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The Reality of Having it All: Work-Life Equilibrium

November 24, 2011

By Blessing Oshin (From her blog http://www.workingmomjournal.com)

There is a common topic these days in every women’s conference and its the reality of having it all. Every woman out there wants to know what makes the other woman successful and how they can have it all as well. This month, I spent an entire week with about 6,000 women engineers ranging from top ranked CEO, CIO and Managers to Students. I try to attend this conference every year to network and meet up and rising women in the engineering field. The common theme this year was how to survive motherhood and a vibrant career. Here are some points that resonated with me most.

Don’t Try to Do It ALL

I know a lot of women who love to bake, clean, and crochet. Unfortunately, if your goal is to climb up the corporate ladder, then you may have to give up some of this goal completely. Some women think they can have it all, and they stay up late baking cookies for the boys scout, making candy treats for halloween and drag themselves to work the next day only to find themselves tired and ineffective. The reality is that, your kids don’t care if that halloween treat is handmade or from Walmart, all they care about is some form of candy. And there are going to be days when you cannot cook and would have to order a take-out, actually there will be many of those days and that is just the reality.

Allow Some Imperfection

I am one of those people that picture clutter in my mind and I cannot function when there is clutter somewhere in my house, instead, I jump into action by moving, cleaning and dusting till things look sparkly and clean. But, I am stepping back from that slowly. As a working mother, you may need to let that closet stay messy and instead spend more time with your family. Help your daughter color her drawings, take her to a dance class or spend some quality time with your spouse. It is about time, we let some things slide.

Outsource Non-Value Adding Task

If you cannot get clutter out of your mind like I do, then you may need help. You may need someone to take care of your cleaning, cooking, paperwork, email and appointments. You may need a personal or virtual assistant, and there are many of those in every small town and cities these days, so call and ask your local small business community. Or, you can place an ad in your local newspaper. One of the tips I can give you when looking to outsource household chores is to never mention money in the ads you send out, most people would do it for lesser than what you have in mind.

Align Your Family

If you have not had that talk with your family, then you must do so now. Make sure your spouse and grown kids understand how much energy you want to give your career. And you will be surprised at how understanding our families can be. Be sure to line up enriching after-school programs like music, dance or art classes for the kids, be sure to have your spouse help out when he can, and always say please and thank-you and let them know how grateful you are for being so accommodating. And not to sweep the attention you give your family under the carpet, be sure to carve out time daily with your family. Set a timeline for when you leave for work and when you return and the moment you are home, make yourself one-hundred percent available to their needs. That’s what mother’s are for. And remember, its not how far but how well. If you are a good parent, your kids will turn out great and even more independent than the average kid with a stay-at-home-mom. There is enough research that shows that.

Work-Life Equilibrium

There is no such thing as work-life balance because we don’t usually get that, instead, experts now use the word “equilibrium” which means that you apply pressure (supply) to where you have the most demand. So, if there is a huge deadline at work that you need to meet, then you need to let everyone at home pick up the slacks and focus on that for the day or for the week. Similarly, if you need to take your child to the doctor, spelling-bee competition, dance competition, etc, then you need to let folks at work know that you won’t be available for the afternoon, weekend or however long.

Carve Time For Yourself

Be sure to spend some time with yourself to reflect on your career goal and direction. Spend time with your friends and social activities when you can get away. Keep your friends close, especially those who understand where you are coming from and are in thesame working mom circle as you are. Those kind tend not to judge your choices and instead serve as a support system and give genuine and useful advice.

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