How do you balance both your family and your job? What about your home, hobbies, friends and more?
Does family and work life balance for women exist and, if so, how can you achieve it?
Hold up a minute. Let’s start from the beginning – what does having a ‘balanced life’ actually mean to you?
There’s a misconception that plays out on social media daily that living a balanced life means you have it all.
You’re the perfect parent, the super-organised woman, the goal hitter and the social butterfly.
Come on though, if anything our lives are getting busier each day and something has to give. Sometimes, all of it. It just isn’t possible to have everything, to be everywhere, to be with everyone.
What Balance really is
Balance isn’t the middle ground between ‘busy’ and ‘bored’. And you’re unlikely to sit back one day and bask in the knowledge that everything in your life has neatly fallen into place and you have IT ALL.
Do you remember when you were a child and would sit on a seesaw with your bestie, both delighted that you’d managed to level it, both elevated equally, legs dangling? Did it stay like that for long? No.
Either one of you wanted to get off to do something else, or maybe your parent told you it was time to go home. Your priorities shifted, you were pulled in a different direction and the balance you’d created was instantly disrupted. One of you may have even fallen off.
Back in real life, as an adult, my definition of what ‘balance’ is has changed. And I do think that finding balance is possible if you’re more realistic about what that means to you now.
Balance, not perfection
This isn’t a cop out – I’m not suggesting that you lower your expectations to the point where finding balance is meaningless and you’re essentially achieving nothing.
I am saying you need to look for balance, not perfection.
What do you ultimately want to achieve in your life? What’s important to you? Is it spending quality time with your family, doing a good job at work, taking time out with your friends, meditating, pursuing a hobby? You can make headway with all of those things. Just not at the same time.
Also, not in the same way that you may have done when you were younger or before you had kids, before that promotion at work or before life got a little less easy and a lot more busy.
If you’re basing your idea of balance today on the life you lived then, it’s just never going to measure up.
What’s important to you now? Is it focusing on one of two areas of your life that are the most important? Or is it being present most of the time for most of the things.
Is being ‘good enough’, enough?
Perhaps for you, balance is less about actively seeking it out and planning for it and simply being more mindful of the moments where it’s already there.
Five minutes spent reading, meditating or doing absolutely nothing.
Asking the kids to wait until you’ve finished your meal before you do the next thing for them. Or at least asking them to wait for five more minutes – let’s not expect miracles!
Reset, reprioritise and recalibrate your life. Where are you now?
I can share with you the family work life balance tips that help me feel like I’m nailing life* but until you work out what’s important to you, how do you know if you’re really achieving your own goals? We all want different things, we all have different circumstances and priorities. One size certainly does not fit all.
When you’ve set some more defined goals on the woman, wife, mother, sister, daughter boss or colleague you want to be, you can start to break down how you’ll set about getting there. Set realistic goals and work out how you’ll measure your success with them.
When you’re doing something, try to focus on that one thing. It’s all too easy as busy people to let our mind wander to the task we’re doing next, or the next place we need to be, or all of the things we might be doing instead of what we’re actually doing right now.
If you’ve made the decision to spend some of your precious time on something, give it the best you can to be there, be present, be in the moment.
When you do move on to the next place, the next person, the next task, be there. Not in the past, not in the future.
A little bit of everything is better than a lot of nothing.
Work out what your priorities are and find your own path to reaching them, bit by bit.
Because if you’re waiting for the day when you ‘have it all’, you’ll be waiting forever.
There’s nothing wrong with being good enough. Shift how you’re defining ‘balance’. I’m not saying to make it easy, but make it important. Stop measuring your achievements now against the successes of your past.
Pat yourself on the back, appreciate yourself, be grateful for what you have and what you’re already doing well.
And yes, be inspired by how others are doing things, being more organised, setting goals and getting the things that you want but bring it back to you, your actual life and the tools you have at your disposal.
Our lives are changing each day and our individual, family and work needs are shifting constantly. We need to continuously reassess to find out what our biggest priorities are and find ways, routines and plans to help us reach them that doesn’t result in us entirely sacrificing everything else. Simply shifting the balance to find out feet again.
Sometimes, things have to give. Sometimes, all of it has to give.
*I am not nailing life. But I’m doing some of what I want, some of the time. Enough to, overall, feel successful and fulfilled rather than deprived or guilty.
To me, this is what balance should be.