The challenge of balancing my Working Life and my Social Life with my Family Life
Working mums are busier than ever in our fast moving working environment. We are trying to juggle the important duties and responsibilities of our working lives with those equally important roles of being a mother and a wife! However, as a working mum I am very lucky to be supported by my hard working husband who is a “stay at home dad”. This makes my work-social life-family life balance much easier than most working mums. But is a successful fine balance an elusive concept for working mums these days?
Often there are working obligations beyond our control. However, the ability to utilize the “home office” flexibility, occasionally, can have many time management benefits. In particular I am able to manage my family time with more flexibility, whilst being able to allocate time to focus on the bigger picture of important issues at work away from the office environment.
People often ask me what is the biggest challenge in my work/life balance, or even if it is humanly possible to achieve the right balance? After all you cannot keep all the people happy all of the time. I believe that I have a special perspective on my work-life balance, due to the successful transition of our roles at home –previously a stay at home mum, now working mum; previously working dad now stay at home dad! I now know exactly how my husband felt for many years; leaving early for work in the morning, and then in the evening, arriving home late, to give the good night kiss to the children just before bedtime.
All work and no play can lead to very dull life. So how to balance?
Communication is the answer. Today’s technology assists us all to be far more efficient with our time management challenges. I make a point of getting all my work done before I leave the office, and when I arrive home I can spend quality time with my family, whilst being aware that my mobile communications can keep me at arm’s length from my company’s important emails. On the one hand, technology makes it easier to work remotely so I can be at home with my children and take phone calls and answer emails. On the other hand, it makes it very difficult to share the responsibility of my children and play with them when I’m getting calls on the handy or urgent emails constantly requiring immediate attention.
Sometimes there are tough choices. Either work comes first or my family.
Take for example this weekend. We have a team building exercise at a mountain retreat with my colleagues from far and wide within the Company. What a golden opportunity to exchange news, views and ideas without any encumbrances of the telephone ringing, or running to the next meeting, or having to rush home to be on time to have my dinner served on the table. On the other hand, during the retreat, will my mind be wandering, wondering how my children are coping with their reading comprehension and Maths homework? And what about the preparations for my daughter’s forthcoming birthday party. You see it’s not that easy.
But I won’t let life be a series of missed opportunities; my life is just a series of grasped opportunities converted into a success story of a happy family life combined with a happy, but challenging role and work ethic. In the end, the team building exercise was a resounding success through the inspirational inclusion of friends and family.
I guess it all comes down to how we want to define work-life balance.
I define it as the ability to work hard and be passionate about your work, but also have time for yourself in your personal life. Yes, there are certain situations where you will have to decide if your work or your family comes first. In these situations, it is important to recall that you cannot keep everybody happy all of the time. But the situation is in your control and you have to be happy with the choices you make.
What it all boils down to is that efficient time management is a combination of having the right team around you at home, and the right team around you at work. How lucky I am to have both.