I believe that all parents are working parents, but in the spirit of the day, I plan to share with you a little about my experience as a parent who works outside of the home in a career that I love and derive a lot of meaning and purpose in. I’ve been a work-outside-of-the-home mother for as long as I have been a mother, and as a small business owner over the previous eight years, my business has been another baby of sorts.
I don’t know a time where I haven’t been juggling both of these roles (alongside many others!). There have been times in my career when I have worked full-time, very full-time, extremely full-time, and less full-time and each of these seasons has come with its unique benefits and challenges.
No matter how many hours per week I find myself giving to my career or to my business, what has been the common thread throughout the time that I’ve been both parenting and career-focused is that I almost always feel inadequate in one role or the other (and often, both!). When I’m at work, I’m often thinking about my family and related responsibilities. And when I’m at home, I’m often thinking about work and those related responsibilities. It is so difficult to be fully present in one area no matter which one I’m in.
The “Right” Work/Life Balance is a Myth
It seems as if mothers are continuously being bombarded with messages of “finding balance” in our work and home lives. If we can’t find this elusive balance, well…there must be something wrong with how we’re doing it, right? It must mean we haven’t quite figured out the steps to this delicate dance, but we should keep trying and striving for it. What does balance even mean? Does it look the same for you as it does for me? How do we know when we get there? I’ve wrestled with all of these questions and haven’t seemed to find just that right mix.
Here’s what I’ve decided. There is no right balance, and I’m working on adopting a different approach. Juggling these areas of my life has become less like “balance” and more like “turn-taking.” There are some days/weeks/months/years where my career has taken up a lot of space and time, and yes, space and time away from my family. And there are days/weeks/months/years where my family takes up more time and leaves less space for work. And I remind myself that as long as I’m bringing conscious awareness and intention to the needs of all involved parties, either of those things can be okay.
I tend to see things in seasons and focus on the big picture of life, as finding a daily “balance” is darn near impossible…I am only setting myself up for failure if I think I’m going to find balance in the short-term. So, over the long-term as I work to juggle multiple priorities, everything gets its turn.
So, on this Working Parents Day, I encourage you to challenge the way that you think about and approach work/life balance. What is working for you? What isn’t working for you? Tell us more in the comments!
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