I’d like to share the events of one particularly tough fortnight. During that fortnight, I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy whose smile lit up the world.
His light joined the glow of my two other preschool-aged boys, who I tried to give as much attention to during that time as well.
In that fortnight, I also packed up a rental property that we had been living in while our home was repaired from a storm 11 months prior, moved back into our home, unpacked the boxes, let builders through the door while breastfeeding, and stayed on top of all my work emails. All this while also healing from my fresh caesarean.
It was a big fortnight, bigger than most, but it’s a great example of the roller coaster that many women and men alight on a daily basis.
All my fortnights, though not as stressful as that one, are completely jam-packed. As a result, my home is not a place of perfection and balance. It’s a place of great love, great challenges, great laughter, and often great mess.
But balance, nope!
I’ve heard that Work Life Balance is always attainable for anyone, no matter what their life circumstance. Here’s how I deal with that myth.
1. I acknowledge it’s a myth
Work Life Balance is not always achievable for everyone, and when we’re told that it is, it can lead to a sense of inadequacy, stress and misery.
I don’t deny its existence, and I don’t deny that many people achieve it, indeed, I’ve achieved it at various times of my life. But I don’t believe it’s attainable for everyone at all times, and I don’t believe pushing such a message is healthy or responsible.
2. I rename it Work Life Management
At this particular moment, I can’t give equal time to everything and everyone. There are days when my children get more attention than others. There are days when my business runs more smoothly than the day before. But everything gets done. Kids are adored. Partner is loved. Cat is doted on. Deadlines are met. Clients are happy. Home is lived in.
Everything ticks along because of gut instinct, management and compromise, not balance. Balance indicates some sort of happy middle, when in fact, most days there is just a tolerated angle!
3. I view my life as a beautiful book with imperfect chapters
When I was younger, I engineered my workload and my personal life around my daily hot yoga classes, which I absolutely loved. It was a sweaty, superb time.
But that was a different chapter of my life.
Nowadays I require flexibility, but of a different kind. Although I may do the occasional home yoga practice, I need to be bendy in a ‘juggling life’ kind of way.
By viewing my life as a book with imperfect chapters, I acknowledge that nothing is permanent, no story has ended, plots can thicken, stories can twist. This allows me to be grateful and mindful for the existing moments.
Yoga classes will come again, and when they do, I’ll probably enjoy them in an even fuller, more sensory way. That’s the beauty of my book. I learn and grow with each imperfect chapter.
4. I don’t compare
There have been times in my life where I’ve looked at others and wondered how they’ve been able to find the balance I haven’t.
But here’s what I realised long ago.
What I see (particularly on social media) is just one snapshot of someone’s life. It may be the truth for that moment, but not an accurate representation of their entire existence.
Added to this, no two situations are the same, just as no two people are the same; so comparing is a pointless, demoralising and soul-destroying pursuit.
I try to focus on my own life, with all its beauty and blemishes.
5. I set realistic goals that don’t demolish my spirit
I always try to set realistic goals that are attainable, because the wins from their completion give me confidence and joy.
When we first moved back into our rebuilt home, I set a goal of unpacking one box a day.
And each week, I aimed to sort through just one box of our ruined storm-damaged things. I even reduced this goal when work increased and my baby grew.
Given my life at the time, those were big goals, but completely attainable. And indeed, attaining them buoyed my spirits.
Myth busters not balancers
It’s a myth that Work Life Balance is always attainable for everyone. But there are ways to work around that myth that have nothing to do with balance, and everything to do with gut instinct, management, compromise, mood, perspective and realistic goal setting. So if you’re someone who loses your balance – smile – you’re just part of the wonderful, wobbly club!