WORK/LIFE BALANCE. DOES IT EXIST? 5 LESSONS I HAVE LEARNT
Meetings, coffee, long hours, heels that was my career life. The life that got me out of bed in the morning, the life that I bragged about, the media life that seemed glamorous in my mind. That was until my son was born.
Nothing was going to change things, I would be able to balance everything surely, I mean how hard could it be? Women have ben doing this for years!
I felt that admitting I was a mum to myself was almost losing part of me. It was an instant change the second I stepped back into work after a year of nappies, sleep deprivation, days in PJs covered with spit up – #mumlife!
Reality hit the second I walked back into my old building, it all came crashing down on me in one swoop. Which team does the “part-time mum” get allocated to? Which clients would be willing to work with someone that’s only around sometimes. The year I had taken off felt like I had lost 4 years in my career. After being moved 4 times in the space of 2 months I ended up working under a girl with at least 5 years less experience than I had. I felt deflated, insignificant and just lost!
I had always been a key part of the team. But was I now team career or team family life? I have had many different experiences over the last 5 years, some that I can laugh at and some that still bring me to tears. A rollercoaster is an understatement. I had attended a girls high school with an inspiring female principal who talked a lot about the ‘glass ceiling’ and I never really understood what that meant back then. Today, it has a whole new meaning….
My journey continues, I wanted to share a few things I have learnt and come to accept on this path in the hopes that this will perhaps help someone else out there who may find themselves in a similar situation.
- You win some you lose some – There were going to be meetings that I will miss because I was home with a sick child, and that’s ok! Work knows I have children and they had to know that life can sometimes be unexpected. I cannot feel guilty about that. I distinctly remember being at home with my son who had a 30degree temperature and I had bronchitis and still trying to manage a client phone conference, completely ridiculous in hindsight!
On the flipside, I wouldn’t be able to attend every school reading day, or volunteer for all of the swimming lesson uniform changes. My son now understands that it doesn’t mean I love him any less.
- You are still you – it took me a long time to understand and value my worth as a mother and an employee. I wasn’t any less of the person I was before, if anything I had now learned a new patience, prioritizing needs, and just breathing. I was managing a team of 5, all very different staff members, all with different personalities and needs (a bit like a daycare!). I had compassion when it was required and tough when I needed to be.
- Me time – it’s what dreams are made of! I still need that morning 5 minutes to myself for a tea in the morning. If that means taking a later train to work or even allowing my son his ipad for 5 minutes than so be it! Selfish or not, its what I need to be my best from the get go.
- Good and bad – not everyday will be sunshine and rainbows. There are days I wish I had my wonder woman cape on and could fly to where I needed to be. Sometimes I will let people down, but it can’t be helped so I cannot beat myself up about everything. Will my son hate me for being 5minutes late for pick up, or if I forget that it was silly sock day at school? If I need to reschedule a meeting to be better prepared, will the client mind? Will life go on…YES!
- Lastly, its ok to say NO – I fell into a people-pleaser trap, of always trying to assist others. I would stay back that extra 10mins to help someone else sort out their problem, or over volunteer at school so I felt involved with what was going on. I have learnt to say no. No ensures that I leave on time to race off for school pick up, no to a play date every now and again means I get more one on one time with my son and no to a rigid schedule.
So do I have it all figured out? Hardly, however I am trying my best, everyday is a new day.
*As featured in Little One Magazine online – HERE