balance. According to dictionary.com it is a state of equilibrium or equipoise; equal distribution of weight, amount, etc. As working parents, we are constantly hearing about having “work/life balance”.
When I first became a mom five years ago, I too thought this was the goal I was striving for. I have since learned that is not what I really want. I don’t want to have to constantly feel like I have to give equal weight or equal importance to each portion of my life. To me, I would rather invest 110% of my energy, attention, and creativity into each aspect as I have time. To me, it’s about juggling and focus. Juggling means that everything is moving, and in life, it’s all about the motion.
When I am with my kids, I want to give them all my attention and focus. I may not have the opportunity to stay home with them every day, all day, but I do have the opportunity to give them my full and undivided attention when I am with them. I read to them, play games with them, make creative art projects with them. The key is being “with” them and they know it.
When I am at work, I give my full attention to the work at hand. I have also learned that working in a professional services environment often means working overtime. I find that waking up before the children are up so I can work in a quiet environment is ideal. I can also work after they have been tucked into bed.
I was not good at juggling when the twins were first born. But, through trial and error and suggestions from many working parents, I have evolved my system over the years and have learned some valuable tips:
- Make time with your child where you are not connected via computer, blackberry, text, etc.
- Plan special activities that challenge your child artistically. This will also help you focus attention on the child and the activity.
- Find a trusted caregiver for your child whether it’s a preschool, certified daycare, church, etc. This will help you focus while at work. You won’t worry about the child throughout the day because you have done the due diligence up front to ensure they are in a safe environment.
- Talk with your supervisor about expectations for overtime and how those expectations can be met.
- When possible, ask your employer about flexible work arrangements. This can include reduced hours/reduced pay, working from home at times, compressed work week, and other creative options.
- If working from home, make sure to have someone available to care for the child or children while you work.
- Leave work at work. Try not to come home every night and still be dwelling on the issues from the work day.
- Don’t forget about yourself and your needs. Parents often sacrifice their own interests for family. Be creative about how you incorporate your interest into “family time”. For example, I love to scrapbook. I take my kids with me to the scrapbook store and buy albums and stickers for them. When I make time to scrapbook (about once a week), they join me with their scrapbook supplies and we have a great time. I still have a creative outlet and they are getting quality time with me.
Chidren are only young for a short time. Time passes so quickly so do your best to enjoy it.