I have hesitated to write this post. Why? Because I’m not sure how realistic this topic is anymore. It’s definitely an important topic, but maybe not practical and certainly extremely complicated for busy moms.
Is it possible to achieve the elusive work-life balance? Is it possible to have it all?
(Special note for you stay-at-home-mamas: First of all, bravo to you for making this choice for you and your family. In addition, I want to make it clear that I’m NOT excluding you with this post. Being a SAHM is one of the hardest jobs in the world, without the financial compensation. Therefore, YOU also need to focus on balance in your own life. So keep reading.)
First of all, I want to define work-life balance in order to understand it better. Balance is an “an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady.”
Therefore, playing off of that definition, work-life balance for moms is the even distribution of life’s responsibilities and activities, while still allowing you to remain upright and steady (not huddled in the corner in tears) and able to thrive.
Whew! That’s a tall order, especially the thrive part. How many of you are just going through the motions of life, out of obligation, without truly enjoying any of it?
It’s not easy to admit it, but I was that person in the past. I was in survival mode and did what I needed to do for my family out of duty and necessity. However, I wasn’t feeling content or joyful.
I’ve discussed some of my story previously here and here, but want to expand upon it as it applies to work-life balance. In the past, I did a poor job of balancing my life and want to use myself as a cautionary tale to others.
Once upon a time, I had a stressful occupation as a full time animal healer (veterinarian) and came home exhausted both mentally and physically most nights. I was warned of the dangers of compassion fatigue and balance and ignoring my own health, but failed to heed those warnings.
I would work all day in the kingdom and then be grumbling and grumpy like a troll at night in my own keep. Needless to say, my family and my health suffered.
Then, a crisis occurred within my kingdom of life. A mystical curse (aka stroke) was placed upon my sire (father) by an evil witch (fate). He was unable to care for himself, so I became his caretaker, along with my other duties. I ended up fighting for my own survival with the witch as I struggled to take care of my father, my work obligations and home responsibilities.
Needless to say, my own life imbalances weakened me. Therefore, I lost the battle. The evil witch then cursed me with many sicknesses, which I had to battle for many years.
Obviously, your story is going to be different from mine. However, you may find enough similarities between the two to consider making some changes as I did. I knew I couldn’t continue the cycle of imbalance. I was broken and fragile and not thriving in any aspect of life.
It’s difficult to think back to that time, because I have always been a very strong and independent person. I thought I didn’t need any help (eye roll). I could take on the world on MY OWN (with shouty capitals)!
Except that I forgot one thing- I’m not an island. Many people in my life were just waiting to help me carry some of the load- my husband, daughters, family, friends. NO ONE is meant to experience this life and all of its responsibilities alone.
Work-life balance for moms
So what exactly does this work-life balance for moms look like? As I was thinking about the many aspects of life that need to be balanced, I realized that the list can be overwhelming: children, family, home, career, hobbies, exercise, nutrition, sleep, play, etc. In addition, balance is not static and can change with your ever-changing priorities.
Your priorities now are most likely completely different from those before you had children. Before kids, I was more interested in getting ahead in my career path. I worked long hours and was on call overnight as well. In addition, my husband travelled, so I didn’t have an incentive to work less.
Now, I’m not willing to be on call and work those long hours anymore. I also have my own business and am much more content. My work doesn’t look the same as it used to. That’s because my priorities have shifted to allow me to spend more time home with my family and on those activities that bring me joy.
You might have different goals and priorities than me. What’s crucial is to realize what is most important to YOU. If you’re not sure of your current priorities, my post on how to set priorities can help.
Obviously, someone needs to earn money to pay the bills. I get it. Like it or not, money is a necessity that makes the world go round and makes life more comfortable. I understand that you might not have the freedom to switch careers, as I did, and want to honor that.
I also understand that, if your job isn’t your passion, it can still be a means to an end. It can pay your bills and still give you the freedom to do what you really love.
Therefore, you need to identify those things that you truly enjoy doing and then find the time to do them. Of course, time is the luxury that a lot of us don’t have enough of. But I know a secret. Everyone can find at least an extra 10-15 minutes in their day.
In the past, when I hit crisis mode, I was missing the joy, fun and relaxation that we all need in life. I was just doing what I had to do in order to make it through the day, one minute at a time. I felt like I was stuck in quicksand, desperately fighting to keep my head up, but being sucked under the more I struggled. My goal is to help you avoid sinking in your own personal quicksand.
Can we have it all?
In short, NO.
I honestly don’t think we can have it all at the same time. We can’t focus 100% of our energy on every aspect of our life, at the same time in our life. “Having it all” is actually a myth, as discussed here.
Remember the definition of work-life balance for moms from above? The distribution of work and home responsibilities is NOT going to be equal for each category.
Look at the graphic above and the list under the Life category. That list is not in any particular order. Your list might be in a completely different order than my list. You might even have completely different items on your list and that’s okay!
Maybe the neatness of your home isn’t a huge priority, or you don’t feel the need to exercise religiously every single day. Maybe you want to focus more on your career. No judgement here. Do what works for you.
You DON’T need to be Stepford wife (whether you’re a wife or not). Having it all isn’t about being perfectly dressed with an impeccable home, fabulous job and well-behaved children. Actually, that ideal is only found on Pinterest, in perfectly curated photos.
Balance is truly about being content with what you have, finding joy in the little things, having the love and support of your family, along with accepting your responsibilities. That is the work-life balance we can all strive for.
Please leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts on finding balance in your life. What do you struggle with the most? What helps you not only survive the day, but thrive? I read and respond to all comments personally and can’t wait to hear from you!
“Live and work but do not forget to play, to have fun in life and really enjoy it.”