The Work-Life Balance
Several people have asked me to blog about how I balance work and family, but I’m NOT an expert in this. In fact, I feel like a failure at it almost everyday. Today, for instance. We’re on a family vacation but I’ve put in work time every night (not easy after a long day of skiing, relaxing in the hot tub and drinking a glass of wine).
But I think “the balance” is an important topic, especially for writers, because most of you are writing at home with all the distractions of spouses, children, and wayward washing machines; and many of you are also dealing with a full-time job in the equation. It’s not an easy life!
Everyone handles the juggling differently. My husband and I have been fortunate to use the tag-team approach. When he was working 60-hour weeks, I was home with the kids (they were babies) and doing very little freelancing. When I went to work outside the home full time, my husband became an at-home dad while he took night classes to pursue his career change. When he finally got his dream job, I was home again, but this time starting a full fledged home business. Not everyone has this flexibility; this is simply the way it’s worked out for us.
There is not a single day that I find the “balance” easy. I usually need to work at least 40-50 hours a week to keep up, and the kids are in school only about 32 hours a week, leaving me with a constant shortfall of hours in which to do my work. That means early mornings, evenings and weekends are often work time.
I’m constantly jealous of my husband who gets to have a complete separation between his work and home life. Yet because I’m willing and able to put up with the home-business challenges, my kids have the advantage of me being here all the time, a blessing I am SO thankful for.
Here’s the thing. I strive to live according to my values, which are: God first, family second, everything else third. I’m not always successful. But I do understand the truth of that age-old cliché, “Nobody ever looks back on their life and regrets not spending more time at the office.” I realize I have only 7 to 9 more years of my kids being here at home with me, and I want to make the most of this time.
Balance? Many people say there isn’t any. But I believe we can look at it in terms of spending appropriate amounts of time and energy on each of the areas of our lives: our spiritual path, our spouse, our family, our work, our church or community involvement, our friendships. The most important thing is to recognize when things get out of balance, and take steps to correct it as much as possible.
I wish I could offer something in the way of concrete answers. I can’t. Each person has to figure out what balance means to them, and then strive for it every day.
How do YOU manage the work-life balance?