I told you a while ago that I did not think work-life balance existed. I can now without a shadow or doubt say that it does not.
We have all been lied to, hoodwinked, and swindled into thinking that "work life balance" was ever something that we could achieve.
While we can get rid of the term "work life balance", let's try to shift how we think about it---more like work-life integration. We only have one life and our work and our families are both a part of it. We can't balance that because I don't know about you but my family would always win. So we can integrate the two we just have to be careful about how we do it.
The first major step towards work-life integration is to have clear boundaries between work and family. This is not something I have mastered but it makes so much sense. We are far more connected to work than any other generation. There has to be as less spill over as possible between work and family. I had gotten away from doing work at home but slowly but surely it has crept back in. I plan to make a conscious effort to do a better job of planning my work time at work to keep this from happening. I will have to be super focused all the time to maximize my time at work, but I think I can do it--you can too. Think about it: when is the last time you thought something for work was so urgent that you did it at home only to find out the next day that it could have waited? *raises hand* We have to cut this out because then people don't respect our boundaries and will always think that you are on call and we really aren't (unless you are a doctor or something then bless your heart). And when we set these boundaries, as one of my friends would say, you do not need to explain them or repeat why you have them to anyone--ever. And while you are at it, don't feel guilty either. Repeat this to yourself as often as you need to.
Do not explain. Do not repeat--more will be coming on this idea later.
Another key point is sacred family time. This is essential for strengthening relationships and revitalizing ourselves. For me this means truly unplugging from work--not responding to e-mails that pop up on my phone. They can wait until I am back at work. People will learn when they can expect a response from you if you hold firm to your boundaries and sacred times. This may even mean putting the phone/iPad/computer down for a little while too. Maybe start a quarter (or dollar for every time you break or accomplish the goal of keeping sacred family time sacred? That's a real motivator.
All in all, remember wonder woman does not exist and neither does work-life balance!
Ellen Galinsky is my new found she-ro. She is the president and co-founder of the Families and Work Institute and has conducted ground breaking research on working parents and their children (and some other topics as well). If you have heard things like mom's choosing to work hurts a child's development or any other myths of that nature (proven to be far from the truth based on research); this book may be for you. It actually talks at length about the fact that children are actually happier when both parents work--shocker. I think it will give you some real clarity and a new perspective. I plan to read it in it's entirety--so far I have just read snippets. Let me know if you do too.