As promised, we are talking about work-life balance this week, an area I believe that most of us, especially working parents, struggle with. For years, I have heard from parents who are frustrated at themselves, spinning their wheels because they can’t achieve this “balance.” If you have been following me on Instagram, you know that recently I have put many of my work projects on hold to support one of my daughters who has been struggling with anxiety and a specific phobia that prevented her from attending school regularly. It has made me rethink this idea of balance.
Balance as we are taught, in my mind, does not exist. The idea that we should be checking several boxes a day between work, family, self-care, and enjoyment is a feat very few of us achieve daily. And when other people’s lives depend on yours—be it kids, a spouse, or elderly family members—it is likely their needs and issues don’t fall into the carefully designated free blocks in your schedule, if you even have free blocks.
Can we release this idea that we need to do it all and do it all well all the time? I don’t believe that is humanly possible. There are going to be days that you crush it at work but have no family time, or you have highlights in your parenting but fall behind at work—THAT IS NORMAL and actually how many of us experience life.
I like to think of it as a work-life flow. Sometimes one area of life needs to be the focal point—the demands in that area necessitate more time than others. In that case, we give and flow into that area. Work may be particularly demanding this season with a lot of travel or projects due. Family may need extra support in this season, so we expend much time and energy there. This may create a drought in another important area. We cannot give 100% of ourselves everywhere all the time. The important thing is to note where the drought is and circle back to that area later to fill it.
The Long Game
Think of balance or work-life flow as a long game—a marathon, not a sprint—and assess your needs over a week, or a month, and sometimes several months.
Here are some tips to help:
Ask yourself each day what do you need today? Needs may vary day to day, so it’s important to check in and decide what you need on any given day.
Is there anything I can say NO to?
We often spend time doing things that are unfulfilling or out of obligation. Saying "No" to something is inadvertently saying "Yes" to something more important.
What do work boundaries look like for you? Do you have a time you put away the phone or laptop? When can you shut it off to rest?
Quality over quantity:
Are you intentionally present when you do have time with loved ones? What do you need to do to be present during those time? Perhaps it involves removing a device. Choose a few specific moments this week to be intentionally present.
What do you do to recharge? Is there anything in your life that sparks joy? Have you scheduled time for this? Even 15 minutes a day of something you love can create a bit of much-needed balance. Reading a good book, a walk or coffee with a friend, or a morning devotional with a few minutes of silence, prayer, or journaling can change the course of your day.
I will be talking more about work-life flow and how to achieve it. I also give talks and lead workshops on this, so if that is of interest for your organization, please fill out this form, and we will reach out to you.
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