Here it is, the no.1 requested career blog topic from my working mum friends and also inspired by the quote below by Annabel Crabb that rings true for many of us:
“The obligation for working mothers is a precise one: the feeling that one ought to work as if one didn’t have children, while raising one’s children as if one didn’t have a job.”
For me ‘balance’ is incredibly important. I’ve been trying to ‘have it all’ with my career and kids – but I do wonder if I’m striving for something unachievable? Current thinking around ‘work-life-balance’ is that the problem lies with the word ‘balance.’ It’s never going to be possible to achieve ‘balance,’ there’s always one tipping the scales at any one given point. Some prefer to call it ‘work life satisfaction, or ‘work life blend’ because of this impossibility with ‘balance.’ However you wish to call it, being a working parent is really hard! I’ve benefitted from some excellent advice on this throughout my career, and now often coach others through this so here’s my six of the best ‘balance’ tips I’ve picked up along the way…
- Be comfortable with your choices. We make our career choices based on a blend of so many influencing factors…financial, social, emotional, values, whatever they may be. Reflect on WHY you’ve made your choices, and be comfortable with them. Guilt will always crop up at times, but this genuinely helps to put everything into perspective. If you’re not happy with your choices then look at what you CAN change, remember even small changes can have a really big impact on your life.
- Don’t judge or resent others for their choices. We’re all guilty of this. Whether it’s envy of the full time mum who seemingly has an ‘amazing career’ and parents on hand for childcare on tap; or the stay at home mum who has time to be involved more in school without the stress of fitting work in. Or the ‘supermum’ with the perfect flexible part time hours job, and perfectly sculpted craft projects that are proudly brought into school by her super perfect high achieving kids. No one knows what real internal struggles they all face.
- Let go of being perfect. It’s time to lower your expectations of yourself and be kinder to you. You ARE doing the best you can for you and your kids and you are only human. Certain things will have to slip down the priority list and that is totally ok. You are enough!
- Know your own value. Know your strengths, know what you are worth and practise articulating it well out loud! I’m a huge advocate of this; it makes ‘saying no’ so much easier when faced with over demanding work, boss, kids etc. Plus, it makes you a stronger negotiator when it comes to salary/day rate and promotion discussions.
- Know your own stress signs. With all the focus on raising mental health awareness it’ time to get more savvy on our own signs of unhealthy stress. What are the patterns? What are the triggers? What time have you set aside for you? It’s so essential. A bit of pressure and adrenalin can be productive but know your own ‘early warning signs’ for when it’s really getting too much. Be brave enough to ask for support.
- Treat yourself. It can be as small as a chocolate bar just for you, or a long indulgent bath when you’ve delivered a great presentation, or met your sales targets for the month. Be proud of every small achievement and acknowledge them with a treat. You deserve it.
Finding your blend of authenticity, balance and challenge is what Life’s Work Consulting philosophy is all about. If you need support with your career then why not treat yourself to a free half hour chat with me about your needs. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org