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The Pursuit of Balance May Be Elusive

Started by Nicole , author of Moments that Define Life — Defining Moments 5/23/2012 7:00:10 AM

I have come to the conclusion that when it comes to life as a working mother and the idea of balance, it may just be elusive. We simply can't do it all each and every day and we shouldn't give ourselves a hard time when it doesn't happen, because to put it quite simply, it will drive us to insanity.

What we should try to do is make strides to do our best to be present for those that we love and to chip away at our goals and aspirations in the midst of all of that, and let the former trump the latter. What we should try to do each day is maintain focus on what is most important and realize that compromise will be necessary. Realize that perfection will not be the norm and that dishes in the sink are ok if you are cuddling with your daughter at bedtime instead. What we should realize is that our Facebook status does not need to be updated just because our kid did something cute, it is more important to be present in that moment with them than to Instagram the photo - a valid point made from another online friend of mine recently that I plan to take to heart. It is far more important to gaze into the eyes of my daughter than it is to gaze into the screen of my iPhone.

From my perspective, there are days where I hit it out of the park in the "balancing it all" department and there are days where I fail epically and it seems more recently, the balance shift has become even more difficult for me since I became a part-time work at home mom. I find that my laundry piles get bigger (and stay that way longer) and I'm on my computer late into the night some evenings so I can complete my work, because I didn't get up quite early enough or the two hour nap didn't quite happen. But that's become my compromise so I can work from home, because I like to work and it helps my family meet our financial needs. I work nights so I can play in the back yard with my daughters in the afternoon and I wait until the weekends to tackle laundry so the husband and I can hammer it out tag-team style.

I don't think there is a clear cut answer to the "balance" question because work-life balance truly is an evolving process and I can say from experience that I am constantly reevaluating where I put my energy. I'm always looking at whether what I'm doing is worth the time I spend away from my girls. Ultimately, we have to do what's best for the family as a whole and sometimes that means working to help support that family or working towards a personal goal, or both. At the end of the day if we communicate openly to our children as we navigate through our working life they will understand. Additionally, if we make sure they get the time, love and affection they need and deserve, then they will have no doubt that our hearts are with them and we will have no doubt that they understand and that their hearts are with us...

I’ve noticed how women so often feel caught between their interests in family life and their creative or career aspirations. I wonder if it has to be this way. What would have to change—in your life, in people’s attitudes, or in our society—for women to have an easier time managing work-life balance? Share your answer below and like Smarter Life Better Planet on Facebook to be entered to win a Haier microwave for your family along with an additional microwave to be donated to the Food Bank for New York City!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Haier. The opinions and text are all mine. Official Contest Rules.

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Reply by Dumb Mom

author of Parenting by Dummies 5/23/2012 7:39:05 AM
Dad has to help more! Maybe that's not all of it, but I feel like the expectation in our house is always for me to be the one to put work and everything else aside for the family needs. Probably that's because I do it and I feel guilty if I don't, but it would be awesome if there was a time when it wasn't just expected! I think it would make moms feel more appreciated too.

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Reply by Arnebya

author of What Now and Why 5/23/2012 9:40:47 AM
I oftentimes feel like I have to choose between my job and my family. I usually have NO PTO b/c I have to go on field trips, one kid has a sports game/pickup time change, and/or one kid is sick. If employees weren't made to feel like having a family were a drawback in employment, perhaps work-life balance would be more easily attainable. I feel bad when I leave work early, especially if I haven't finished a project. This could be alleviated by offering the work from home option (many companies, mine included, do not offer this). But I also need understanding from my employer that my family is my first priority. Feeling bad about work makes me grumpy at home and feeling bad about missing yet another performance at school makes me grumpy at work.

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Reply by angie

author of sevenclowncircus.com 5/23/2012 10:40:51 AM
I think that finding the balance is elusive as well. Somedays are definite epic fails for me as well. I've found that I have to learn to say no to extras that I shouldn't take on and flexibility always helps!

You are right Arnebya - supportive employers makes all the difference in the world. Feeling conflicted makes it so much harder to make it all work. Such great points!


Arnebya's profile picture
Arnebya said ...
I oftentimes feel like I have to choose between my job and my family. I usually have NO PTO b/c I have to go on field trips, one kid has a sports game/pickup time change, and/or one kid is sick. If employees weren't made to feel like having a family were a drawback in employment, perhaps work-life balance would be more easily attainable. I feel bad when I leave work early, especially if I haven't finished a project. This could be alleviated by offering the work from home option (many companies, mine included, do not offer this). But I also need understanding from my employer that my family is my first priority. Feeling bad about work makes me grumpy at home and feeling bad about missing yet another performance at school makes me grumpy at work.


I think the balancing of roles between parents is evolving in a more positive direction. It's sometimes at a snails pace, but I do see a shift for sure. Especially with more and more women taking on the role of working mother and some becoming the primary breadwinner in the home. There has to be a shift. A happy wife make a happy life, no? :-) 

Dumb Mom's profile picture
Dumb Mom said ...
Dad has to help more! Maybe that's not all of it, but I feel like the expectation in our house is always for me to be the one to put work and everything else aside for the family needs. Probably that's because I do it and I feel guilty if I don't, but it would be awesome if there was a time when it wasn't just expected! I think it would make moms feel more appreciated too.


Yes! Knowing that saying "no" is ok sometimes is important. It's hard to do that at times because we don't want to miss out on something with our kids or lose out on a professional opportunity - its so tough. But, I think it is important to really think hard about what you say "yes" to. Great point!

angie's profile picture
angie said ...
I think that finding the balance is elusive as well. Somedays are definite epic fails for me as well. I've found that I have to learn to say no to extras that I shouldn't take on and flexibility always helps!


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Reply by Megan

author of Sunshine Wonderland 5/23/2012 12:18:29 PM
I think that I have to always prioritize family first because that is my main job (I stay at home) and that I can't prioritize work as much. If I was able to prioritize it more I think I would be able to balance better instead of shoving it in between other obligations.

I really am not looking for something to change externally in order for me to maintain my work-life balance. That balance is just like the balance I try to reach while doing a tough yoga pose.... you have to constantly wiggle a bit and adjust. It is never completely steady! I am adjusting my life constantly- every single day something shifts a bit to accommodate something else. But I do try hard to live in the moment- and not just try to capture the memory... but really be there and be present. And when the clock strikes 3 each day.... my work life has to shut down when the kids get off of the school bus. (Of course it can alls tart up again once the head to bed!)

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Reply by Mindi

author of Simply Stavish 5/24/2012 10:22:46 PM
Ever since having baby number 2 I have let my house go a bit more than I would like but the compromise is having Thursdays as a mommy and kid day out. No cell phone just being with them and having fun. Sometimes we stay around he neighborhood, other times we do fun things like go to the beach! A year and a half ago I cut my work hours down to 32 hours to have that extra day and love it. It is hard financially at this point but we do what we can because it keeps me sane and happy. I would love to cut back on my work hours even more outside of the home but at this point it's not possible.

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Reply by nicole

author of Modern Style Mama 5/29/2012 11:13:16 AM
I can completely relate. I find that finding a work-life balance is elusive also. I succeed sometimes and fail miserably other days. I want to be present for my children but I also feel it's important to stimulate my mind to stay balanced within. Compromise and awareness of what is needed at a given time is very important. I think in order for women to have a better work-life balance there has to be a mutual understanding in the home between parents. There has to be more of a tag time approach to parenting and taking care of the home. Expectations need to be lowered. There is no Supermom who can do it all without being completely overwhelmed and burnout. Compromise and having a feasible work-life schedule. So many families are overextended with professional obligations and with children activities.

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