The concept of work/life balance is a bit of a misnomer. When most of us think of work/life balance, we envision a life where everything is equal. We have just the right amount of time to do everything we need to get done. Our houses are spotless, our family meals are deliciously homemade and healthy, we have plenty of quality time with our children, are able to attend every important academic and sporting event, have plenty of time for our spouses and our friends, we exercise daily, have time for hobbies, and also have time for a fulfilling career.
If this seems like an unattainable scenario to you, that’s because it is. I have been a working mom for over 18 years and spent a good part of those years as a single working mom. For me, work/life balance is more of a balancing act, yet is a topic that shouldn’t be ignored. It is also not a topic isolated to gender or working parents. We ALL have many competing priorities and responsibilities and finding a way to integrate these priorities as effectively as possible is the key to making it all work.
The first thing we should all realize is we shouldn’t strive for perfection and will never have all of the time we would wish for to do all of the things that give us joy. I could never have enough time for my kids, there always seems to be more work to do and I have yet to figure out a way to be in two or more places at once.
Yet, the key to finding balance is about figuring out what is important to you and finding a way to incorporate these activities into your life. Understanding what is important to you beyond the daily to-do lists and family and career obligations is important, too. What feeds your soul? Is it time spent with friends, reading, or exercising? Making those activities which feed your soul and recharge you a priority is important in effective work/life integration.
Doing the best we can, without judgment, to take care of ourselves and feed our souls outside of work enables us to lead more effectively. Knowing what feeds us and being sure to incorporate what is most important to us into our routines is the key to living a happy, vibrant life – and a powerful example to set for the next generation.