Let’s go ahead and start this out with what we all know to be the truth: “Work-Life Balance” is a LIE. That’s right; it’s a big old lie. As much as we would all love to be able to achieve this mythical perfection of being able to equally balance our home lives with our careers, unfortunately, life does not work this way. This myth has been perpetuated since the early days of feminism as a goal for women to reach, and was mistakenly brought from the idea that men had this. There was a belief that they were able to balance their families and careers, when in reality, they were able to balance all of this because they had somebody at home to pick up the slack.
This is absolutely NOT to say that you can’t “do it all” as so many of us strive to do. This merely means that you need to understand that managing a corporate career and a family is more of a juggling act than a perfect balance. The first step to helping you manage this is to start writing out your priorities on a weekly and daily basis. Making reasonable weekly goals can help you center yourself and get a handle on your week, and then by transferring this into a daily priority list, you will help yourself stay organized. There are many great day planners that have formatting for this type of planning, or if you prefer an electronic presence, there are a lot of great apps for your phone that have similar functions. Make this the first thing you do in the morning when you get into work, and you’ll notice a difference quickly.
Installing a metaphorical “firewall” into your life is a great next step. Logistically, this will look differently for everybody, but a good place to start is to put up your electronic work devices (phone and laptop) as soon as you get home to create a safe zone. Make sure that your coworkers know about this firewall as well, especially if they have your personal cell phone number. It’s absolutely okay to state that while you have no problem with them sending you a funny meme on personal time (depending on your relationships with your coworkers of course), you will only discuss shop during business hours. There may, of course, be some exceptions to this, such as pressing deadlines and when you’re traveling for business – or even if you are trying to get ahead so you can leave early for a child’s play at school. The important thing is to make sure you are not available 100% of the time.
This “firewall” naturally leads us to scheduling time out. Schedule time out from both working and from parenting. It’s important to take time to be you, and remember that it’s okay to take time to be yourself even with working full time. You were an entire person with interests and hobbies before you had your children, and you should continue to be that person as a mom. If exercise is something that is important for you, schedule time out in your way to fit that in. Whatever it is that you do that makes you feel like you, whether it be hanging out with friends, reading a book, or just going on a walk alone – make sure to make the time to do it. By scheduling this time on your calendar, you will be forced to actually do it instead of getting to the end of the week and realizing you never had time for yourself. And remember, this is a constantly changing scale, so it’s okay if some things slide some days. Pick yourself up, remember that you are an amazing mom who is doing amazing things, and use these tips to try again tomorrow. You’ve got this.