Riding the Teeter Totter: Work Life Balance

Sometimes I think with working at home, I’ve tipped the teeter totter in the completely opposite direction. Things that never used to faze me like sitting in traffic now totally stress me out. Little stressors have turned into big stressors. Why is that? Is it because I now do not have all that much stress in my life, so what there is gets blown out of proportion? Who knows.

I think one of the hardest things I had to realize in my career is that what I chose to do for work was not so compatible with having a chronic illness. Diabetes does not let you wait until you have that final report in, have handled your client’s emergency crisis or have completed an event. When I have blood sugar problems, I have to take care of them right away. In other words, sometimes I have to come first. If you have a young family or family members with special needs, you may find that certain careers are not compatible with your home life. You are also probably going to find that your work place is not going to help you find a balance between work and home because, for your company, it is all about the bottom line and how much work they can get from you.

So what do you do? You can “side out” into a less demanding career like I did. You can stay in your career and continue to juggle priorities and find hired help to keep your home life running. You can try to divide the work responsibilities among a work team and the home responsibilities with your spouse and kids. However, all of those solutions come with their own issues. It’s hard to find reliable home help that will stay. Team members get sick, burn out, or resent that they are “covering” for you if they are single with no kids. You can’t always divide up home responsibilities evenly with a spouse, and sometimes kids will flat out refuse what you are asking them to do.

There really isn’t one best answer to the work life balance dilemma. The best I can come up with is to live your life deliberately. So what does that mean? It means proactively deciding what IS important to you, not what others think is important. Here’s some examples: When I was in my last undergraduate year at college, I got engaged, because, hey, that’s what you do, isn’t it? It still is the norm in some areas of society, and who was I to go against the norm? But as I approached the end of my time in the ivory tower, I began to think what I wanted. I still did not know what my career would be. I already knew I did not want to have kids. And I already knew what I wanted was in conflict with what my future husband wanted, so I broke off the engagement. I did it again in my early thirties when I saw that getting married wasn’t the solution to the problems of a bi-coastal relationship. Some may call this marriage avoidance. But I tell my friends these were the best marriages I never had because I knew they just were not right for me at the time. Some call this selfishness, but it is living your life with deliberation. Unfortunately, sometimes other people are not going to be happy with this.

Flouting social norms isn’t easy, and while my own examples are rather extreme, you may find trying to live your own life with deliberation, well, rather trying. There’s the mother-in-law who thinks your kids should not be in daycare. There’s the boss who is not going to cut you some slack because you have kids. There’s your spouse’s career needs to take into consideration. No wonder you may feel out of balance. One of the things that may make you feel less crazy is to realize that the changes needed to bring your life back in to balance do not need to be huge. And you also need to realize that your perfect balanced 24 hour day may rarely happen. It may be a balanced week where one day you work late at the office while the spouse feeds the kids and puts them to bed. Another day may be spent relaxing at home with the kids and the spouse in the pool. It is up to you to figure out what is important and how much of it you need.

It get can to the point where it is all work and no play when you work at home, so I am trying to come up with my own bucket list. What do I want to accomplish before I retire, before I die? Hopefully, I will be able to fit it in around the work and other life necessities.

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2 Responses

  1. Or then there is the other extreme…fitting work in around your life (which only syarted for me after not fitting anything around work for 20 years).

    I am totally on board with living life deliberately. Thanks for a great post.

  2. Yikes! What a change.

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