Work life balance has such a lovely ring. As a full-time Mom, with a slice of small business on the side, it certainly is what I strive for, but let’s face it, if you’re striving you can bet it doesn’t necessarily come easy. Things were different when I was paid by the hour. The position came with a job description and lunches, the occasional business trip, and of course a regular payday. My current gig, while overwhelmingly rewarding with flexibility, also comes with 24-hour a day obligations, seven days a week. Work life balance? I certainly try…here is a short list of a few conscious efforts I make to achieve a balance of sorts.
1. Read everyday: newspapers, tutorials, blogs, emails, sometimes it is work related, sometimes for pleasure. I like to stay informed. It offers up lots of circumstance for general conversation, decision-making, brainstorming, and creativity for both my small business and the business of being a Mom. It is amazing the inspiration you can find for problem solving in both arenas. Some days I read more than others, but I read everyday, even if it is just a few pages.
2. Join a club/association: I am a member of a local artisans’ guild and I am a member of a monthly book club very aptly named “You don’t have to read the book club”. Both have monthly meetings. Attending these functions forces me to remember how to behave in polite company. This also lends itself to interesting conversation, “Read any good books lately?” I can honestly answer, “Why yes, I have”. Incidentally, just finished “Love Monster” by the local author Missy Marston. It is a great read about love, loss and aliens…bet you didn’t see that last one coming. It is seriously worth checking out. Home grown talent, top-notch read.
3. Screen free time: Between suppertime and the kids’ bedtime I am screen free. No Blackberry, no iPad, no laptop, no television: no screens! It is during this time we gather together to break bread, talk about our day and engage in our children’s bedtime routine. This is my favourite part of the day. The ongoing evolution of our dinner table discussions is endlessly interesting as our children grow. We share stories about our day and our children are learning the art of listening, waiting for their turn to contribute, and actively participating. Afterwards, we clean up together – dishes to the counter please – and finally after pajamas and brushing our teeth, we enjoy a good story. I love the way they snuggle in and listen. This break from the screen allows for uninterrupted quality family time, and a chance for me to recharge before taking on the night shift. There is no end to the day when you work from home.
4. Be good to yourself: This is an incredible age where information is available at the click of a button, but this can be double-edged. There is so much pressure on parents. My Mother was fond of telling me “if you fell off a cliff today, the world would keep on turning”, and while it sounds harsh, it was just her way of teaching me to keep things in perspective. I am my own worst critic and set my own standards, which are high. Sometimes I need to be reminded that whatever is stressing me out is most likely by my own design. Do the best you can do everyday, but if things don’t go exactly as you want there is always a brand new day tomorrow to give it another try.
5. Exercise: There is no question that by taking the time to get moving you will actually find yourself with more productive time. You will feel better physically and mentally. Without getting a blah, blah, blah, lecture, it is worth noting those who exercise regularly are less likely to fall victim to whatever flu bug might be floating around. You are also more likely to be happy, and this in turn also promotes healthiness. My thing is hot yoga. I love it and am firmly committed. This, like screen free time, lends itself to an incredible recharge, to which no cup of coffee can compare.
While I sometimes stumble, going back to these conscious efforts help me regain my footing, and take it all in stride. There are certainly lots of other things that could be added to the list, but these few are part of my core foundation for my daily balancing act. What’s on your list? You know I’d love to read it.