How To Find The Perfect Balance Between Work, Family And Personal Life
If there’s one goal shared by every working mum, work life balance is probably it. Finding enough time for all the things that are important to us is a challenge. But in pursuit of this magical balance, many mums have never felt more exhausted and unbalanced.
What is work life balance?
Cambridge Dictionary defines work-life balance as:
“the amount of time you spend doing your job compared with the amount of time you spend with your family and doing things you enjoy.”
The perfect balance varies from mum to mum. So, when thinking about work-life balance, the first thing to do is figure out what’s important to you and your family.
Your Happiness Matters
Mums are often the centre of the family, like the heart that beats for everyone. But your heart must beat for you FIRST. If you are run down, exhausted and consumed with stress and guilt, you can’t possibly hold your family together. So, prioritising what matters to you is the opposite of selfish. When you are strong and thriving, so is your family.
Think about what reenergises you – and then schedule it into your week. Whether it’s yoga, a creative pursuit, or a coffee date with a friend, planning something just for yourself each week can have a positive impact on your sense of balance.
Clearly Define Home and Work Life
You’re watching Moana with your kids for the 400th time and your phone pings. It’s a work email. You’re tempted to just take a peek, maybe shoot off a quick reply.
Don’t do it! If we don’t clearly separate our work hours from home hours, we’re constantly pulled between the two. And though mums are praised for being expert-level multi-taskers, researchers say this is nothing to aspire to. In fact, one study found that trying to do two things at once resulted in less productivity, not more.
Is there a special prize for mums who do absolutely everything without help? Actually, yes, there is! It’s called total burnout – and it’s a prize too many of us are winning.
Whether it’s a house cleaner, an ironing service, a meal kit delivery, or buying birthday cakes rather than making them yourself, there are many jobs that can be outsourced.
Emily remembers the year she started buying birthday cakes instead of making them. “When my son was very little, I would stay up until midnight decorating these elaborate cakes. I thought it was a sign of my love. But when I went back to work, I realised baking was the last thing I wanted to do. Last year I spent $150 on a Paw Patrol cake for my son. It was honestly the best investment.”
But outsourcing doesn’t have to mean spending loads either. Buy a supermarket ice cream cake for your kids next birthday and you’ll realise just how easy they are to impress!
Lower Your Standards
Sometimes the shower will go unscrubbed, your child’s last-minute Easter bonnet won’t win a prize, and you’ll order takeout twice in one week. It’s time to reject the quest for perfection and embrace all the living that can happen in its place. Life is to be enjoyed – even if the laundry basket is overflowing.
Share The Load
If you’re drowning under the weight of a never-ending to-do list, it’s time to sit down with your partner and discuss a fair and equitable division of labour.
Gin says, “I work Mondays and Tuesdays. On those days, my husband is responsible for school lunches and getting the kids dressed and out the door on time. It’s such a relief to have two days where I can concentrate on my job knowing that he is in charge of kid-related things.”
If you are unpartnered, reach out to family and friends. Having your child minded for an hour or two each week can provide much needed respite and a chance to just b-r-e-a-t-h-e.
Ask About Flexible Work Hours
Greater flexibility in the workplace is essential for working mums – but it is not often given without you making a specific request. Discuss the options available with your employer. Is there scope for you to work around school drop-offs and pick-ups? Perhaps working from home is possible. Be prepared with a written proposal to support your request.
What about your partner’s work hours? If you can both tweak your hours around the family schedule, this can make work-life balance more attainable for everyone.
Cull Your Circle
A huge friendship group might be fun in your twenties but maintaining this once you’re a working mum is almost impossible. Put your love and energy into those friendships that feel mutually uplifting. Learn to say no when you need to.
Life won’t always go according to what you’ve written in your planner but having a schedule can help you to stay organised. Invest in a family calendar so that your partner knows exactly what is going on. This way, the burden doesn’t rest solely on your shoulders.
Balance is very hard to maintain ALL THE TIME. Kids get sick, the washing piles up, work gets busy. Accept that sometimes the balance will be out – take a breath and reset. Regularly reflect on what’s important to you and tweak as you go.
And remember, work-life balance flows best when you stop to fill your own bucket first.