I have hesitated to write this post. Why? Because I’m not sure how realistic this topic is anymore. It’s definitely an important topic, but maybe not practical and certainly extremely complicated for all of us busy working moms. Is it possible to achieve work-life balance for moms? Is it possible to “have it all”?
First of all, I want to define work-life balance in order to understand it better. Balance is an “an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady,” according to Google. So playing off of that definition, work-life balance for moms is the distribution of work and home life’s responsibilities and activities while still allowing her to remain upright and steady (not huddled in the corner in tears) and able to find her joy.
Whew! That’s a tall order for a life, especially the joy part. How many of us are just going through the motions of life out of obligation without truly enjoying any of it? It’s not easy to admit it, but I was that person in the past. I was in survival mode and did what I needed to do for my family out of duty and necessity. However, I wasn’t feeling content or joyful.
I’ve discussed some of my story previously here and here, but want to expand upon it as it applies to work-life balance. In the past, I did a poor job of balancing my life and want to use myself as a cautionary tale to others.
Once upon a time, I had a stressful occupation as a full time animal healer (veterinarian) and came home exhausted both mentally and physically most nights. I was warned of the dangers of compassion fatigue and work-life balance and ignoring my own health, but failed to heed those warnings. I would work all day in the kingdom and then be grumbling and grumpy like a troll at night in my own keep. Needless to say, my family and my health suffered.
Then, a crisis occurred within my kingdom of life. A mystical curse (aka stroke) was placed upon my sire (father) by an evil witch (fate). He was unable to care for himself, so I became his caretaker, along with my other duties. I ended up fighting for my own survival with the witch as I struggled to take care of my father, my work obligations and home responsibilities. Needless to say, my own life imbalances weakened me. Therefore, I lost the battle. The evil witch then cursed me with many sicknesses (adrenal fatigue, candida overgrowth, depression), some of which I’m still battling today.
Obviously, your story is going to be different from mine. However, you may find enough similarities between the two to consider making some changes as I did. I knew I couldn’t continue the cycle of imbalance. I was broken and fragile and not thriving in any aspect of life. It’s difficult to think back to that time, because I have always been a very strong and independent person. I didn’t need any help (LOL). I could take on the world on MY OWN (with shouty capitals)! Except that I forgot one thing- I’m not an island. Many people in my life were just waiting to help me carry some of the load- my husband, daughters, other family, friends, etc. NO ONE is meant to experience this life and all of its responsibilities alone.
Work-life balance for moms
So what exactly does this work-life balance for moms look like? As I was thinking about the many aspects of life that need to be balanced, I realized that the list can be overwhelming: children, family, home, career, hobbies, exercise, nutrition, sleep, play, etc., etc… In addition, work-life balance is not static and can change with your ever-changing priorities.
Your priorities now are most likely completely different from those before you had children. BK (before kids), I was more interested in getting ahead in my career path. I worked long hours and was on call overnight as well. My husband travelled, so I didn’t have an incentive to work less. Now, I’m not willing to be on call and work those long hours anymore. My priorities have shifted to allow me to spend more time home with my family and on those activities that bring me joy.
You might have different goals and priorities than me. What’s crucial is to realize what is most important to YOU. If you’re not sure of your current priorities, my post on how to set priorities can help.
Obviously, someone needs to earn money to pay the bills. I get it. Like it or not, money is a necessity that makes the world go round and makes life more comfortable. However, it doesn’t bring you happiness. Therefore, you need to identify those things that you truly enjoy doing and then find the time to do them. Of course, time is the luxury that a lot of us don’t have enough of. If that is how you feel, my time audit post can help you find more time. Everyone can find an extra 10-15 minutes in their day.
When I hit crisis mode, I was missing the joy, fun and relaxation that we all need in life. I was just doing what I had to do in order to make it through the day, one minute at a time. I was in quicksand, desperately fighting to keep my head up, but being sucked under the more I struggled. My goal is to help you avoid sinking in your own personal quicksand.
Can we have it all?
So back to the question of “having it all.” I honestly don’t think we can have it all at the same time. We can’t focus 100% of our energy on every aspect of our life at the same time in our life. Remember the definition of work-life balance for moms from above? The distribution of work and home responsibilities is NOT going to be equal for each category.
Look at the graphic above and the list under the Life category. That list is not in any particular order. Your list might be in a completely different order than my list and that’s okay! Maybe the neatness of your home isn’t a huge priority, or you don’t feel the need to exercise religiously every single day. Maybe you want to focus more on your career now that your children are older. No judgement here. Do what works for you.
None of you hard-working moms need to be Stepford wives (whether you’re a wife or not). Having it all isn’t about being perfectly dressed with an impeccable home, fabulous job and well-behaved children. It’s about being content with what you have, finding joy in the little things, having the love and support of your family, along with accepting your responsibilities. That is true work-life balance for moms.
Please leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts on work-life balance for moms. What do you struggle with the most? What helps you not only survive the day, but thrive? I read and respond to all comments personally and can’t wait to hear from you!
Joyful thought for the day, “Live and work but do not forget to play, to have fun in life and really enjoy it.” -Eileen Caddy