The “Balance” Between Work and Life

excerpted from the book, Mom, Incorporated

We’ve talked about time issues and money issues in our book, but what about those elusive “balance” issues? Right now, you might be waiting for us to swing down from the heavens with the SECRET to Work/Life Balance. So here it is . . .

 Our Balance (READ: PEACEFUL) Wisdom:

There is no such thing as perfect balance – and the sooner you embrace that fact, the more balanced you will feel.

Some days, some hours, some minutes, you will be a STELLAR Mom. And other days, hours and minutes, you will EXCEL as a Business Owner. You will rarely, if ever, be extraordinary at both at the very same time. Why? It is impossible to read your child her favorite story, help with homework, or cheer at a soccer game at the same time as you are answering a client call, responding to an e-mail, or writing a press release. Something has got to give.

 And, THAT IS OK. Say it with us: THAT IS OK.

You need to set aside time for work and time for family — and don’t forget the time you need to set aside for yourself. Will things always line up according to your plans? No, most likely not. But having a plan in place can help you to feel a little more sane and in control. 

“The only way I ever feel any sense of balance at all is by embracing the chaotic imbalance that is motherhood. Just acceptance, I guess, that I can’t be and do it all and that’s OK. I can do a lot of things well, and when I relax into imbalance, I usually end up getting more done . . . more peacefully.” —Heather Westberg King, author of The Extraordinary Ordinary

Danielle on balance:

For the longest time, the word “balance” felt like a bad word to me. I was certain there was a secret handshake — a code word even — that allowed only the most special of mothers into the mythical world of balance. I was certain if I could just be strong enough, smart enough, organized enough, I would crack the code. But it wasn’t happening. And the only success I saw was the successful failure to balance my work and home lives. Until one day it hit me: Balance is impossible.

Balance is a myth. At least, based on the definition we were being fed by society. It was — and it IS — impossible for me to be everything to everyone, every day. So I stopped trying. And I realized that giving my family my full attention when I am with them is the most important thing I can do. And giving my work my greatest effort when I’m in business mode is also important. So now, I’m at peace. Most of the time

Aliza on balance:

I’ve pretty much thrown the word — and concept — of “balance” out the window. I prefer to refer to it as a “juggle,” as in “work/life juggle.” To me, juggling is a perfect analogy for having to toggle back and forth between family and clients, between housework and project work. Like the expression “having many plates in the air,” I feel that you can only juggle so many things before you drop something.

So the way I handle the “work/life juggle” is to pay close attention to what I’m juggling and to keep the number of things I juggle down to a manageable size. I keep rechecking my To Do list not just to see what I’ve been able to do and what is still outstanding, but also to look deeper and ask myself, “Am I overcommitting myself?”

If you know anything about being a Type A overachiever, you know how hard it is to say “no” to requests or to admit you can’t do something. Trust me, if you say “no” more often and reduce the number of plates you have to keep in the air, you’ll get more done with less stress.

I also like the way Danielle talks about putting full attention to family when she is with her family and full attention to work when she is in work mode. That is something I’ve been working hard on because I know that my mind is not at its peak performance when divided between work and family. Even if you are a master at multitasking, you aren’t really doing your absolute best when your attention is broken down to serve many things at once.

What are your thoughts on the concept of “Work/Life Balance?”

Read more in our book Mom, Incorporated.

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