often they don’t, and that is where we start striving for “balance” in our everyday lives.
How do we schedule our lives?
Can we prioritize personal time when there are so many other things that need to be done?
Of course we can, if we’re not afraid to put ourselves first.
Don’t let self care fall by the wayside. Life is what you make of it, and it’s important to make some of it about YOU!
As parents we often burn out because we spend so much time helping and supporting our families that we neglect ourselves. It’s easy to do. But there are also easy ways to sneak “me time” into your weeks.
Find those moments of the day when you can be introspective.
I write while my girls are in their dance classes. I haul my laptop to the dance school after work and spend time writing, replying to emails, or scheduling social media there. (That might not sound like down time to you, but I love it, and it lets me relax at home later, after the girls are in bed.)
Don’t sacrifice sleep
Something I still struggle with is my bedtime. I stay up too late trying to fit some last thoughts on a page, or getting drawn into a book. The temptation to keep going is real – I feel it all the time. But putting things away and turning out the light is the best thing you can do for your stress levels.
Get up before your kids do, but go to bed shortly after them. This works best if you’re a morning person (like me), but I’m sure you can train yourself to get a few extra things done in the morning.
My productivity is amazing until about 2pm when I feel done. Getting up early lets me work a bit while my girls eat breakfast before I hustle them out the door and get ready to head to work myself.
Get back to what you love
I’m the first to admit that I lost myself when I had my daughters. What I liked to do, the person I used to be, got lost the minute I had my first baby.
Ten years later I’ve rediscovered my true spirit. It was a long road, but I finally feel I’ve connected with my 20 year old self who still lives inside me.
Find those activities you enjoy. For me it’s taking a dance class, listening to music and making time to read a book. And I truly do enjoy time with my children. Maybe not while they’re trying to do homework, or fighting over whose turn it is to empty the dishwasher, but quality time with my daughters is high on my list of fun things to do.
Can we find some balance?
Even before I had kids I did not balance my work life with my home life. Laundry piled up, and my desire to do housework after work-work was nil. Plunk me down in front of a screen after dinner – I was done for the night.
Now I have kids and 100 more things to do after (and around) working outside the home. I get them done (mostly) but there’s still no “balance.” Balance implies an evenness or equal effort on both sides. I don’t do that.
Working outside the home is a very separate beast than looking after a home and family. My personal effort will always tend towards my family. My job gets my attention while I’m there and that’s pretty much it. My family is always on my mind and is my number one priority.
For me, and many other working parents, that’s reality. There will never be balance because there doesn’t need to be. Every situation is different, every job is different, and every family is different. What feels balanced to one household may be completely off-putting to another.
The idea of keeping our lives in balance is a good one. We just have to work on figuring out what our specific balance looks like.
Don’t compare your life to others – do what works for you. You might not know what your balance looks like right now, but that’s okay. Life is about learning and growing.
Would you share how you strike a balance in your life? What works for you? Or what are you working on improving? I want to hear it about it – leave me a note in the comments!
Do you need help finding more time? See how I can help: