Five Misconceptions That Make Work-Life Balance Unattainable For Working ParentsAug 02, 2021
Even pre-pandemic, most working parents would have said that attempting to achieve a healthy work-life balance is challenging. Now it's even harder.
Working from home during 2020 blurred the lines between our personal and professional lives. As we transition back to the office and a new form of 'hybrid' working, it's more important than ever to make sure boundaries are in place.
There aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything you did before having a child, and yet you are trying to do more. As your child grows and changes, you are constantly adjusting your expectations of what is possible and manageable at home and work.
When was the last time you paused to re-assess your priorities? If you neglect to make the necessary changes to prioritise what is important to you now, it will only result in stress and burnout.
If this sounds like you, we are hosting a FREE Webinar on Managing Work-Life Boundaries on Thursday 12 August 2021, 12:00 CEST. During this webinar, you will gain clarity and tools on how to better manage your work-life boundaries for better results and less stress. Click here to book your seat.
In the meantime, let's bust some common misconceptions to help you navigate this period of re-assessment and adjustment.
1. WORK-LIFE BALANCE IS NOT AN EQUAL BALANCE
You can’t split your attention 50/50. You also cannot give 100% of your attention to work during 9-5 and then 100% of your attention to home life the rest of the day. It is just simply not possible unless you are a robot.
Ditch the assumption that you need to split up your time and attention and energy equally between home and work, and instead try to be flexible and responsive to individual situations. You will usually know when things feel unbalanced and that’s the time to be responsive and make adjustments accordingly.
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2. QUALITY IS KING (NOT QUANTITY)
This next assumption is a natural follow up to the fallacy described above. Parents often fool themselves to believe that when it comes to time with the kids or the family – quantity rules. This puts undue pressure on everyone involved and can often limit you being fully present. How often have you found yourself catching emails or work messages during bedtime stories or taking a “quick call” in the middle of an epic lego tower build?
When it comes to spending time with your children and at work, quality trumps quantity. Instead of feeling guilty about the quantity of time spent, commit your energy to being the best you can be in the time that you have.
A few minutes of quality, relaxed and carefree time with your children is far more valuable than several hours of you feeling stressed and guilty around them. The same applies at work.
3. SHARE THE LOAD
Asking for help and assistance makes you a good parent. Historically we have always raised our children as communities, trading favours and (more recently) sharing lifts to nursery.
Team up with other parents, friends and relatives and try to avoid the “every woman or man for herself” syndrome. Similarly, talk to your boss about any concerns you have and explore the possibility of flexible working hours or an informal or formal working from home arrangement.
4. PRIORITISE YOUR OWN NEEDS
It’s difficult enough juggling work and home priorities, without neglecting yourself and spreading yourself too thin. Pick yourself up from the bottom of the pile and prioritise your own physical, emotional and physical needs.
Make sure you are getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet and taking time out for yourself. It’s not easy but it’s absolutely vital. If you don’t take care of YOU, you will not have enough to go around taking care of others.
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5. STOP FEELING GUILTY
When you choose to combine parenthood and career in any way, shape or form, there will always be trade-offs, sacrifices and compromises. What is crucial to your happiness – as well as your ability to stave off guilt – is reconciling those trade-offs by being crystal clear about why you are making them in the first place.
Create a list of the reasons you work – money, satisfaction, sanity – to provide a helpful reminder of your personal convictions when your work keeps you from attending a concert or compels you to outsource the organization of your child’s birthday party. While I’m often not able to be as involved with my kids’ activities as might seem ideal, I am very clear that my kids, my family and myself are ultimately all better off because I have a rewarding career outside the home.
Accepting that for the most part, good enough is good enough, will take an immense amount of pressure of this whole balancing act. The reality is that you do not have to be a perfect parent to be a great parent. Successful parenting means teaching your children important life lessons and not every moment will be a happy one, but that’s ok. It’s important to raise your children as responsible adults rather than overindulging them to assuage your guilt.
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