The Working Mom Challenge: Creating Your Personal Balance
It’s the holy grail for working moms—finding and maintaining a happy balancing act between family and career. The media certainly sees the issue as newsworthy, and delivers lots of information and personal stories on this topic. Many companies have begun addressing these employee challenges by introducing flexible work elements, including reduced hours, telecommuting options and family-friendly policies. But when it comes down to reality, there seems to be no simple formula that applies to all people or workplace situations.
The Wall Street Journal’s life-balance column, “The Juggle”, recently gave some honest advice on this meaningful topic. According to columnist Rachel Emma Silverman, employees shouldn’t wait for their employers to instill a culture of work-life balance. Instead, if you want more time for other pursuits, like family, friends or exercise, you need to take matters into your own hands and set your own life-friendly practices.
Here are three realistic tips to help you and other working parents find that happy medium.
- Separate personal life from work life. Making a clear distinction between your role as mother/friend/daughter and employee will make you more productive during defined work hours and ultimately allow you to be more engaged with your friends and family. For example, politely discourage your mother from calling you about the family reunion during the workday. Offer to call her on your drive to pick the kids up from school. Keep a separate account for personal emails so you don’t get distracted from your proposal deadline by the stream of comments on this week’s soccer tournament.
- Unplug and Engage. In this day and age we tend to make ourselves too available. Set clear boundaries and expectations with your co-workers about your after-hours availability. Become present for your friends and family by leaving the phone and laptop out of reach. If working after hours is a necessity, reboot after the kids are in bed or early in the morning before the household starts humming.
- Find 15 or more “me-minutes” daily. Most of us are over-scheduled and over-extended, so capturing a little down time may seem luxurious or even impossible! But treating yourself to as little as 15 minutes a day of uninterrupted time to pursue hobbies, interest or even just quiet meditation will make a positive difference in your emotional well-being. As one Charlotte mom wrote to us recently, “I arrive 30 minutes early to carpool every day and treat myself to a good book, talk radio or chatting with family or friends by phone. When my daughters get out of school , I am then ready to give them my full attention.”
Regardless of your workplace policies and personal situation, it is important that you find your own path to work-life happiness. What ideas can Mom Corps readers offer on this topic? Will you share your personal secrets for balancing work and family life?