With each passing year, it seems as though the task of balancing one’s workload and life outside the office gets significantly more challenging. Remote working capabilities have it easier to travel and experience the world while making an income, while subsequently making it harder to unplug at the end of the day.
For women, the challenge is compounded by the fact that they are often responsible for much of the goings on at home while working or take time off to care for children, causing more of a work-life conflict.
Is there such a thing as work-life balance for women? For any of us? Here are a few insights into the women work life balance debacle, and how women can empower themselves to take action and create balance for themselves.
Work-Life Balance: Fact or Fiction?
There’s no black and white answer to whether the potential for work-life balance exists. When you go to work in the morning, the outcome of your day-- your mood, productivity, and success-- can be drastically impacted by at-home factors, like lack of sleep caused by a teething infant or an argument with a spouse before commuting. On the other side of the spectrum, a great or terrible day at the office causes an emotional reaction that can impact how you interact with your kids and partner. Who you are and what you value shapes your career goals, while your career path might impact your social life, relationships, and even your physical and psychological health.
With all things being considered, there are still ways to add balance and create boundaries between your work and personal life, even for women who are working hard to pursue their career goals.
Creating Balance with a Family
One of the biggest challenges women face when trying to instill work-life balance practices is how to be present in their children’s lives while pursuing their personal goals. It’s no secret that in many cases a mother’s goals get sacrificed to care for her family. Here are a few ways women entrepreneurs and working mothers with families can create balance:
Create Your Own Definition of Success and Balance
Balance, like success, is not a one-size-fits-all concept. What feels balanced to you may feel too relaxed or too chaotic to someone else. What success means to you could be completely different from your best friend or co-worker’s definition. Furthermore, your definition might be different as your life changes: 28-year-old you might view success and balance very differently from 44-year-old you.
Take time to create your definition of success and balance. Think about your values and write down what you need to be happy in all areas.
Become a Time Management Goddess
When it comes to managing your time to find balance, you must be brutally efficient. Take a good, hard look at how you’re spending your spare time. If you feel as though you lack time for self-care, yet find yourself scrolling through social media for an hour every evening, make a change.
Conduct an audit of your time; how much are you wasting? Create a model week which outlines tasks you must complete, from work to spending time with family, blocking out your time accordingly to fit in both your responsibilities and recreational activities. Set your business hours, and refuse to engage in work activities (such as checking emails) after a certain hour.
Outsource and Work with a Professional
To create more balance, you must let go of the notion that you have to handle everything yourself. Working with a coach or mentor who can help direct your course and provide accountability for your actions can make a significant impact on your overall success.
Women, in particular, feel as though they should be able to handle things themselves rather than paying for help. Whether it pertains to hiring a housekeeper, outsourcing administrative work to an assistant or developing an action plan to achieve your defined success, getting help does not diminish your value. In fact, it optimizes your opportunity cost-- the perceived cost of committing to a time that could be spent doing something better.
Let Go of the Guilt
Working mothers often feel guilty or selfish for pursuing their dreams and goals. It’s time to let that feeling go. Your children will be happy to see you chase your dreams and inspired to chase their own. They will see that while your role as a mother is important, it is not the only aspect of your personality who makes you who you are. Using child care while you are at work does not make you a bad mother.
While traditional gender roles remain strong when it comes to facing a work-life conflict, men and women are steadily transitioning into areas of greater balance. More men are taking parental leave to care for children while women are working, and more women are becoming the main provider. This sharing of responsibilities makes for happier families across the board.
Prioritize Quality Over Quantity
If you have a limited amount of time with which to practice self-care or spend time with your family, make it count. Create high-quality experiences and lasting memories. Do things that will cause you to look back and feel satisfied with the way you spent your time. This applies to work, life, and everything in between.
As the adage says, imagine someone deposits $86,400 into your account at midnight. If you don’t use it, it expires the next day. How would you spend it? The same applies to time: you have 86,400 seconds each day of your life. Spend them wisely.
The Balancing Act
The Bloom Development Approach looks at all areas of one’s existence, from relationships to professional goals to mental health and wellness. Every aspect of one’s life impacts the different areas, even those that don’t seem to be related.
As a woman, you can find a positive work-life balance, but know this: no one is going to give it to you; you must advocate for yourself. Your personal life matters. Your health and well-being matters. Working women, stay-at-home moms, full-time employees, and women entrepreneurs all matter. It’s time to make a change and eliminate your work-life balance issues once and for all.
Meredith Wailes is the president of Bloom Leadership, founder of SEED, and an advisor and builder of women who impact social change. Contact her via Bloomleaders.com or connect on LinkedIn to see how she can help you.