“Work life balance” is a bit of a buzz word and has also become a bit of a unicorn. Many moms don’t want to even discuss it anymore because it feels so elusive and impossible to achieve. But here is the real secret to attaining true and lasting work life balance.
The Work Life Balance Trifecta
As working mothers we are always looking for ways to get our work life balance sorted. Many mothers try to reduce their work hours so they have more time at home. They try to balance the time they have at work with the time they have at home. Others have understood that the “balance” is more of an “integration” and tried to find ways to “integrate” work and family time.
All conversations about work life “balance” / “integration” / “flow” seem to revolve around time. The aim is always to have more time, isn’t it? Have more time to spend with our families. Have more time to focus on self-care. Have more time to be present and available.
The real secret to attaining true and lasting work life balance has very little to do with actually having more time.
There are many stay at home mothers that struggle with the very same issues working moms do. They don’t call it work life balance, of course. But they, too, struggle with being impatient, distracted and not being available to their kids. They, too, struggle with not prioritising self-care. They too experience mom-guilt and feeling not good enough.
So having time doesn’t seem to fix the problem.
The Three Pillars
Pillar # 1: Your Relationship with Time
Pillar # 2: Your Relationship with Your Family
Pillar # 3: Your Relationship with Yourself
These three pillars make up the Work Life Balance Trifecta – the secret to attaining true and lasting work life balance.
And when these three pillars are standing strong, then a true sense of balance is finally attained and sustained.
Let’s dive deeper.
Your Relationship with Time
Time does factor into the Work Life Balance Trifecta, but not in the sense of needing more of it. Understanding that you have a relationship with time in the same way as you have a relationship with money is key.
And your perception of time is what creates the foundation of that relationship.
Many of us believe that time is linear, short lived, precious, limited, not enough. Our time mantras (if you will) are “Ain’t nobody got time for that” and “Time is money” and “Not enough hours in a day”. It stands to reason that the relationship we have with time will then be pressured, tense and have a tight grip.
We don’t feel in control of our own time and we believe that we simply don’t have enough of it.
What Is Your Time Reality?
What you believe is your reality. If you believe you don’t have time then believe me you won’t have enough time. When you believe that time is cyclical, intentional and fully in your control then suddenly things shift.
Stop for a second and realise that everything you do throughout the day is entirely your choice. There may be consequences worth avoiding if you choose not to do certain things. But the choice is always yours.
You go to work because you value making money to feed your family. You go to the gym because you have prioritised having a healthy body. You wake up in the morning because you prioritise being a mother that is there for her children upon waking.
Everything that you do throughout the day is done because you prioritised it.
When we view things this way we suddenly realise that the coffee we declined with our friends yesterday was not because “I don’t have time” but more because “I’m not prioritising this today”.
It can feel like a big wake up call to look at things this way. It puts you firmly in the driver’s seat of your life again and holds you accountable for what you choose to do and not do.
But it is also liberating. And it is the secret to attaining true and lasting work life balance.
Your Relationship With Your Family
We often feel that we do not have work life balance because we are not available and present with our kids and partner. We are too busy with work. Too distracted. We believe that having more time solves this problem, but as we have seen – even those with time struggle with mom-guilt, being present and being patient.
The key to work-life balance is experiencing close, present connection with our kids and partner.
When we feel good about our relationships in our family, then we feel good about taking time away from them.
How Do We Cultivate Close Present Connections?
One of the simplest forms of being more available and present is using mindfulness strategies and intentional living in our roles as mothers. It only requires 10-15 minutes of your time at any given moment (you see, you don’t need more time).
It’s all about finding those small moments where you can commit to being present in the moment. When you are hanging out with the kids, put the phone away, let go of the mental distractions and become intentional with the 10 – 15 minutes you have.
Notice everything you can about your kids, their smiles, facial expressions and the way they talk. Spend time really savouring the moment. Throw in an additional cuddle if you care to.
I guarantee that you will all leave those moments feeling loved and connected. And you will experience more work-life balance.
Your Relationship With Yourself
The real secret to attaining true and lasting work life balance has got to factor your own maternal mindset. A.K.A. Mom Guilt and the way in which you treat yourself.
A working mother cannot thrive if she does not feel good about herself.
And when we are overwhelmed, depleted and distracted then we are not feeling good about ourselves. Self-care is an essential factor in reducing overwhelm and distraction, but so sorely overlooked.
Yet the way in which you prioritise yourself, view yourself as a mother and feel about how you are showing up will be fundamental to attaining a sense of work life balance.
Self-Care, Mom-Guilt and Super Powers
The first aspect is to look at the real value of self-care for working mothers and I have an entire article dedicated to this here.
The second is to address the ever-looming, self-criticising, destructive mom guilt that all working and stay at home mothers experience. It is often based in old, outdated beliefs created in a patriarchal society. And need serious slashing.
No. You are not a bad mom for being an emotional ‘mess’ today.
No. You have not failed your kids by forgetting to be the tooth fairy
No. You are not selfish for choosing to browse K-Mart alone
No. You are not a bad mom for being impatient.
No. No. No.
What you do have, however, are your own unique maternal super powers just by virtue of who you are as a person.
You may not be the most soft-spoken nurturing mother (I know I am not). But you may well be that passionate, energetic mom that radiates fun. Your unique personality brings characteristics and gifts to the maternal table that your family all benefit and thrive from. What are they?
I bet you haven’t taken time to truly acknowledge your amazing gifts as a mother. We spend far too much time berating ourselves for our failures.
But true and lasting work life balance comes from rocking your super powers and kicking mom guilt to the curb.
How It All Ties Together
When we feel more in control of our time we feel calmer and focussed. We learn to prioritise self-care and needle moving activities while getting rid of time wasters on our schedules. Calm, focussed moms that feel in control of their time are not distracted or overwhelmed. They have more energy to show up in their work and in their families.
When you have created deep, fulfilling connections with your kids and partner then you feel good about yourself as a mother. Being present and available when it counts allows you to be absent when you need to.
You feel good about being here and about being away – how is that not balance?
When you rid yourself of the messages that make you believe you are not good enough you step into your own super power as a mother. Mothers who embrace who they are and what they provide generally feel great about how they show up. That creates energy and joy in the task of mothering.
You can thrive in work and you can thrive in motherhood.
This is the secret to attaining true and lasting work life balance.