There Is No Such Thing as Work/Life Balance
Life is an ever-changing juggling act that requires self-awareness, flexibility and simply letting go.
Want to know the secret to work/life balance?
Spoiler alert: There is none! Life is an ever-changing, at times messy, juggling act that requires self-awareness, flexibility and simply letting go.
Balance is overrated.
We've all got our things. Whether we choose to work or we must work, part time or full time, have 2 kids or 12, the bottom line is most of us aren't a personified Carol Brady from the Brady Bunch, waking our loved ones up with warm, freshly baked muffins from the oven, with a nice housekeeper named Alice ironing our tablecloths for our kingly dinners.
Here are my key steps to attaining some form of serenity, that was handed down to me from my Sephardic, hard-working mother.
1. Give up balance. Do the best you can with the tools you've got.
2. Make a list of your must-haves.
Getting your kids on the bus, being at work during the day, being at that soccer game, ballet performance and bedtime routine. The Tuesday meeting, the late night Thursday conferences and Sunday morning email catch up.
3. Wherever you find yourself, be present and focus on the task at hand.
4. Develop a routine that your family knows and expects. At work late one night consistently? Come home early the next, consistently and serve ice cream for dinner.
5. Self talk. A lot. Remind yourself that whatever you are doing now is exactly what you should be doing. Nothing more, nothing less.
6. Hire a cleaning lady.
7. Give your kids chores.
8. At times ignore the mess. It is never going to fully go away.
9. Every kid needs a day off, just like we do. Save your day offs for the days they need you.
10. Do things together with your kids.
11. Know your limits.
12. Stop judging your friends and neighbors. Your neighbor goes through stuff you don't know, so if it seems she can't handle it all... she probably can't. Who cares? If you can, make her dinner. Even Wacky Mac.
And then, remind yourself that you can't handle it all either, and the neighbor across the street from you probably does more than you. (Yes, she should bring you dinner too.)
Everyone is doing a lot and there is no magic answer. The secret sauce you find working for today may not work tomorrow and we have to be ready to be flexible and adapt. We are never ready for the next phase in life until it pulls up to our driveway and barges through our door without even knocking.