Work v Life - Getting that Balance

How is your work-life balance?

Achieving a work-life balance is a daily challenge we all face.  A Mental Health Foundation study found that 42% of women compared to 29% of men reported unhappiness with a work-life balance.  A consequence of life roles and the pressure to conform to the perfect mother stereotype.  

Striving for a quality work-life balance only became an issue for me personally when I became a Mum.  Back in the early noughties, I was an ambitious twenty-something running around fuelled on strong coffee and willing to work a minute’s silence if it furthered my career.  Shoot forward to 2019 and achieving a quality work-life balance is right up my list of priorities sitting alongside ‘eating’ and ‘sleeping’!

I’m not one of these mother earth characters believing that it is my duty to spend every waking minute with my children – yes, spending time with my kids is extremely important for bonding and nurturing but spending time away from each other (they agree) is vital.  I believe in exposing them to social situations to give them the opportunity to develop friendships, grow in confidence and become the little people they are supposed to be.  Not everyone in the workplace has a small family to think of, however, that does not make them any less entitled to a work-life balance.    Just like my small children, all employees deserve to be exposed to social situations to allow them to achieve, develop and grow which will more than likely result in a workplace productivity increase. Win Win!


Love your Life…

There is no denying that working is good for mental health. Occupation is part of our identity, work provides the opportunity for achievement. The routine and cultures within the workplace help structure our day and our lives.  For my own mental health, I need to work.  I enjoy feeling part of something bigger, I love getting stuck into a task list and get a ridiculous amount of satisfaction knowing the job’s a good’un.  Not to mention the financial side of things.  We enjoy the good things in life and like to travel as often as we can.  Kid 1 loves gadgets and gaming; kid 2 loves ice cream and kid 3 is just a toddler requiring lots of everything all of the time.  Life is expensive!
This week has been quite tough with 2 of my little people down with the September cold.  The back to school bugs seem to be resistant to everything you throw at them.  Buggers!  

Fortunately, the business has been slow and steady this week which has afforded me the time to spend nursing and caring for the children when they need it the most.  This is a benefit I am reaping of being a mumpreneur!  When I was an employee of one of Northern Ireland’s top 100 companies, I got super stressed having to ask for time off to care for a sick child.  It wasn’t because my line manager was difficult about it (he was wonderful and very understanding) but it was because I felt guilty!  Guilt for letting my employer down and guilt for feeling like I should be in work instead of nursing!  

Any company genuinely committed to providing a work-life balance is worth its weight in gold.  For anyone actually achieving a successful work-life balance without the guilt, I salute you – the struggle is real!


Top Tips for Work-Life Balance…

  • Work Smart, Not long – prioritise and be ruthless about it.  Only attend those meetings which you feel are relevant.

  • Take proper breaks – eating lunch at your desk while working on a spreadsheet is not good.  If you can indulge in some fresh air and head space, absolutely take it!

  • Be honest – be open with your manager about expectations and demands.  If you are struggling ask for help.

  •  Look up company policies – there is a good chance your employer already has a policy for work-life balance.  You may be able to arrange a meeting to discuss flexible work schedules; work from home and parental leave.

  •  Do the things you love as often as you can.  Having social activities to look forward to will help you resist the urge to work out of hours when you are supposed to be living.

This article was written pre-Covid. Ahh…the good old days!

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