Work/Life Balance: Juggling Children and a Full-Time Job
Balance looks different to everyone. The key is to find what works for you and helps bring peace to your life. Stop reaching for perfection and let go of the guilt. Give yourself that grace.
Author: Allie Butler
It’s 6:50 am and you still need to find clean socks for your son, Noah, and pack his lunch. The twins are chasing the cat. Your hair is wet and you just remembered you didn’t fill up the gas tank last night on the way home from work.
You quickly tie up your hair, pull some unmatched socks from the pile of laundry and shove some leftover pizza in lunchboxes with some carrot sticks, an apple, and a granola bar. You grab nothing for yourself but coffee and whisk everyone into the car. You get the kids to school on time, barely. You stop for gas and then make your way to work, arriving 10 minutes late.
While working through part of your lunch to ensure you get out on time to make it to baseball practice, you get a phone call from Noah saying he forgot his cleats at home. You use the remainder of lunch to try to coordinate a way to get his cleats there before practice starts. Right before you head out at the end of the work day, your boss touches base to see the progress you’ve made with the training plan you have been working on for your team. He has to report to his director on this in the morning, but you haven’t completed it because you didn’t know the deadline was tomorrow.
You promise to have it in his inbox for the morning conference call. On your way to practice, you stop by Chipotle to grab the kids a burrito. You get yourself one too because all you’ve eaten today is some coffee and a spattering of chocolate. You show up to practice 10 minutes late with frizzy hair and a smear of guacamole on your shirt.
You work a little bit on your training plan while you wait for practice to end. You give a quick wave to a few of the parents as you all walk to the car. You don’t know any of their names because you haven’t had the chance to really interact. You are usually nose down in your phone working on something for work. When you get home, you help with homework, you throw more laundry in, and clean up the kitchen. You fold half the pile of laundry that you pulled socks from this morning before putting the kids to bed and finishing up your training plan to send over to your boss. You roll into bed at 11:45 pm without washing your face or brushing your teeth. You simply can’t do one more thing. You set your alarm for 5 am, scroll through social media for 30 minutes and finally pass out.
Does this sound familiar to anyone? I imagine you thought you worked hard prior to having children. But after, there’s really no comparison. Balancing your work life with children in the picture is hard. You go from one primary focus with your career to being pulled in many different directions between a career and a family. Many people comment “I don’t know how you do it.”
And sometimes you agree with them, because you really don’t know how you do it. And. The. Guilt. Does it ever go away? It’s not just guilt over working and not spending enough time with your kids. There is guilt about not being able to enroll your kid in that next activity, because how will you get them there? Or guilt over not cooking healthier. There is guilt about not performing well or giving your role at work the attention it deserves because now you are distracted. Guilt over the friendships lost or malnourished because you just don’t have time.
So what’s the answer?
What you are doing is important, what you are doing is needed, and if it isn’t perfect, that’s ok. If you aren’t perfect, that’s ok. Sometimes we get lost in this world of achievement and perfection and lose sight of the big things we are doing because we are too focused on the little things.
To help you restore some balance while you give yourself grace, think about some of these changes that may contribute to renewed energy and harmony.
1) Hire a mother’s helper: Many high school students looking to make a little extra cash are willing to come match those socks for you, or food prep, pack lunches, help with homework, etc. Just a few hours a week can make a huge impact!
2) Hire a cleaning service: Is there room in your budget for a once a month crew to help you with upkeep?
3) Wake up 15 minutes earlier: Set aside time to do meditation, self-development, or cook that breakfast you’ve been skipping.
4) Go to bed 20 minutes earlier: Kick out the electronics and focus on improving your sleep habits.
5) Openly communicate with your supervisor: Setting boundaries and expectations in reverse is important. Most employers will value those who work hard and contribute to the mission. But perhaps your work timeline looks different now that you have children. Don’t let your supervisor question your commitment because you aren’t physically present after a certain point in the day.
6) Involve your kids: Assign chores…really…it won’t kill them
7) Put your phone down: Start that in person social network. These are the people who can help you in a crunch. Carpool anyone?
8) Order grocery delivery: Deliver services or curbside pick-up can help reduce this time burden.
9) Practice Self Care: Seriously! Do This!
10) Dedicate 20 minutes each day to your kids for care: In the car, over dinner, before bedtime. No phones. No television. Use this time each day to check in and really connect.
Balance looks different to everyone. The key is to find what works for you and helps bring peace to your life. Stop reaching for perfection and let go of the guilt. Give yourself that grace. It’s only a season and that season goes by in the blink of an eye!