I get asked this question a lot - so I thought I would share my thoughts. I can only speak to my personal experiences but am confident that this applies to ALL parents and guardians.
We shouldn’t even have to have this conversation. Of course, we should be able to invest in both our families and careers. But unfortunately, in the world we live in, that is challenging to do. Our society puts pressure on us as women to be it all. No matter what we do, we are conditioned to feel guilty and stressed, that we’re not being enough or doing enough.
But it’s possible for these pressures to NOT get the best of us. We can prove society’s expectations wrong. We can actually pull it off. We can crush it as both a mom and as a professional if we figure out some systems that allow us to stay grounded, yet fluid.
I’m not saying it’s easy, but it is totally possible to be present with your family while you’re chasing your career dreams. It’s all part of your Purposeful Hustle. We got this!
This is something I’ve worked really hard to get better at over time and trust me, I have DEFINITELY failed. As women, mothers, and professionals, we should look out for each other and lift each other up when we can. So if anyone is struggling with balancing family and work, I hope that maybe sharing my mistakes and lessons will make you feel like you’re not alone. This is an art we’re all perfecting, and there are steps we can take to make it work.
Harmony not balance
First of all, it has been SO important to me to realize that balance is not what we are striving for. Harmony is. It’s easy to get off balance, but harmony is about finding what works best for you and your family. It’s more fluid. It’s more forgiving. It ebbs and flows, and it feels grounding. It’s trusting what feels good, and staying disciplined to that. Harmony is a way to frame your goal so it’s more achievable and not another source of stress.
Schedule, schedule, schedule!
I have learned to be very intentional about family time. I schedule family time BEFORE work time, and it has made all the difference in the world. I block in time for everything to get done, but I do so around my family’s schedule.
Some specific examples:
I have certain times that I will be TOTALLY shut down and off the grid. I don’t use my phone at all. I communicate these times to my team or anyone who would need to know beforehand.
I only go to ONE after work event per week. If for some reason I go to more than one event after work one week, then I will not go to any the following week. Though it is important to network, stay connected to the community, and support others’ work, this time can add up and make us feel overwhelmed by work life and distant from our family. Evening time is so important!
I will try to minimize my travel to 1 night away if I can.
I take my kids on dates. It gives me that one-on-one time that I crave and that they crave, and it makes our time together more meaningful. The quality of family time is just as important, if not much more so, than the quantity of time spent together. One-on-one time allows my kids to know that I am there for them, and they have the space to talk to me about whatever they want.
At the beginning of the year, I carve out my family time, vacations, date nights, no work days, etc. for the entire year, and I keep to those pretty tightly. If it’s on your calendar beforehand, then you are more likely to keep that time set aside. Otherwise, it’s WAY too easy to fill up our calendars with work-related activities and then feel like we have no time with our families.
In addition to scheduling family time, I schedule family-related chore time because I’ve found that that is time that gets lost.
These are some ways that I schedule chores:
I make the first 30-45 minutes that I am moving around after I get out of bed as the time to do the family administrative tasks that I have. This has helped me alleviate a lot of stress because I was trying to do all of that stuff in the MIDDLE of everything else and it was not getting done or not done well. I would HIGHLY recommend finding a consistent time set aside every day to do those family admin things. Another time that has worked well for me is to sit with my kids while they do their homework, and we can work together.
I’ve developed some systems that work well for our family and give me some consistency so I know stuff will get done. For example, I only do mail and bills on Saturday mornings. I do laundry on Wednesday or on Saturday and fold on Thursday or Sunday, etc. Finding a routine of when you accomplish household tasks will help you work them into your work schedule, and they won’t feel as daunting. It will just become a habit and less of an inconvenience.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
That being said, there have been so many times when I’ve had to reach out to my husband, my family and even professionals to help me manage my house and my career. Don’t be afraid to do this!! We are not meant to do this all on our own. Communicating with our families and our work teams about our needs, our bandwidth, and what we can handle is so important. It is not weak. It allows us to do all of our work well.
There was a time when I had hired someone to clean our house, I was doing all of my food shopping online, I had someone who would spend 1-2 hours/week running errands for me, AND we had a nanny for five years. That all sounds expensive, and I realize that it was a total luxury. BUT every dollar we spent on those things were so helpful at allowing me to keep my sanity. And because we only pulled in things when we needed them, it was not a constant commitment of money. There is not a magic formula to add more hours to the day. Sometimes we need plain old logistical help to make it all happen, and if it’s within your means, it is not weak to do so.
If you have any tips for how you find harmony in your home and work life, please share them! We are in this Purposeful Hustle together.