3 Strategies for Better Work-Life Balance
3 Strategies for Better Work-Life Balance
By Laura McMullan
Alright ladies… who can relate to this? You are a loving, dedicated mother who works inside or outside the home. You have strong intentions to be present with your children while you also have to (or choose to) work. The demands from work require your time, presence, and attention. The demands from home require your time, presence, and attention. These worlds need and want you to be available 100% of the time and yet there is only one you… whew! What is a working mama to do!?
As a working mother of two awesome kids, I definitely do not have the answer for how to create work-life balance. I struggle with this ALL THE TIME.
I struggle with the guilt associated with working away from home. All I want to do is be with my family, yet when I’m home, I feel obligated to get stuff done, which is nearly impossible with a 2 year old and 5 year old. Fortunately, my beloved husband, a bonafide angel, takes care of our kids when I’m at work. This reduces my guilt since they are with Daddy. However, I feel guilty because Daddy does double duty: when I get home, he goes to work, and I take over mothering for the rest of the day. He’s exhausted and has a long night of work ahead of him so I feel guilty. Does it ever go away? (I should re-read our Mom Guilt E-Book ☺ )
Back to the work-life balance thing. I don’t have the answer, but I definitely DO have a couple of helpful strategies.
1. Create a transition from work to home:
It is incredibly helpful to create a transition plan or ritual to mark the end of work time and the beginning family time. For me the transition includes writing tomorrow’s to-do list before leaving work. This helps get all the pending details on paper so I don’t mentally run through my work to-do list over and over again at home.
My mind is free to be present with my family without fear that I will forget something I need to do in the morning.
From there is commute time. The commute from work to home is itself a transition and I’m conscious of this throughout the process. As I walk towards my house I take conscious breaths, releasing the work day and welcoming family time. I have to consciously tell myself “I am now going to be totally present with my family.” I turn the knob of the door and as soon I step into my home, I am in full mommy swing and I love it.
This brings me to the second strategy:
2. Being fully present:
With so many technological gadgets and tools, it is extremely easy to get sucked into technology. I have a personal policy to reduce my engagement with technology as much as possible when I’m with my family. Because I work so much, my time at home with the kids and hubby are prime time precious moments. When I can be fully present in moments with my loved ones, I feel 100% fulfilled. It takes mindful practice to cultivate deep presence, but the benefits are so worth it. After all, our life is really a series of moments so being present for the ones that matter is what it’s all about.
3. Quality over Quantity:
As much as we all wish we could be with the family all the time, the reality is that most of us have to work (or choose to work) whether in or outside the home. This means that our time at home can sometimes feel limited. This is a very hard reality to accept. I struggle so much with this that I even reduced my time at work by 20% because I wanted to have more life-work balance. I wanted to see my kids more so I made that choice. The negative side effect is a substantially reduced income -- a sacrifice that I’m still adjusting to. Regardless of the amount of time I have with my family, it’s been extremely helpful for me to adopt a “Quality over Quantity” perspective. Small moments with loved ones can be satisfying and beneficial when the time is consciously present.
In the end, it is the quality of our time with loved ones that matters the most.
While I definitely do not have the work-life balance figured out yet, I do strive for it consistently. For now, these three strategies have been supportive for me and I hope they support you as well.
If anyone has other tips for cultivating life-work balance, share in the comments.