Achieving the perfect work life balance IS possible – but how?
One of the common topics which comes up frequently when I’m working with professional families, is the difficulties they face around getting the perfect work life balance. One which lets them feel confidence and contentment in these two vastly important areas of their life, at the same time.
Often, when parents first come to see me, they have been struggling to juggle the expectations and responsibilities within these two roles with little success. This is often lead them down that path which has ultimately caused emotional burnout, and crisis points.
By the time they come to me for support they are managing:
- Children who’s emotional needs are heightened through living in stressful environments
- Partners who feel stressed and neglected
- A lack of fulfilment in their career and sometimes difficulties around meeting expectations at work
- A deep and distressing sense of failure and a belief that they should be achieving in all areas
Understandably these parents are unhappy, unfulfilled, and totally confused about how to balance work and life.
When you are raising children and remaining your career, it is essential that some key work takes place to make sure it’s both you and your family know how to manage this choice. And it is a good choice! There is no reason why parents cannot continue with a fulfilling career, whilst raising their children very well. Even having fulfilling relationships, friendships and a life of their own. It is not always easy to create the platform for this success to take place upon, but it is possible to balance work and life, for those who are willing to put in the work.
Let’s break down two main elements off creating this platform for success.
How to balance work and life – firstly, we need to look at expectations.
Are you a parent who believes that they are only successful is everything is in perfect place, at all times? Because if you are, I’m afraid to say it is highly unlikely that you will be able to meet this goal without some support.
In fact the most successful business people and entrepreneurs do you not even attempt to manage their out of work commitments without getting some help.
When I was a single mum, working in a highly stressful job, running schools for vulnerable children with extremely challenging behaviours, the very last thing that I wanted to do when I had time off, was spend it knee deep in washing!
The whole point of me working my way up the corporate ladder to the level I sat, was so that I could give my daughter a better standard of life. I did not see the point in her sitting in her bedroom because I would not had time to spend with her. That was literally the most counter-productive things which could have happened for my family.
So for us to balance work and life, the most sensible option was to hire in so home home help, doing the
tasks which I found the most laborious, time-consuming and soul destroying! This meant that at weekends I was able to spend the time with my daughter, enjoying the spoils of my labour.
Each family will have their issues with how to balance work and life, and their own unique needs. For me it was washing and cleaning, but for you it might mean getting the car cleaned, having meals prepared, getting a gardening done – or maybe even all of them.
There is no shame in outsourcing aspect of your personal responsibilities. You are providing work for another, whilst increasing your availability for your children and making sure you have time to look after you!
The other expectation which I often challenge when working with professional parents, is their belief that they somehow hold on more responsibility than other adult members in their family. Often this will be as a result of the period of time when the children were very young, and the habits that were formed at that time.
At the beginning of this year after reflecting on my work load, running a business, a home and being a parent, I made some changes.
My partner who also runs a business was given the washing, drying and putting away of clothes in its entirety. My daughter, aged 12, was given a list of jobs to choose from and decided that she would take responsibility making sure that our three bathrooms are kept clean. This leads me nicely into the second element needed to create successful work life balance.
How to balance work and life – with Team Ethos
Team ethos within a family is a key strategy for reducing stress on persons who have unfair quantity of the responsibilities placed upon them.
Team ethos isn’t just about different people having different jobs. It is a deeper understanding that all family members are working together towards shared goals.
It means family members not feeling like something is always somebody else’s job.
It is possible to achieve team ethos, and when you successfully have all family members working together you will find a level of connection akin to magic. Just recently whilst I was working in our main living area, I turned to see my daughter with a brush, sweeping up the dog hair which was forming tumbleweeds on the hard floor! Those of you who have long-haired dogs may appreciate how often sweeping is needed!
The beauty of this moment was the fact that nobody had asked her to do this. It was not listed on a chore chart somewhere. There was not a bribe, or financial reward available. She had just noticed that it needed doing, and our family has a team ethos! Meaning that she did not see it as any more my responsibility, than hers. It just needed doing, and she happened to be the one with a moment available to do it!
When you are looking at how to balance work and life, team ethos is something you can start to build. In fact this work can start as soon as your toddlers are old enough to put their toys back in the toy box. There obviously must be age-appropriate tasks, but what you want doing is setting up for the future. Setting in the notion that you are ALL in this together.
To achieve a team ethos it is essential did you challenge the language you use when talking about household responsibilities. How often do you use the word ‘we’? When you say things like ‘I must’, you are reinforcing the message that that is your issue, your responsibility. When we start using the word ‘we’ we create a culture of team ethos. ‘We need to make sure that the dinner is cooked and dishes are cleaned by seven’, suggest to everyone around you it Is not just your job to get the things done.
Another great way to create a team ethos in your family, especially if your children are older, is to allow some choice around responsibilities and tasks. This can be very simply achieved by having a list of all the things they need doing, and then asking each person to choose a number of tasks and take responsibility for ensuring they get done. You will find the children are much more willing to help out around the house when they have some control over how they contribute. Children are very empowered by choice.
Always give your children huge levels of the appreciation for being an active member of your family team, and tell them how the things that they do impact your world. Children will always do more when they can see the results of their work.
How to balance work and life – with routines
When you are trying to figure out how to balance work and life, in a way which provides contentment, you will find the routines are important. For me this is always been an area I have had to work on. I am not naturally a routined person, however I run the a business, the family, a home and have a responsibility to look after myself. This can only happen is there are routines which reduce the amount is thinking I have to do on a daily basis. Where you are bringing in new routines, always create a visual timetable all guide to help your children to understand and accept what happens routinely in your home.
Why is it essential to have support?
Lastly if you are a parent who juggles a professional career with the responsibilities of raising children, and you hit a period of difficulty in life, it is advisable did you seek support that fits your lifestyle. It is not a unknown for me to check in with various professionals who can help me when life throws a curve ball in my direction. I take my own needs as a priority, because if I don’t look after myself I would not be able to continue spinning as many plates as I do. I have a bank of professionals who I know deliver what I need at the times a day that I needed it.
Here is the list other professions that you will regularly see me visiting when I need to.
Osteopath – who supports my physical needs
Reiki healer – for when I find myself becoming overwhelmed
Energy healer – who I see to stay grounded with my spirituality
Business coach – who keeps me working within a healthy business strategy
Mentors – who keep my eyes on the future
All of these professionals understand the need for appointment times which fit with a busy professional. They are people who are very good at what they do, and as a result have me as a consistent client. My life becomes easier for having them in it.
When I work with families, that is always my own mission – that their lives become better for choosing to have me as part of their world.
None of us can do everything alone. If you want to create a lifestyle which includes a career and family, it is essential if you you build your own network of support. Both professionally, and personally.
Finding balance is something which needs a consistent mindful approach – but it is possible!