Thursday, June 25, 2015

How to achieve the work-life-family balance

Balance is probably every woman’s nightmare. The one recurring question I’ve heard at meetings where successful women were given a platform to speak was how they’ve been able to become successful, keep their homes together, and still manage to crawl out of bed every morning. Why no one asks men the same question is still beyond me, but that’s a topic for another day. The work-family-life balance is indeed a nightmare for women as it sometimes causes them to make life-changing decisions all in a bid to ensure they have the important things on lockdown.
So how can you achieve it? I got some pointers from women with the most nerve-racking jobs who still have time to meet with their friends for dinner every now and then, and still attend to their children’s pressing needs. Here they are:

1.       Choose the right partner! The most valuable lesson I learned from these women is that the kind of person you choose to marry will determine how balanced your life is. A partner who’s wrapped up in his/her own little world, or obsessed with gender roles within the family will probably not be of much help to you when it comes to striking balance. An obsession with gender roles suggests that your partner will not cross into your zone to assist you even if all the boxes around you are falling into bits and pieces. He will not help you clean on weekends, assist with putting the children to bed, or even order takeout for days when you return home exhausted; just like she will not pay a cent towards the family’s financial upkeep because you know, that is your territory. An obsession with gender roles will result in one partner falling beneath the weight of all they are expected to do, while the other partner simply lives in an oblivious zone to these struggles.

2.       Get help…As much as you need. I find it rather interesting these days that women are often made to feel guilty for getting help. People say things like “How can you expect a stranger to raise your children?” or “Will your children ever sing the song ‘sweet mother’ for you and mean it? These statements suggest that to have true balance, a woman must either give up one phase of her life, or suffer beneath the strain of her choices alone. If she wants to be a mother and a career woman, fine! But she shouldn’t complain when the strain breaks her neck. Well, that’s what it sounds like. The option of getting help is often a last resort approach. I learned that it is necessary to get help as soon as you need it. It doesn’t hurt to have a person who comes in once or twice a week to clean the house, and do the laundry. It doesn’t hurt to pick up ready-made meals on your way home to ease the strain of having to cook after a long hard day, and not getting any time to spend with your children or even your husband. It doesn’t hurt to have your children picked up from school by a well-trusted individual who can help them with their homework, while you simply go over it with them after dinner. Getting help does not mean you are weak. It means you are a leader who knows when and why she should delegate. With sufficient help on your side, there’s no reason for your work life, family life or social life should suffer.

3.       Be realistic with yourself. You are not a robot. The more time you spend stressed out, the more drained you become emotionally, and the more your self-esteem takes a big knock. Decide on the things that are truly important to you and focus on them. You don’t have to volunteer to help out with every single event at church if you know you barely have the time as it is, and you don’t have to step up to the plate every single time within the neighborhood to do a bake sale or organize a car wash. Sometimes, we do these things for the wrong reasons- to either make people admire us, or to fulfill our sanctimonious desires. Sometimes, it’s OK to have nothing to do and just spend the weekend resting. Sometimes, it’s OK to send your children on a day excursion to somewhere interesting with the nanny while you bond with your spouse, and just have some fun. It doesn’t paint a bad picture of you, unlike what the world would have you think. It paints a balanced picture of how you understand that everyone in your family needs your attention and they all need a different kind of attention.

You can achieve work-life-family balance if you are open to understanding your limitations and your needs, instead of drowning in the pressure the world believes you should drown in. Any more tips? Do share! XOXO

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